Some thoughts on using QR codes
QR codes are essentially 2D images or barcodes, which enable a mobile device to connect up with some sort of information or website. Used extensively in commerce, museums, events, in universities for campus tours to link visitors up to maps and information or for students to confirm attendance. However, they need to be used purposefully rather than randomly sprinkled throughout all teaching and learning scenarios (Jones, 2020).
Flexible and alternative formats
QR codes excel at bridging the online and physical environment and in fostering hybrid learning.
In many cases a URL is effective on its own: in synchronous Teams sessions you can copy and paste easily into the chat. On other occasions, a QR can work well as an alternative format and to provide flexibility for accessing content.
A QR code can be inserted into presentations to provide just-in-time information, further reading, or to link to a poll, survey, quiz, video, voice or audio among other formats. When your content is a video or a presentation being presented on a screen, then a QR code may be more useful to viewers, compared with typing in a long Web address. This provides an opportunity to clean up any unnecessary clutter and to make presentations more visually appealing (Jones, 2020).
Other places you’re likely to find QR codes are in academic and journals or posters [see example [Wooff and McLain, 2015]. Beyond saving on printing, the advantage here is that readers can access supplementary information that wouldn’t fit comfortably within the word limit or space.
Links to polls, feedback surveys, and quizzes can be used in all manner of creative ways. For example, they can enable feedback on student-created artefacts, or simply extend learning opportunities.
QR codes could be linked to video to demonstrate how-to do something or to provide examples to accompany written information. Alternatively, they can be displayed alongside physical machines or artefacts. Other ideas include any type of interactive hands-on or outdoor or field learning, including scavenger hunts.
Follow this link to Kathy Schrock’s collection of resources, how-tos and suggestions Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything
In terms of accessibility, remember to enter ALT text for the QR image. Ensure it is not pixelated and is an appropriate size. It’s also recommended to keep the code away from the edges of presentations or documents so that it can be easily scanned. Apps, such as the NaviLens App can help visually-impaired people, by automatically detecting and scanning QR codes without needing to tap. Consider how users will interact with the QR code, for example whether users will need good internet connection or decent light to scan.
It’s also good practice to be mindful of security and privacy by scanning QR codes from trusted sources only. Increasingly you’ll find options to generate a QR code automatically for sharing digital content, such as with 0365 Forms (as below) among many others, or within content editors or design tools, such as Adobe InDesign.
Most smart phones have cameras capable of scanning a QR code. The user needs to point the camera at the QR code, wait until it aligns, then when the alert appears, click to activate the content. Some users may need to install an app for their phone or device type to enable QR scanning.
There are many sites that enable you to easily generate QR codes. The action and content will depend on the type of generator you use. Although most frequently used to access a Web URL, video, audio or maps, some QR code generators offer an array of capabilities including displaying different information or languages appropriate to the user’s geographic location, the time of day or other filtered criteria. Select dynamic, rather than static codes, if you will need to edit content later.
Links and references
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009). ‘7 things you should know about QR codes’. Accessed 06/02/22) from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EL17046.pdf Jones, Joshua Aaron, (2020) ‘QR Codes in the Classroom: Thinking Inside the Square’ July,1st, 2020, HE SECOND DRAFT - Volume 33, No. 2 (Accessed 06/02/22) https://www.lwionline.org/article/qr-codes-classroom-thinking-inside-square Kathy Schrock, (xxx) QR Codes in the Classroom, “Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything’ 06/01/22. (Accessed 06/02/22) https://www.schrockguide.net/qr-codes-in-the-classroom.html Luigi Oppido and Jack Lloyd (2022) How to scan a QR code, Wikihow, 06/01/22 (Accessed 03/02/22) https://www.wikihow.com/Scan-a-QR-Code Sci Ed (2014) ‘An introduction to using QR codes in scholarly journals’, Sci Ed, 1 (2): 113-117. (Accessed 06/02/22) https://www.escienceediting.org/journal/view.php?number=24 Wooff, D. and McLain, M. (2015) Educational use of QR Codes. In: 2015 SOLSTICE eLearning Conference Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Effective Practices, 4th-5th June 2015, Edge Hill University. (Accessed (6/02/22) http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/9850/
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