Wednesday, June 13, 2012

QR Codes: The What & Why for Educators

Kerrville teachers learn about QR codes @ Techpalooza 2.0
Many educators think the jury is still out to whether QR codes are more than a current educational fad. Others think it is a very useful tech tool that will be engaging students in classroom learning activities for years to come. Regardless of current opinions, there are plenty of teachers who are somewhat clueless about QR codes so if this includes you then be in the dark no more! Even if you decide not to use QR codes with your students, you will at least be better informed and able to share the 411 with others when the topic comes up (and it will).

So, what is a QR Code? The term is an abbreviation for "Quick Response Code" (which gives you a hint). QR codes are similar to barcodes and have been around since 1994. They were used as a way to track vehicles during manufacturing. If you want to know more of its history, click on the hyperlinked term in the previous sentence. Otherwise, keep reading and find out why teachers are jazzed about using QR codes in the classroom.

At last week's Techpalooza 2.0, teachers in Kerrville ISD had a chance to learn more about QR codes. A self-guided tour was setup in a classroom so teachers could experience for themselves how QR codes work rather than just hear about it (another brilliant idea by Joel Adkins). The photo above represents the discovery process and I had fun watching teachers figure it out. It made for some creative discussion afterwards.

If you missed out on Techpalooza 2.0 or didn't get a chance to visit the QR Code Room because you attended other sessions, then use the following step-by-step instructions to find out for yourself what QR Codes are about and how you might use them in your classroom. Sometimes you just have to experience it before you can understand it. Once you have the "ah-ha"moment, you can rush down to the resource web links at the bottom of this post post to learn more.

A Techpalooza 2.0 Session Brought to You!

Step 1: Install a QR Code Reader on to your mobile device. There are free apps available for most smartphones and tablets. Go to your mobile device's app store and search for "qr code reader" and install one of the apps that received good reviews.  For example, here are a few to consider:
  • iOS: QR Code Scanner, i-Nigma 4, QR Scanner, QRReader
  • Android: QR Code Scanner, Barcode Reader, QRdroid
  • Blackberry: QR Code Scanner. Barcode Reader
Step 2: Open your QR Code Reader app and scan your first code.  Below are two codes to get you started and give you an idea how it all works. You need to hold your smartphone or iPad camera at the right distance (depends on code size) for it to scan automatically. After a couple tries you will be scanning and learning in no time!
Example #1: A Special Message 

Example #2: A Cool Blog

Learn How Other Teachers Use QR Codes in the Classroom:

QR Code Classroom Implementation Guide (by Cool Cat Teacher)

QR Codes in the Classroom (by Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything)

10 Ways To Use QR Codes in the Classroom (by Classroom in the Cloud)

QR Codes Explained and Ideas for Classroom Use (by Free Tech 4 Teachers)

Learn How to Create Codes with QR Code Generators:

Qurify (a free web-based QR Code Generator)

Quikqr (another free web-based QR Code Generator)

Tip: There are also mobile apps that will allow you to generate QR codes. Search for them the same way you did for a reader except type "qr code generator" (some of these are not free so happy hunting for the free apps).

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