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Barcodes Are So Blasé
posted by: Jill | June 22, 2011, 03:17 PM   

Ever re-arrange a lesson, or lessons, because it turns out that the computer lab is booked solid? Ever have your excitement for a student-driven internet search quelled because, once again, the computer lab isn't available? How about wishing that you could offer students additional material to assist them when struggling or to challenge them when their sailing through the curriculum? Or what about students who don't turn in their worksheet because they "lost" it? I'm sure you've said yes to at least one of these questions. The solution to these difficulties, in many cases, could be that little box at right—the QR Code.

codeQR (Quick Response) Codes are not new; they were invented in the 1990s. However, regarding what they can do for education—wowza—this is new and exciting stuff. That little box is meant to be photographed by a smart phone using a QR reader app, and then the code directs the viewer to a specified URL (website, video, photo, document) or perform activities like sending an email, a V-card, or texting someone.

Personally, I've seen the codes popping up more and more frequently, but I was turned on to QR codes in education when reading this past weekend. "QR: It's Code for Student Engagement" by Karen Fasimpaur from the current edition of Learning and Leading, a publication of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). A tool with such potential in education, Fasimpaur states that, QR codes "might be a "killer app" for getting cell phones more readily accepted in education." I'm going to be frank—I hope that is true. But I won't go into that tangent right now.

QR Codes, 2-dimensional matrix codes, can hold more information than their cousin the linear bar code. They can be scanned with more common place items such as cameras, phones, or computers. Also, QR codes are easily created and can be photocopied. In fact, even if you don't have a smart phone, you can still use the technology in your classroom right now to create QR codes. Fasimpaur suggests the following uses for QR Codes in the classroom:

  • Use codes to provide easy access to different types of content at learning stations
  • Differentiate instruction by providing codes linking various types of remediation or enrichment (or multiple styles of resources, such as video, text, and audio) for homework
  • Provide multimedia content via print using codes to link to videos or interactive content on a textbook page or a handout.
  • Have students complete an activity such as a series of stations, a treasure hunt, or a geocache. When they finish they scan a QR code, which then allows them to send a tweet or a text message to the teacher.
  • Attaches codes to bookshelves in the library or classroom with links to video reviews, [synopses,] or more information.
  • Post a code at the door with an embedded text file containing homework assignments, spelling or vocabulary lists, or writing prompts. Students can scan it on the way out the door so they are less likely to lose track of the information.
If you have a smart phone next to you, download one of the following apps and start looking for QR codes in your community.

Android: Quick Mark Blackberry: ScanLife iPhone: RedLaser ( I use QR Reader)

To create QR codes, I use or While devouring information, I found this informational article about CR Codes to be quite helpful even though it was written for businesses.

On a fun note, as a lucky coincidence today marks the release of a new coin from the Dutch. This coin has a QR Code on the tail side. Interested persons can scan it and learn more about the currency of The Netherlands.

I agree with Fasimpaur, "Instead of banning student cell phones in school, let's use them to enrich their learning." I mean, there must be something to it if a country is using them to share information on a national currency.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Charity, Utah, June 22, 2011

I'm inspired. This blog post has my mind spinning with all kinds of classroom application! I would have never thought to use QR codes in my classroom. I love the idea of using QR codes to give clues, assignments and messages. My students always learn the best when they figure out a concept on their own!

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