QR codes for innovative learning possibilities in the classroom
Last Updated:  April 16, 2021
With the advent of the 21st century, there was colossal development in various sectors. This development, however, did not leave the education sector untapped. Learning, in this century, goes well beyond the four walls of a classroom and a survey in 2016 that indicated that daily use of technology in classrooms was up 55 percent attributes to the same. The fact that when technology is brought in, the attitude of millennial and Gen Z students can change, is a huge observation that teachers have made while switching from traditional textbook reading to technology based reading.
Interacting with technology is a huge aspect for students of this generation and to be able to use it in a positive manner is an added advantage. One such technological aspect that has taken off in popularity and use case is QR codes.
QR codes: a quick introduction
QR [Quick Response] codes are basically an upgraded version of barcodes, that can hold more information and be used in various cases. QR codes can be scanned by smartphones to reveal the information that they encode. That way, information is shared precisely and with ease to each student.
Smartphone and internet access in schools with classrooms ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade is a common phenomenon. With QR codes, the possibility of use in every grade level, with every subject as well, is demonstrated. A wide variety of materials like audio, text, PDF, website links and so on can be embedded in a QR code. Ranging from sharing project materials to students, digital slideshows, usage in libraries and so many versatile uses, QR codes can function as a great option for interactive education.
How would students benefit from the usage of QR codes?
1. QR codes for unique student identification
Manually entering the details of students and uploading the same can be a tedious task. The extra effort can be eliminated by generating a unique QR code for each student, which would encode the personal details of each student, hence making identification easier.
2. QR codes in classrooms for curriculum distribution
Whenever a teacher assigns a project to students, sharing online resources could be a barrier. Instead, the teacher could upload the links to the resources, encode it in a QR code and share it among the students. The teacher could encourage students to use QR codes as well, for project submission via text or audio. Kids in kindergarten could be subjected to fun, engaging activities with QR codes, like scavenger hunts, compliment codes and so on. The fact that the interaction starts with them getting out of their seats and moving around has made the implementation a huge success. Distributing answer keys after a unit test can also be made easier using QR codes.
3. QR codes in libraries
Schools can make use of QR codes in libraries to ensure better management. Learn how the San Diego State University had QR codes in their library catalog of books, that upon scanning, led to information regarding title, call number, which floor the book was on and its availability. QR codes could also be used to share book reviews, Google forms that allow students to input their reviews as well.
4. In co-curricular events and activities
Art classes and other extracurricular activities could make learning much more enjoyable with QR codes. If the students have a designated project for a day, that could be embedded within a QR code and shared with the students. Digital galleries of the projects could be uploaded and embedded within a QR code to check on a student’s progress.
5. Event announcements, voting and additional information
QR codes on flyers and posters regarding an event, where students can scan and have the event saved on their phone, or in classroom voting, where the QR code leads to a Google form where they could vote and submit information are just a couple of use cases. Additional use cases involve QR codes to help students with homework, where in case of a question, they can simply scan the QR code to get materials related to the lesson of the day. QR codes for teacher information, to digitally share projects are just a scratch on the surface of the uses of QR codes.
6. Specimens and botanical gardens
Science-related activities can be made more interactive and fun with the usage of QR codes on specimen bottles and science models. If the school or university has an open area that can be converted into a botanical garden, then each plant species can have a small QR code tagged along for species-specific information to be displayed upon scanning.
7. Image galleries and digital projects
The school can set up QR codes near different sections like the gym, lab and have image galleries of these sections embedded in the code. With most students leaning towards the ease of creating projects using technology, encouraging them to comprise their projects in QR codes or to cite the resources via QR codes could be steps towards interactive education.
Frequently asked questions for QR code usage in schools and universities
#1 What should be the optimal QR code placement and size?
For QR codes to be effectively scanned, make sure the size is not below 1.2×1.2 inches. While size is an important matter, their placement is as well. Make sure they are always placed in a position where the students can identify and scan. They can be placed on flyers, notices, memos, textbooks where they can lead to audiobooks and related materials and so on. For optimal QR code placement, identification capability, distance, and size are the main factors.
#2 Are there any types of QR codes?
There are in fact, two types of QR codes – Static and Dynamic. Static QR codes are more preferred for one-time usage, like voting on Google forms, event advertising, news of the day and topics that have relevance for a shorter period of time. The information behind static QR code, once printed, cannot be changed.
In the case of dynamic QR Codes, one can update the information behind the QR code anytime, without having to change the code. In the case of library book updates, dynamic QR codes can be used.
#3 Aren’t too many QR codes of the same type confusing to students?
The fact that QR codes can be customized to various colors and logos is a feature of their success ratio. QR codes can be customized to have a certain color and the school/university logo can also be embedded on the QR code, to make a distinct mark. If a particular QR code is being used for textbook references, a logo of a book on the QR code can help students distinguish
Schools and universities that have enhanced learning for students of this generation:
1.University of Texas, Arlington
The library at this university has successfully used this technology in their book reservation and cataloging system that allows them to easily look up books in the library and make reservations for study rooms and digital resources.
This university takes the utmost effort to maintain student data privacy and security and the same is highlighted in their Multi-Factor Authentication system that requires a QR code to update information and access it as well.
With the use of this technology, the merit is in the fact that it can be applied to an audience range of kindergarten to universities. QR codes have shown a newer, easier way of handling and sharing materials that schools and universities can make use of, as digital learning is the newest leap in the education world. It not only enhances communication between students and the staff but allows for better management of resources as well