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Burke County Public Schools > Information and Technology > BCPS Technology Team Blog > Posts > So What in the World is a QR Code and How Can I Use it in My Classroom??
So What in the World is a QR Code and How Can I Use it in My Classroom??

Everyone has probably seen these things around but you may not know what they are . . . QR codes. First of all, QR stands for Quick Response Code.  This is an example of one below - this one, if scanned by a QR reader, will take you to this very site (not too helpful since you are already here - LOL).


To use a QR code, you must have a QR Reader (a scanner of some sort).

Here is another sample of a QR code that takes you to a site outside of our website (this QR code is actually a URL related to QR codes):

So why are these things so popular and exactly how are they helpful to you as an educator? Well, first of all, these codes are basically 2 dimensional barcodes - similar to what you are accustomed to seeing on most commercial packages in one dimension. You can get more information on these coded, scannable images than the typical UPC codes. The next time you are at the grocery store or your favorite big box store, pick up a few items and you'll see that most of your major brands have replaced their traditional UPCs with these codes. If you have a smartphone, download a QR Reader app (you can find a free one listed below) and see what information pops up on the item that you scan.
Not only can product information be stored in a QR code, other information can be linked here.  QR codes can be used to take you to a URL (website), provide a service (like download a newsletter, a resume, a business card, instructions for something, etc.) - applications are widespread!
Now what does this have to do with education and instruction? Well . . . there are lots of resources out there for QR codes and instruction. I'm going to give a few websites at the end of this blog post for you to explore. I'm just going to give you the 20,000 ft view of things so that you can understand how this all fits in with instruction. 
Most educators who have harnessed the power of QR codes in their classrooms have used QR codes in ways similar to that of a scavenger hunt - a quick way to get students to places on the web without the trouble of typing in URLs. They've also used QR codes to get instructions out to students regarding activities and assignments.  Some educators have taken some great ideas of the past, such as webquests, and transformed them into newer more exciting activities using QR codes by replacing the components of the webquest with QR codes that function much in the same way. Students can use their phones or mobile devices to interact and get involved in the lesson in different ways than before.
Other innovative ways to user QR codes might include taking surveys/polls, assigning homework assignments, flashcards, forms, feedback, and digital portfolios. 
Anyone can make a QR code.  Just do your own Google-search for QR code creator and you can create your own in about 20 seconds for a URL.  If you need to make one for a text file, it's not too difficult. You can download an app for you smartphone or mobile device/tablet (free apps are available).
Here are some great resources if you are interested in exploring some things that other folks are doing:
iPad Apps for QR codes:
  • QR Reader for iPhone (works on both iPhone and iPad) - there is a free version
  • Easy QR (Free Version) - available for both iPhone and iPad

Also, check out on iTunes U the video library Teacher Technology Tools (4 episodes) by Craig Van Ham:

  • QR Codes for use in the Classrooms