The QR Code

I distinctly remember a conversation that I was having with my school librarian at the end of two school years ago, where the topic of QR Codes emerged into my knowledge for the first time.  She asked me if I had known a thing about them or how to even read one.  To be honest, I didn’t have a clue and after a little investigating about what they are, I circled back and told her not to worry these wouldn’t enter the education realm anytime soon and seemed to me to be a fluke.

Fast forward to the present….I was wrong!  After doing some more research as a part of my graduate school class this summer, I am amazed at how powerful QR Codes are.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, according to Wikipedia it stands for “quick response” where an individual can capture the code with an app on their smartphone which will lead them to the encoded data, whether it be a link, website, text, or other data wishing to be shared.  The premise is certainly exciting, having access to information easily without worrying about searching through a search engine or misspelling a URL while skimming a magazine or some other snafu.  Instead the information is readily available with the snap of a photo (now the world of QR codes, also alienates those without smartphones that cannot access QR codes).

I’m thinking that for starters, I am going to make my syllabus on day one a QR code and see how my students react to being immersed into it firsthand.  See who has smartphones and who will be able to actually figure out what to do with a QR code…quite the technological experiment.

There are other ways that QR codes will transform the way that we teach and learn.

Take for instance this video below. Look at how the reading of a book becomes much more engaged and interesting through the use and inclusion of a QR code.  The codes included within the book bring you directly to more knowledge.  I can see this becoming a significant aspect in the travel industry, but also in education.

Michael Bromby suggests some interesting approaches to including QR codes within his classroom.  I especially like the use of contact information. I can see the practicality of that much better at a university level than I can at a junior high level, but I still like the idea of storing all of the information necessary and then printing it out on a QR code and business card.  Think about the information that one could share – your entire LinkedIn profile, CV, ePortfolio, or resume!

Teachers could provide QR codes on homework assignments.  I think that makes the learning more ubiquitous because students will have the opportunity to have answers to their questions without necessarily needing to reach out to the teacher right away.  Students will be providing with more ownership of their learning to go to the websites and resources that teachers choose for additional support on their homework assignments.

Teachers already appear to be integrating these devices into their classrooms and as a part of instruction, we need to think about what we want these QR codes to do for our students.  Perhaps we want them to be links to important topics or maybe videos, or other websites that will add additional flare and support to our students’ instruction.  Most importantly, we want to have our students understand the importance of these codes and not shrug them off as something that doesn’t really matter. Perhaps as we begin we might want to focus on the usage of QR codes for additional support on homework assignments or in-class activities, which can then give way to creating assessments and other projects using QR codes.  They do matter and much like many of the other aspects of mobile devices and mobile learning, we will see that these assist in the development of educating around the clock with wherever and whenever learning.

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