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TODD’S TECH TUESDAY: Get the 411 on the QR

December 4, 2012

Cell phones are everywhere these days and they can be an unwelcome annoyance in the classroom.  Rather than discourage phone usage, take advantage of these tools by integrating QR codes into lessons.

QR codes (or 2-dimensional/2-D codes) are a matrix style bar code consisting of both horizontal and vertical line segments.  The codes produced in this style are most often a graphical representation of text data, such as the characters making up an Internet address (URL), and they do not require special barcode-specific scanners to translate the code into usable information.  All that is required is a smartphone (even some newer camera cell phones with mobile internet capabilities will work too) and one of any number of free tools to create and read QR codes, such as those offered by Kaywa.

Now for the ideas of how to use this technology.  Think of the QR code as an easy way to direct someone to a specific website.  It is much easier to get someone to a website by taking a picture of a QR code than by typing each of the characters, like “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOgyC8liCfg”.

Knowing this, you might choose to generate QR codes and embed these images in the materials you are already handing out.  The QR codes could be used to direct students to additional information and resources to study a topic.  Or, have students find their own websites and generate the QR codes to share with classmates.  Since the codes are not human readable, you could use this aspect to your advantage to provide several different codes linking to various websites and have students try to determine the common theme or topic.  Yet another idea would be to create codes for several Wikipedia entries or words at Dictionary.com, have students scan several of the entries and write a short story that includes each of the scanned items.

Even more ideas can be found on the blog, Technology Enhanced Learning.

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