Education · teaching

QR Codes and Education

You may be thinking, “what is a qr code and how does it have anything to do with education?” like I did at first. That is, until I watched the following video, take a look!

To summarize, QR code stands for quick response code, a 2 dimensional bar code that can direct you to a variety of text based resources. They’re free to make, easy to use, and the possibilities are endless for what you can do with them.

There are two different types of QR codes, Dynamic and Static. Static QR codes incorporate the destination website URL into the actual QR code and can’t be modified. That QR code will always direct people to the same location. Dynamic QR codes use a short URL incorporated into the QR code which then transparently directs you to the intended destination. What is great about dynamic QR codes is that after the creation of the QR code, you can change the URL so that the QR code image stays the same, but it will redirect people somewhere else.

The easiest way to make QR codes is to watch this video and use the website the creator uses as a QR code generator.

Making a QR code is as easy as picking the type of location you want the QR code to send people to (twitter, facebook, website, youtube video etc), copy and pasting the link you would like the image to direct you to into the second section, and clicking download QR code. You now have a QR code that you can use in the classroom. But how?

The possibilities for using QR codes in the classroom are endless. In the first video, Karen Mensing emphasized that you can do the same lesson, one using a QR code and one not, and get completely different results from students. This is because QR codes give students an element of choice and interaction in activities that could be relatively boring otherwise. For example, you could give your students a worksheet to complete during class and on the top, include a QR code that directs to a video that they can scan with their phone and watch if they need help with the activity. This could reduce the amount of time the teacher will spend answering student questions, and instead put the responsibility of figuring out the solution into a resource that is easy to access for students. Giving students more choice and interaction can lead to more motivated students because they feel like they have more agency and autonomy.

QR codes can also be used to build the feeling of affiliation that is important in motivating learners. One idea I found while looking at resources was to have a poster up in the classroom with different QR codes on it that lead to a particular motivational comment. If a student needs feedback on an assignment, the teacher could discuss it with them and then suggest “go scan #3 on the poster” and it could give them a specific positive comment. Or you could use it as a way for students to assess their own work, by having the QR codes relate to different levels of response, and the student has to pick which one their work most relates to. As we have been discussing in our Assessment class, sometimes hearing feedback from a teacher is hard to hear, so if it becomes more of a self assessment by comparing your work to a set standard, receiving that feedback from someone other than the teacher can be helpful.

When I was at Vidcon two summers ago I attended a panel where one of the members explained that in his classroom, he makes a youtube video of him delivering the lesson and plays it in class, so he can focus on walking around and helping the students more during class time. You could have a Dynamic QR code posted in the classroom and change it daily to the youtube lesson of the day. This also leads into the concept of the flipped learning model, but that is for another blog entry.

I would like to briefly note that there are limitations for QR codes directly related to the amount of technology available in each individual school. They would not be as useful in schools where there is no access to iPads in class, where students are too young for cell phones, or where not everyone in higher grade classroom has a personal cell phone or device. I am optimistic that as time passes and people realize the value in incorporating hands on tech related experiences in the classroom, that the technology needed to access things like QR codes will become more common in classrooms.

I could go on for days about different ways that QR codes can be incorporated into the classroom, but I hope the three examples I included gives you a jumping off point to discover and create your own ways to use QR codes in the classroom. Below I will list other websites I found that had great ideas on how to use QR codes in the classroom.

QR code generators:

Links of ways to incorporate QR codes in the classroom:


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