Elementary / Primary / Junior, High school / Secondary 2, Required, Technology - Written by Elbert Chu on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 15:58 - 3 Comments
Will QR Codes Revolutionize Education?
by Elbert Chu
QR (Quick Response) codes are showing up everywhere from business cards to magazines. Now, they’re showing up in textbooks and classrooms across the country.
On first glance, they’re nothing more than the lazy man’s way to access information, instead of typing URLs: Just scan. Well, according to comScore, in June, 14 million Americans used QR Codes, mostly linking from magazines or newspapers.
The case for a revolution
There is a growing movement of educators who are enamored with the noisy little black squares of machine gibberish. The blogosphere of teachers is full of ideas and discussions about how to put QR Codes to work for teachers and students.
Over at Good, Liz Dwyer provides a brief summary of the ideas in her summary of why QR codes may revolutionize education:
1. Digital portfolios for students.
2. Connecting with parents.
3. Engaging students.
4. Easing the transition to college.
The main strength of the QR code is the ability to quickly, and almost seamlessly, connect paper, books, or class discussion/lecture with digital resources. There are some teachers who use QR codes to take students on scavenger hunts for location-based learning.
For example, imagine a field trip to an Aquarium. There’s only so much information those little plastic signs can convey. And no one envies a teacher trying to shepherd an excited herd of fifth graders through animal displays. There’s nothing like a lecture to dampen their enthusiasm.
So each student has QR codes on a worksheet, and as they stop in front of the shark tank at their own pace, they scan the QR code on their worksheet corresponding to the shark. The QR code links them to an educational National Geographic video. Then, if the teacher is really ambitious, another QR code can take students to a quiz at the end of the day. If these are really privileged kids, maybe they have Square Crumbs too.
The same could go for homework assignments: Kids might have worksheets that have QR codes linking to Khan Academy or Alison. Of course, students could look up these videos on their own, but there’s something to be said about showing kids how to tap into these resources so they can gain the framework for learning in the future. Further, there is value in helping students bridge the gap between classroom and the world, and paper and digital.
While many schools ban cell phone use during school hours, it is interesting to note that many teachers who want to use QR codes will need students equipped with smart phones. Otherwise schools will have to provide space in already thin budgets for extra hardware like laptops, tablets or webcams. That’s unless your school has $33 million for technology or already have laptops.
Since QR codes are so new, it’s hard to imagine all the ways education institutions will be using them in the years to come. But given the possibilities these black-and-white squares of data present, they just might revolutionize the way we learn.
Don’t call it a revolution
We think revolutionize is a strong word for QR codes’ role in education. They serve as connectors and shorthand, but do not store information themselves. Essentially, the QR code, in its present state is not unlike a Dewey decimal number at the library. In the end, the revolution will come in the content on the other end of the QR code, not the little black square itself.
For teachers, or anyone interested in what some American kids are doing in class these days, here are some handy resources:
- 14 Million Americans Used QR Codes in June [comScore Data] (via hubspot.com)
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