Have you seen these funny square images before? If you didn’t know, these are called QR codes. Usually they are not seen on computer screens though as they serve a similar purpose to hyperlinks, which are easier to use when already on a computer. However, these images are becoming more popular on print sources, from posters to books to advertising to labels for clothing or food. (The QR code above is a link to my Google site with my Twitter research.) Watch this video below for a more detailed explanation of what they are, if you do not already know.
So how can QR codes help in the world of education? Think of how many times you have given students a website to check out after class. Many don’t end up checking it out because they lost the paper with the website, incorrectly typed in the web address, or thought it was too long to bother typing. If you had a QR code image, they could just scan it with their phone. Then they could easily take the link with them (or bookmark it on their phone). Or, in college, many of our students arrive to class early. If you have a sign-in sheet as I do, then you could have a QR code with a link to a website, Prezi, or video that could help them review the previous lesson or prepare for the upcoming one. I have noticed many of my students just play on their phones until class starts anyway. These are just two ideas, but the possibilities are endless, especially in a face-to-face learning environment.
Personally, I foresee these will become a feature in printed textbooks to provide students with video explanations to content or additional practice. I know our society is shifting towards e-textbooks, but I think it will be another 20-30 years before we find all classes and textbooks have made that transition. In the meantime, I think QR codes printed in textbooks could provide more of a e-text feel for publishers and books who have yet to make the transition.
So how do you get started? It is quite simple actually. Read this post for 4 easy steps. After reading it, it will take you only a minute to create one. Really.