QR Codes in Education

I’ve been playing with QR codes for a while, certainly since owning an iPhone, and thinking about how they can be used in education.  This week, a tweet from @hopkinsdavid and an accompanied blog post reminded me to re-visit these odd two-dimensional barcodes in time for teaching in September.

I had previously been using the keremerkan.net code generator, and Qrafter to scan QR Codes on the old iPhone.  Worked well for me.  However, the poster from Hopkins and Bobeva brought a new service to my attention – snap.vu – little difference, other than the addition of a short url below the image, and to go with that, the ability to track usage.

Bingo, now I can check to see if the effort involved in decorating module handbooks (minimal effort to be honest, and gives a bit of artistic ‘edginess’ to the printed pages) is worth doing, in terms of student use.  The one given above will take you… well I’m not telling, go find out!  For those who are curious and lacking in smart phone capacity there is the short-url, handy for making sure students aren’t disadvantaged in any way.  The trouble is, how do I know whether you’ve zapped it, or typed the url…?!

Next challenge – what’s worth translating into QR?

To be honest, with so much material being made available online, is there little benefit to this little mozaic that can’t be gotten from the good old-fashioned hyperlink?

A working paper from Ramsden, A., 2008. The use of QR codes in Education: A getting started guide for academics published as part of scoping study funded by JISC gives me some direction.  Firstly, the type of QR code, which I already knew (Hyperlink, Contact details, Telephone Number, Send SMS).  Secondly, a few ideas as to how to use them in practice.  I’ll elaborate on these ideas, and give some examples.

Contact details

I’m skeptical about giving students too many contact details for their mobile devices – least they contact me immediately once an issue arises that could satisfctorily be resolved with a little reading or research.

My name, email address and office phone are all given within the handbook, and all too-often students belate me that I wasn’t in my office when the passed the other day… so this one will go in the handbook and adorn the office door!

Events / Reminders

This came about as I was thinking ‘what should I put in the handbook that wouldn’t normally be available on the VLE?’, which has now changed to ‘what would anyone want on their mobile, rather than desktop?’ which stems from the idea of placing contact details on the office door.  I’ve created several, but had to revert to my original generator, keremerkan.net,as my new friend snap.vu doesn’t deal with vCalendar events.  This isn’t so much of a problem, as my only desire to use snap.vu is based upon the short url which I could generate myself but would be rather pointless for an electronic calendar event wouldn’t it?!

Reading lists

My other potential use for mobile phones relates to books – either copies in the library, or ones to buy from Amazon.  Either way, I think that there is benefit to be gained fromcutting out the middle step – ie the library catelogue search engine or searching for the book by title/author etc.  The list can also be maintained and updated without the need for any changes to the code or to the printed material that is supplied.  Just to jazz things up a little, I’ve been pasting the QR code onto various logos etc as a transparent layer – seems to work okay, so long as there is a good level of contrast between the black code and whatever’s shown below.

Locations / Events

Finally, by using Google Maps or geographic co-ordinates, there is the option to give directions should an event be taking place somewhere out of the ordinary.  Useful for field trips and other off-campus events.