When using QR codes, make sure your punch line is worth it

January 9th, 2012

What is this?QR codes have been turning up everywhere from the billboard at the bus stop to the back of the ketchup bottle at your favorite restaurant. These blocky little squares are beefed up barcodes that anyone with a smartphone can scan.

We’re starting to see them pop up in classrooms too. We now have QR code scavenger hunts, periodic tables, and worksheets.

QR codes are great for passing long URLs to your students’ devices. I think they work best when you want to conceal information for a period of time while the students try to solve a problem you have given them. For example, let students scan the QR code for a hint on a difficult problem or create a guess and check bulletin board to review a recent lesson.

Scan and find your science teacher

Scan and find your science teacher

However, are they always worth the time? QR codes are not as quick as they’re name (quick response) makes them sound. They are not worth the time for short messages that your students could probably type in faster than scanning. They are especially slow if your students do not already have the app required to read the codes installed on their device. You risk losing your lesson tinkering with technology for technology sake.

McKee Floyd, director of brand development for Sweetgreen, said it best when he spoke with NPR:

The issue I have with QR codes is that marketing is a little bit like telling a joke, and the longer the joke, the better the punch line has to be — and [using] QR code is a really long joke

I think the same is true in the classroom. If you’re going to use QR codes with students, make sure your punch line is worth it.

One Comment

  1. Tyler Harton 09 Jan 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for linking my blog in your article. My kids have had a blast using the QR Code Scavenger Hunts as a new way to search for a research information. It a great motivation tool. I agree that they need to be used in effective ways. I think the pre-planning of your lesson plays a big part in whether using QR Codes would be effective or not.

    There are also many other way that they can be used as well. Here are a couple websites:
    http://www.emoderationskills.com/?p=278
    http://www.librarygirl.net/2012/01/from-tech-trend-to-teaching-tool-taking.html

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply