QR codes… Disposable fad? Or useful technology? Opinions on whether QR codes are of real value is a hotly debated topic. But regardless of polarized views on the technology, there are some teachers using QR codes in education in some very inventive and exciting ways.
QR codes have been in use since 1994 when they were created to track vehicles during manufacturing. Growing in popularity in recent years with the explosion of camera equipped smart-phones, the codes are now being used to link real world objects (from drones to telescopes) with all sorts of online data and information. So, what value can this bring? And what are some ways you can use QR codes in education?
First… Get a Scanner
How You Can Use QR Codes In Education
One of the best ideas I have heard for using QR codes is in the school library. QR codes are created for specific books, linking to reviews, trailers or additional resources. The QR codes are then printed on to stickers and stuck inside the cover of the book. This is great as students can scan and learn more about the book before they choose to read it. Taking this concept a step further, try getting students to create their own book reviews or trailers. The content can then posted to the class blog or wiki and linked to the physical book via QR code. This is a great way for students to interact on both ends of the technology and have their work reach a broad and diverse audience.
QR Code Orienteering
Now this one does require a reasonable amount of planning and work, but it is sure to pay off, in both student engagement and fun. Create an orienteering course where each checkpoint is a QR code. As students check-in (scan the code) the virtual treasure map will unfold, with each code being a clue to find the next. This is a really good way to combine technology with a bit of physical exercise and problem solving skills. There are tools available for creating a QR treasure hunt, but it is quite simple to put together yourself. Take a look at this great example from iLearn Technology for inspiration.
A popular use for QR codes in education is to add multimedia content to hard copy pages. It is kind of like a stepping stone on our way to fully digitized textbooks and worksheets. The below example is one of my favorites where the elements of the periodic table have been replaced with QR codes. Each code links to a YouTube video discussing the element in question. If you would like to print a full size copy of the poster, visit the original link on Flickr, courtesy of Periodic Videos.
QR Codes On School Equipment
QR codes let us link physical objects in the real world with digital assets online. This is very useful as we can now attach all sorts of additional information to equipment to assist in use. Some examples of this are linking loan equipment to forms and rules for lending. Linking complex or dangerous equipment to instructions or safety warnings. These are just a few ways schools can use QR codes to save time, money and administrative effort.
Solutions And Tutorials
A practical and fun application for QR codes is a modern version of answers being written in the back of the book. By placing answers to questions online and linking with QR codes, students can attempt their own solutions before using the code to review the correct answer. Not only is this a novel way for students to look up answers, it once again lets teachers use interactive media to present solutions in a more thorough and engaging manner. Take a look at some of the great things jazrob86 is doing with his class and QR codes.
If you are interested in having a go with QR codes in your class, there are a number of sites you can use to generate them. A simple and easy to use generator we use is http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.
So, do you think QR codes in education are something that can add value? Or do you still think they are just a bit of a gimmick?
Image courtesy of Flickr, preetamrai.
Got sent a great resource from @tmeeky. A collection of free QR code enabled worksheets:
Well worth a look
QR codes are here to stay. They are far too flexible and versatile.
I would have to agree based off the feedback we’ve received. I expect their use will evolve over time and perhaps be superseded by NFC or similar technology. But agreed, the versatility and applications can only grow.
MS Codes are going stomp all over QR codes. You can brand them and they are a lot more versatile. QR codes were a flash in the pan in my opinion.
I like that periodic table of videos
I think they are a great step and can definitely see a benefit to learners. As the technology behind them improves, they can only get better.
I also love the Periodic Table example
Just watched jazrob86’s video, and am wondering about learners who do not have access to the technology?
Thanks for the comments Karen!
Yes, this type of technology is quite limiting for students without access to, let’s face it, expensive technology. It really brings up the debate of how can we ensure students are on a level playing field and who is responsible for ensuring students can get access to technology? One of our recent articles discusses this a bit further:
The periodic table is one of my favs too. We have had plenty of great responses from excited Chemistry teachers :)
I came across your article as i was doing some research while getting ready to meet with the leaders of the school system in Virgina, USA. I am the founder of getmimbu.com we offer a user friendly mobile web app (mobile optimized website) builder and QR code generation application that allows the user to easily create Msites (mobile sites) and generate a QR code for each of these sites. The school system here in america is investing billions of dollars in new technology, in south Florida where i live the school system just received a huge amount of money to invest in this kind of technology. which is what we do at getmimbu.com. Karen is right, unless schools are willing to spend the money in this kind of technology few kids will be able to have access to it.
Our reading teachers have student design a posted flyer explaining the thesis to a persuasive paper and asking dissenters to scan the qr and respond.
Thanks for this, an excellent list that mirrors my own experience and ideas for QR Codes and how they can be used in and around classrooms. I have just recently released this ebook on QR Codes in Education, which your readership may find interesting:
All the best, David
Thanks for the comments and link David!