QR Codes in Education

QR codes are a technological advancement that allows information to be accessed quickly by using a smart phone. While QR codes were developed in the 1990’s they were used primarily to keep track of inventory and manufacturing. In more recent years QR codes are being used in many other ways. A QR code is a two dimensional barcode that can store information both vertically and horizontally. This ability greatly increases the storage capacity of the QR code. There are not many places a person can go today without seeing some evidence of the use of QR codes. They are visible on products, signs, business cards, t-shirts, advertisements, store fronts, menus and billboards. These uses are mainly consumer oriented but there is another field of use for QR codes that is becoming more widely recognized. That field is education.

There is a hurdle to overcome if QR codes are to be used in the classroom. Many schools ban the use of electronic devices such as cell phones and iPods in the classroom. There is concern that the devices could be a distraction both to the students using them and to the other students in close proximity. If the students are using their devices to text their friends or to rock out to their play lists the distraction would be evident. Use of cell phones with QR code scanners in the classroom may teach some people that there are many ways to use your device in addition to phone calls and texting. There are also concerns about safety in situations where expensive electronic devices are present in classroom settings where not every student has the means to own one. Safety should be a concern in schools at all times. Perhaps funding could be garnered from a company interested in advancing education and devices could be made available to those students who do not have them. Once these potential problems are dealt with the classroom possibilities are endless.

In the chemistry lab you could scan a QR code that would remind you of the safety requirements for the chemicals that you are about to use. The equipment in the lab could be coded to give a tutorial on how a particular machine operates. Another QR code might be available to direct you to an FAQ webpage to assist you in overcoming any problems you encounter.

QR codes can be used to develop a digital portfolio for students. This portfolio could be updated each year with examples of the students work and information of the progress made by the student. A digital portfolio would be easily accessible by the student, their parents and even prospective colleges looking for further information that might be hard to evaluate on test scores alone.

Colleges are using QR codes in an attempt to make the acclimation of freshmen students easier. QR codes found around a college campus can help a student find their way to class.  Professors QR codes would allow students to virtually meet their professors before attending class. Anytime a student can increase their comfort level on campus their chances of success are increased.

Museums are even using QR codes in their exhibits as a way of getting patrons to interact. The more engaged a visitor is the more useful an exhibit can be.  A painting is beautiful to look at and the artists name is probably readily available. A QR code alongside the painting can give the viewer the opportunity to learn what inspired the artist to create a particular work of art. It can also give information that would direct an admirer to other works created by the artist as well as a comparison to other artists with a similar style.

The potential to advance learning is one of the reasons educators are taking a closer look at QR codes. Every teacher wants to find a way to encourage and inspire their students to learn more. The more opportunities that can be offered to the student the better their chance to do just that.  QR codes are just one new and technology based ways that educators can achieve their go