A Primer on QR Codes

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo by The Daring Librarian: http://flickr.com/photos/info_grrl/5606363434/

It seems like lately, QR codes are everywhere.
Although I saw them frequently in Japan several years ago, it seemed like Australia would never jump on board the QR wagon…until now. QR codes are not only in vogue, there are so many ways they can be used creatively in education…so here’s a plain english version of what they are, and how you might take advantage of this (newish) technology…

What are they?

QR (Quick Response) codes are basically 2D barcodes. as they can be read vertically and horizontally, they can contain much more information that a regular barcode. They can contain up to 4000 characters (numeric, alphabetical, or Kanji (Japanese/Chinese symbols). Traditional barcodes contain only 20 digits of data.

A short piece of text, a website address, an email address or a phone number are just some of the types of information that can be stored in a code. In Japan, where QR codes originated, they are on most business cards – providing a link to a Google Map of where to find the business, or the business website in most cases, so users can simply scan the code with their phone to get direct access to information.

Most Smartphones will have a barcode scanner as a downloadable app which will read QR codes.

For the desktop you can also install a little bit of software that will use a webcam to read the codes. A free and easy to use desktop QR code reader and creator can be downloaded at http://www.quickmark.com.tw/En/basic/downloadPC.asp
This program will allow you to create QR codes and to scan QR codes on the computer screen quickly and easily.

Whether children are using mobile devices or the webcam on a netbook, they will access digital resources in fewer clicks.

Alternatively, there are many websites that generate QR codes – one of the easiest is Kaywa QR Generator: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Why should I use them?

QR codes livebinder

Loads more information on QR codes is in the livebinder accessible by scanning this QR code

• Convey large amounts of information easily

• Provide easy access to websites/YouTube videos

• Create scavenger hunts or self-guided tours

• Provide information to parents

• Provide easy access for early years students to websites – use a desktop scanner

How to use them

The opportunities are endless. The following video shows how one school in the United States is using QR codes in many creative ways. Following the video are just a few additional ideas … please feel free to share more suggestions in the comments section below this post…

• Create QR codes for websites for direct student access

• A tour of any location can be made self guiding. Students use headphones plugged into phone/itouch and scan QR codes to listen to pre-recorded podcasts describing that part of the tour.

• Bring interactivity into discussions about moral dilemmas or social issues. Create short videos depicting the consequences of various actions or different perspectives on social issues. Create a QR code for each video. Students read the description of the dilemma or social issue, then scan the corresponding QR code to explore the dilemma/issue more deeply, by viewing the video.

• Include QR codes that direct students to websites with further information on homework/assignment task sheets

Websites and Tools

40 interesting ways to use QR Codes

Desktop QR scanner: Quickmark

This Diigo group is specifically for sharing links about using QR codes in education – if you aren’t already a member of Diigo, you should be (read the post about it here) otherwise, join this group for regular digests on new ways to use this tool in the classroom.

As said earlier…if you are using QR codes, or have ideas on how they might be used creatively, share them below in the comments section…we would love to hear what others are doing!

We would like to spread the word about our blog! Simply scan the QR code below to post the link of our blog to your Twitter account…and if you don’t have a Twitter account, stay tuned for an upcoming article on why Twitter is vital for every educator!