Exploring QR Codes in Education

Keen to continuing researching the use of new technologies in supporting students learning, I am particularly keen to look at the technologies which they are already familiar with including smart phones. Having entered the world of the iphone a couple of years ago I have since seen a huge growth in the number of students with some kind of smart phone. Although I have been aware of QR codes for a while I have never stopped to consider their potential uses in education until stumbling across some articles whilst doing some research for my AST role.

So what are QR codes?

A QR code is a barcode like logo which can be scanned by smart phones, tablets etc. These codes can contain a variety of information which they direct the user to once scanned, including weblinks and text.

There are already a variety of interesting articles on the use of QR codes in education:

QR codes in education

Can QR codes enhance student learning?

QR Codes in the classroom

QRC101 is an excellent resource site focusing on the use of QR codes in education with a whole series of links to articles, videos and presentations. There is a huge amount of information here and I have only just started exploring it.

I also found this very interesting ‘critical’ overview of QR Codes and Education (http://itbabble.com/2011/09/03/qr-codes-and-education/) which sparks debate and questions the value of QR codes and whether they are gimmicky rather than adding to the educational value. A very interesting read and something I am keen to respond to more when I have tried it for myself.

So where do I go from here?

I am keen to start trying out QR codes in the classroom, but don’t want to ‘force’ them into all my teaching so I am going to start with just a focus on the VI form and thinking about how I can use the codes to help the students connect more with their
learning and encourage them to read around the subject more. As a starting point I
have done the following:

(i) Year 12 – are currently working on river features along the course of the river and are going to be constructing A3 sheets for the Upper, Middle and Lower course with
detailed notes and diagrams on the formation of the associated features. QR
codes already embedded on the sheets links to photographs of the features.
These will also be used for homework to encourage students to describe features
from a photograph.

(ii) Year 13 are looking at the sustainable management of rainforests and tomorrow’s lesson will focus on looking at a range of strategies that can be used. It is important that the students become more critical and start to evaluate the strategies and QR codes have been embedded in the notes sheets that will be used in the lesson to a
range of articles providing different points of view on a number of management

I have also created an interactive display for my Year 11 form’s careers board with details of VI forms and colleges with QR codes providing direct links to prospectuses and websites from the display itself.

Other more general ideas to explore for the term ahead:-

  • · Interactive Geography in the News Wall display – pictures and headlines of major geographical news stories with associated QR codes linking to online news video clips, websites and further images.
  • · Interactive Revision Guides – to help ensure students have a fully integrated and interactive revision programme at GCSE. Current revision guides updated to include QR codes with links to the online resources, specific podcasts and where relevant model answers to exam questions.
  • Further Extension links in presentations used in A’level lessons to encourage students to undertake further background reading.
  • · Use of QR codes on information posters around school (thanks to mrjmutton for this idea)

A working list which will hopefully be updated as inspiration strikes!

There are undoubtedly a number of issues I am going to need to consider. What about students without smart phones? Am I getting over enthusiastic about something that will turn out to be just gimmicky? Or will it genuinely provide another way of encouraging students to interact and connect with their learning? I look forward to finding out!