Monday, April 13, 2015

QR Codes: What are they and how to use them to engage students

QR codes are similar to bar codes.  QR stands for quick response.  You have probably seen them in stores, the mall and many public spaces.  QR codes use your phone or tablet's camera, in conjunction with a QR code scanner app, to take you to a website, specific app or a number of functions.  For example, walking through the grocery store, you may see a QR code on a Pepsi display.  If you scan the code with your phone, you will be taken to a promotional website created by Pepsi.  Another example can be found on Taco Bell drink cups and receipts.  Scanning the codes there can take you to surveys or other promotions.

Sample: Scan this code which will link you to the CASSP website.

Free apps:

How does this apply to classroom?  On the surface, this may appear useless in a classroom, but it can be a very engaging activity for students.  QR codes can be used to lead students on a digital scavenger hunt.  You can generate QR codes for websites you would like students to explore, analyze and or take notes from.  The codes can link them to articles, images, videos, etc.  You can paste the codes around your classroom or even the school.  Students will be engaged by the fact they have to get out of their seat and use technology.

This can be a great opportunity to practice structuring group roles.  If you put students in teams of three, you can have one who scans, one who records and one who investigates the link.  These roles could rotate at each station.  QR codes can also be used as a gallery walk.  Instead of posting single images around your classroom, post QR codes linked to individual images or even whole galleries of images for students to analyze.

I know some of you are wondering about logistics.  What if students don't have phones?  What if they don't know anything about QR Codes?  At our school, we have an iPad lab.  We can easily install a free QR Code scanner app on the iPads.  If students don't know anything about QR Codes, demonstrate it first.

The suggestions and ideas I have discussed are all things I have done in the past.  They are easier said than done, but with sufficient planning, collaboration (contact me for ideas and help) and practice, QR Codes can be a very valuable tool for student engagement.

1 comment:

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