Well I’ve just arrived home from an excellent holiday to Surfers Paradise Australia were I certainly let my hair down after an extremely busy first year of teaching in 2008. I think it was a really positive thing to have two weeks were I honestly forgot I was a teacher, it dawned on me as the plane landed back in Melbourne that I had some serious work to do to get prepared for the 2009 school year. Anyway while I was up in the super busy place of Surfer’s Paradise with its incredible amount of advertising, I kept running into QR (Quick Response) codes.

So whats a QR code? Basically it works much like a bar code in that it can be scanned and linked to a data set. Unlike bar codes which only contain information from left to right a QR code can contain information from left to right or up and down. As a result QR codes can pack much more information into a smaller space. Now obviously we don’t walk around with mobile scanners to read these codes….or do we…?

Now the truly exciting part is that we do have mobile scanners in our pockets in the form of our mobile phones. Most phones today include a digital camera as standard which is all you require to make your phone read and access the information contained within a QR code. The second requirement is a free program that utilises your phones mobile camera to read the codes. These programs are starting to come as standard on most phones but can be easily download here.

Basically this is how it works

1 – Run the program

2 – It will enable the phones camera 

3 – You then position the camera above the QR code you want to scan and make sure the entire code fits within the screen (i.e. don’t be too close or too far away)

4 – The code will be read and will redirect you to the appropriate URL or information contained within the QR code

So how do I see this being used in a classroom? Well with a site like http://qrcode.kaywa.com/  or Winksite you can generate your own QR codes in a matter of seconds. The site allows you to generate a code that can contain a URL, Text, Phone Numbers and RSS feed or an SMS and then allows you to save it as a JPEG image or embed it on a website. My mind is racing with ideas for such a  groovy easy to use application of technology that most of our students already have their hands on.

So here are a few ideas about how I might use the power of QR codes in my classes:

– Create a treasure hunt in the city of the bush that have QR codes stuck onto them that link students with questions or information that is important to that place they have actually arrived at. Below is an example of a QR code I created for my hometown, Scan it to see how it works. Have you been to my hometown?

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– Create a Multiple Choice test that has QR codes in the place of answers with the students required to scan their answers for automatic correction of test results. http://www.semapedia.com/ generates your codes into a PDF document.

– Have the students create their own QR codes or submit an assignment as a QR code

– Include QR codes on printed worksheets to allow students to link to further reading online

For a really comprehensive guide on QR codes in a classroom have a read below, really exciting stuff

Getting Started with QR Codes – Andy Ramsden

Overall I think this is fantastic and a great way to link the physical world with the online world in a truly meaningful way. So what do you think? How else might this be used?