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Education and Learning, Learning, Uncategorized

Using QR codes in education

QR codes are a type of barcode that can be read using a smartphone to, typically, open up a website where they can access more information through websites, photos, videos, etc or activities on different sites such as interactive quizzes or collaborative documents. They’ve become more popular in the last few years for a couple reasons. First, most mobile phones now have a QR code reader that comes with the phone and just requires you to hold your camera up to the code when you’re connected to the Internet. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic increased use both through creating easy to use vaccine passports and by encouraging fewer shared materials like menus.

While the codes have been used in business settings the uptake in education has been a little slower. But there are many possibilities for use.

They can help increase accessibility by providing an immediate link to class resources like slide decks, videos that explain difficult concepts or even assignments, or tools like quizzing apps. They can link to information about office hours or booking sites to schedule appointments. They can also be used to set up things like scavenger hunts. I just set one up today to give students easy access to a collaborative notes document.

I’m a fan of things that can increase access and support active learning. It is important to consider how these activities are set up though. Having a cell phone and mobile Internet shouldn’t be a requirement to access course materials and activities. So having students work in pairs or groups is helpful. Students should also have access to the materials through another option if needed.

So once we get through all the planning and set up, what do students think about using QR codes for learning?

Rabu, Hussin, and Bervell (2018) found that two factors were most important for the students: ease of use and playfulness. Ease of use is pretty straightforward and has been significantly helped, as mentioned before by the increase in embedding the readers into the factory models of cell phones. But what counts as playfulness?Playfulness in this context includes being curious, being interested in what they’re doing, and being focused on the interaction.

I’m curious what implications this has for how instructors use QR codes. Are there certain types of uses that are more interesting and therefore perceived by students as better? Does the novelty of using QR codes make them inherently interesting at the moment? Will this change over time? I guess time will tell.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.


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