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Using QR Codes to Enhance a Classroom Library
posted by: Alix | September 11, 2012, 01:28 PM   

A QR code (short for "Quick Response Code") is a form of barcode that, when scanned, can take you to virtually any online destination of the creator's choosing. QR codes have exploded in popularity in the past couple of years as more and more individuals have begun to carry with them the mobile technology needed to scan such codes. The primary business-based use of QR codes is related to advertising: companies love placing these codes on their products as a tool designed to get prospects and current customers to their websites or to other information about their products.

In the classroom, the potential uses of QR codes are not always so apparent. First of all, many schools have been hesitant to allow students to use mobile technology, particularly cell phones, as learning tools in any manner. I would argue, however, that the success of QR codes as advertising tools in the business sector has parallels that educators can draw upon in the classroom. After all, what is it that teachers are most often "selling" to students?

I believe one area that virtually all elementary classrooms and many secondary classrooms typically "advertise" is literature. Through a personal classroom library, teachers often do everything in their power to get students hooked on excellent, well-written books. These teachers often use interactive read-alouds to get students to discover new authors and genres, and they frequently organize or "level" their classroom library to help students select books at an appropriate difficulty level.

QR codes can take any classroom library to a whole new level. By creating QR codes (using a free code creator such as the one found at that link to more information about a book, a video trailer, or even a personalized recommendation video created by the teacher, a teacher at any grade level can create a classroom library that enables readers to more effectively find books that will interest them. Once this initial setup is complete, teachers can encourage their students to be a part of the code creation process, inviting them to create QR codes that link to their own book reviews and recommendations. Over time, the majority of books on a teacher's shelves could contain a QR code sending a prospective reader to more information about that book's content.

For teachers who aren't primarily promoting literature to students (such as a secondary math teacher), the same thought process can lead you to find other applications for QR codes: What is it that you are trying to "sell" to your students, and in what ways could QR codes help promote that?

About the Author:
Neven Jurkovic's interest in teaching with technology developed while pursuing a Master of Science degree at Southwest Texas State University. Apart from publishing a number of papers on the application of artificial intelligence in elementary mathematics problem solving, Neven is the creator of Algebrator, a popular math tutoring software. Currently, he lives in San Antonio, TX and is the CEO of Softmath.
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