You may have noticed oddly shaped images such as the one to the left of this text appearing in places as wide-ranging as advertising flyers to newspapers to cereal boxes to bus-stop shelters. They are also attracting a good deal of attention for usage in educational settings. This is a QR Code (QR stands for ‘Quick Response’), and essentially a QR code is a more elaborate form of traditional barcode (QR Codes are two dimensional barcodes, where as traditional barcodes are one dimensional) and just like standard barcodes they can be scanned and the information encoded within extracted. This information usually takes the form of a URL (weblink) but it can alternatively be a piece of text, email address, telephone number or other information. This particular QR Code here contains a URL to the Teachnet website.
QR Codes can be scanned using dedicated QR Code scanners, and this is most commonly done using a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android handset with a QR Code scanner app to read the code (there are several free apps for both iPhone/iPod Touch and Android available in the respective app stores, just do a search – I personally use Neoreader for my iPhone and find it very good, and have heard ZXing recommended for Android handsets). Simply fire up your QR Code scanner app, point the camera at the code, (usually) press the button to scan it (essentially the mobile device takes a picture of the QR Code and then scans it) and you will gain access to the information contained within the QR code. You can also use a webcam attached to a computer (or use the webcam on a laptop) for this purpose, using software such as QuickMark (which also reads traditional one-dimensional barcodes and will also allow you to generate your own codes, or drag and drop codes in to be scanned, etc.).
Here’s a quick video to show a QR Code scanner in operation.. http://youtu.be/LMKLwFEiwOc
Introduction to QR Codes
There are a number of websites that will enable you to generate your own QR Codes, including Kaywa, Delivr and url.ie. The process couldn’t be simpler – simply input your information and then click the button to generate your code. Once the code is generated, it can be saved as an image and so used in a blog post, printed off in a word document, beamed onto a screen using a data projector, sent in an email, etc.
In terms of using QR Codes for educational purposes, here are a few links to get you started:
- Interesting Ways to use QR Codes in the Classroom (one of Tom Barrett’s ‘Interesting Ways’ series – 40 ways to use QR Codes at the time of writing this)
- QR Codes in the Classroom
- 10 Ways to use QR Codes in a History Classroom (applicable to all subjects)
- Using QR Codes in Student Projects
- Giant QR Codes in the Classroom