Everywhere I look, I seem to be running into these odd, boxy, hieroglyphic-looking images. I’ve seen them in magazines, at the grocery store, and even in a conference presentation or two. But what are they? Those images are called QR codes. QR stands for “quick response” and they’re sort of like UPC symbols on steriods. Unlike a traditional UPC which only relays information through one dimensional coding, QR codes transmit information through two dimensional coding and can send more complex data. QR codes work with smart phones allowing people to quickly scan the code and visit a website, watch a YouTube video, send a text message, add a contact or so much else. The great part about QR Codes is that they’re really easy to create. There are a bunch of websites where someone can create a QR code for free. I used QR Code Generator from the ZXing Project to create the adjacent QR code (which will link you to the 8 Blog!).
So, besides being neat aesthetically, what can an educator do with QR codes? One idea is adding QR codes to course syllabi to give students easy access to a website or a blog. Adding QR codes to equipment that students use could provide quick access to online tutorials. An educator organizing a field trip could have students access QR codes at different geographical locations to get further information or participate in an onsite assessment. QR codes could also be used for an academic scavenger hunt where students navigate around campus via information relayed through QR codes at different locations. With smart phones and mobile devices becoming more prevalent in schools, we should all expect to see more widespread use of QR codes academically.