22 February 2012

Day Fifteen: QR Codes

You are starting to see them everywhere:  those odd-looking black and white squares included in everything from advertisements in magazines to posters in store windows to bananas (yes, you read that correctly).  That odd combination of pixels is actually information that can be displayed using your smartphone's browser.  The code can contain a website, your contact information, a picture, link to a YouTube video and so much more. Before we get into how QR Codes can be used in the classroom, let's take a look where QR codes come from.


Now that we understand where they came from, let's learn how to create our own.  There are a couple of options available depending on your level of technology.  The QR code scanner in the app store for the iPhone comes with an option to create your own code right on the phone (I believe there is also one for Android, but neither are really reliable).  If you are a Chrome user (and if you aren't we need to have a talk about that), there is an app in the Chrome Web Store called "The QR Code Generator" which will generate your code right in your browser.  However, if none of those options are to your liking, the favorite web site for creating codes is Kaywa.

So you have your generator and now you need something to create your code for.  QR Codes are a great way to direct users to view simple information like your class website or a video from YouTube that you want them to watch.  Go to that location and grab the url from the address bar (or in the case of YouTube videos, click the SHARE button and copy the url given there), and paste the url into the generator.  For example, one of my favorite videos to share with my students is the MHS Lip Dub.  After copying the url (ctrl+C), I can go to my Chrome app, paste in the url and generate my code as seen below.
The code can now be copied or saved as an image and put in any number of different places.  One word of advice:  the purpose of a QR Code is to direct a user to a location on the web when they are not currently sitting in front of a computer so putting one on your website is a bit of a waste.  I want to provide one other tip about QR Codes:  the longer the url, the more complicated the QR Code becomes which makes it look garbled.  You will want to use a url shortener to make it more manageable and therefore a nicer looking code.  Personal preference is for all things Google so try goo.gl, however bit.ly and tinyurl.com are also popular.  If you use the Chrome QR Code app, it already contains a "Shorten url" button so there is no need to copy from the external site.

After a short discussion at lunch, we came up with the following list of possible ways to use QR Codes in the classroom.
  1. QR code on the syllabus given on the 1st day of class to direct students to the class website.  Can also be put on the sign on the door to the classroom.
  2. QR Code scavenger hunt.  A great to connect your subject to different areas of the school is a scavenger hunt.  But, instead of simply finding a clue, the students find a QR code with it that directs them to a website to help them answer a specific question.
  3. QR Codes in books in the media center.  The code could contain a link to the author's website, an Amazon book review, or a preview of the movie based on the book.
  4. Links to YouTube videos.  This could be like the lip dub above or to podcasts that were created using JING about classroom content to be watched outside of class.  It could even go to a TED talk if you can't find what you are looking for on YouTube (is that even possible?).
So you have your QR code, now what?  Well you want to scan it with your smartphone to see if it works (always make sure it works before posting it!!).  Each company has their own free app that can be downloaded from their particular web store.  I am a Blackberry user (hey they used to be good), so QR Code Scanner Pro is the best app.  As for Android and iPhone you will need to consult someone lucky enough to have that device (just ask your students.  They know the best apps to use).  Once you open the app it will access your camera to scan the code and Voila!

The above were created in a five minute brainstorming session over lunch.  How can you see QR codes being used in your classroom?

Here are some other resources for your consideration:

22 comments:

  1. This is an interesting one! I wasn't aware that you could even make your own QR code. I'm thinking this would have been great to include on my classroom guidelines in the beginning of the year. At this point I'm thinking it would be helpful to create a QR code that is linked to my classroom website and/or blog and have my students tape it directly into their notebooks or binders so they can never say, "I forgot the url."

    It is definitely something to think about incorporating in the classroom. Thanks!

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  2. I saw on the web that teachers use QR codes to provide links to additional information that supports nonfiction reading. They also use it to link to information about the author of a book in case students want to read more of the author's books. The only concern I have here is that many kids do not have the phones to read these codes. Being that they are simply addresses on the Web, I guess you could provide a Symbaloo tile or other method of attaining the link for children who do not have a smartphone.

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  3. I agree with Jill, many students do not have smart phones. Another concern, are we sending mixed messages about the use of cell phones in the classroom? This definitely could be beneficial outside of the classroom.

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  4. As we discussed earlier, I plan to QR the books in the library and lead students to book trailers; student reviews; even related sites (like the link to the U.S. Constitution). I am very excited about this one. Can't wait to get started!

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  5. Marc, is there another way to use the codes without a smartphone? I have the same concern, not all of my students have one(I don't either!). I love the concept but wish there was a way around the need for a phone. Perhaps having the students work in pairs could help...we could try and pair them by smartphone ownership?

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  6. The students in the North Media Center enjoy the opportunity to view book trailers on the back of new reads using QR codes. I just put the code on the back of the book jacket. It is a great way to entince them to check out a new book.

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    1. Yes, I agree. It is a fabulous opportunity. I also think QR codes are great for other links to add to a book, such as a related web site on the topic; or even the movie trailer for books that have been made into movies. The fun is just beginning!

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  7. Kristine,
    I had at least half of my students in every class have a smartphone. I paired them up for the scavenger hunt and it worked fine. I let the smartphone users pick their partner(s) so they were getting someone they wanted to work with. There is a way to scan it with a laptop if it has a webcam, but that doesn't work without a wifi connection.

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  8. This post was AWESOME! I've wanted to know this information for a long time but haven't had the time to look it up myself! Once I've experimented with this on my own I'm sure it will find its way into classroom use! The main problem is that they are only able to be read by a limited number of devices (smart phones and some computers). Classroom use generally requires more universal access.

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  9. I never realized exactly how I could use these QR codes (honestly I didn't even know what they were before now). I don't have a smartphone either, but a good portion of South's students have them, and definitely see some potential. Ceil& Lauren-in the library seems like a great place to use them!

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  10. They are good for advertisements. Has anyone used them in the classroom? Lauren, I like theidea of learning more about a book before you read it. I didn't know the students used them!

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  11. I didn't kniow what these things were for, I thought they were just for advertisments, that's why I never bothered to even try them, who wants more advertisments? I might try this in class, but I'm not sure.

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  12. I, too, had no idea what QR codes were; I am hoping that all of this tech information remains on the district site. There has been too much interesting information for me to digest in one month, but I am working on incorporating different technology tools into the classroom! The students' assessment for the present topic will be to make an Animoto video. I can't wait to see their productions!

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  13. I think it does send a mixed message about phone usage in the classroom. Plus I would feel horrible for the students who do not have one. It just opens up another avenue for kids to tease others.

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  14. I am not quite sure how I would incorporate this. I think it is pretty cool though. I like the idea of attaching it to a Back to School Night hand out. I would really have to think on this one. But, again, it is really cool.

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  15. Kristyn...you bring up a very good point. What about the kids with limited resources? I have a handful of students who do not have a computer at home. With many teachers starting or continuing to infuse technology into their lesson plans, the kids with no computers are at a disadvantage. Plus, there are many households with one computer and many users! As it is now, I print out anything we do for those with no computer. I can't imaging the fustration of these students who are getting hard copies for several subjects or can't complete a project/assignment/homework. It may be a small group I am referring to, but what about them? We have discussed this in school and are working toward some sort of resolution. Is it the parents' responsibility or is the school accountable?

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  16. Thank you very much. This information is really helpful.

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  17. The QR Code infographic is great. Can i use it on my QR Code Generator site at www.qrcode-generator24.com? On my site you can create Codes with tracking without any registration. Give me a G+ when you like it:)

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  19. I agree with Jill, many students do not have smart phones. Another concern, are we sending mixed messages about the use of cell phones in the classroom? This definitely could be beneficial outside of the classroom.

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