Monday, February 13, 2012

3 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

You see them everywhere you go.  They appear in magazines, on department store products, and even on your food.  QR codes are a type of two-dimensional code similar to a bar code but with far greater storage capacity.  QR codes were originally created by Toyota to help track vehicles as they were being manufactured, but have since caught on in many other industries. 

QR codes are also a great method for adding digital media to projects for students.  I wanted to throw out three easy ways to use QR codes in the classroom, but before we go too far, how do you make a QR code?  Simple.  There are a plethora of QR code generators on the web.  I personally like It is a simple generator that allows you to make codes for text and urls among other media types.  Simply input the media of your choice into the box and watch as GoQR makes your code for you. 

You will also need a means of reading the QR codes. Almost all smartphones have apps that read QRs.  iPhones, iPods, and iPads have quite a few free apps for scanning QRs. I really like QRReader. It's a simple QR scanner that will promptly open any QR encoded media for you upon scanning a code.

Using QR codes in the classroom really is easy.  With web apps like GoQR, you can churn out quite a few QRs with relatively little effort and you are ready to go.

Here are three easy ways to incorporate QRs into the classroom.

1) Have a digital scavenger hunt.  In a Social Studies lesson at the beginning of the year, I used QR codes as clues for a scavenger hunt that required students to use the information and websites they contained to research information about map skills.  The students in turn worked to collect the data and use it to complete a map skills activity.  The students used iPod touches to scan the codes required and worked in teams.  The inclusion of cool technology and the scavenger hunt mentality really mesh well to create an engaging experience.

2) You can also use QR codes to mesh print products and digital media. A great method for incorporating QR codes into an open house presentation would be for students to create a poster based on a topic of their choice and then record themselves, find a website, or provide a digital picture that could be encoded to a QR and put on their poster so that parents and other students looking at their work could be given information both in print and digitally. 

3) QR codes are a great way to provide easy access to web-based application, notes, and other media that a teacher might want to share with their students.  Instead of students not writing down urls correctly or leaving information at school that should have gone home, a teacher can simply encode the information in a QR and give it to the student or even put it on an easy-to-find teacher homepage for students to scan and use when they get home. 

These are just scratching the surface of what we can do with QR codes.  The sky is virtually the limit when it comes to using QR codes in the classroom.  If you are a teacher who uses QR codes in your classroom, post a comment and let me know how you use it.

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