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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Using QR Codes in the Classroom

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Whoever said that iPads or tablets would be the game-changers this school year obviously overlooked a trend that has been crossing my social media streams, art museum exhibits, food and products. It seems that no matter where I look I see QR codes being used. I even bought a banana a few weeks ago that had a QR code on the sticker that pointed to the farm where it was grown!

So what is a QR code? It's short for "Quick Response" and it is (usually) in the shape of a square. It looks like a bar code with black splotches instead of lines.

What do you do with a QR code? When you see one, you can use your smartphone or any mobile device with a camera, QR code reader app and internet access (i.e. iPod) to scan the square. Once you scan it, the code will point your device to the web-based location set up by the code creator.

So how can these be used in education? Here are some ideas. Some are easier than others.

  • Create a QR code 'business' card for your classroom (Beginner)
    Create a QR code that points to your class' website or blog. Print them out and hand out to parents on Back-to-School Night or at parent-teacher conferences. This is a fun and easy way to share your classroom with families.
  • Create an internet-based scavenger hunt (Intermediate)
    For any unit your students are learning, you can create QR codes, print them on paper and either place them in a center or spread them out. Each code can point to a site you want your students to use for an activity. This could either be an informational site (i.e. find information) or a brain teaser (i.e. get the ideas flowing). This can help keep your students focused and provide access to a variety of resources when you don't have enough computers for each student.
  • Create a school-wide/community-wide scavenger hunt (Advanced)
    Using the app SCVNGR (for both Android and iOS), create a scavenger hunt around the school. Using the QR code option for each location's check-in, post a QR code in each location for each participant or team to scan. Each code gives clues to the next location. This hunt could be to teach students about different areas in the school or community, or it could be based around a content area.
  • Have you used QR codes in the classroom? What have you done, and how has it worked?

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