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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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There are so many tools that educators can use to get students interested and engaged in their work. Like most teachers today, I integrate technology into my instruction everyday. I'm lucky to work in a school with one-to-one technology and use iPads with my students throughout every school day. That makes it easy to use QR codes in my classroom -- and there are many reasons I love using QR codes!

What is a QR Code?

A Quick Response Code is a digital image that can be scanned without the beam of light needed to scan barcodes at the supermarket. It's used in advertising and marketing for smartphone users. You may have seen QR codes on flyers, subway posters, brochures and even cereal boxes. They are often accompanied with a message that says, "For more information scan this code." They can be scanned using one of the many free QR scanner apps available for smartphones and tablets. When you scan the code, you'll be taken directly to a website.

What does this marketing tool have to do with education? If I want all of my students to visit one website, I'll create a QR code for that website. And that's only one of the benefits.

Credit: Monica Burns

How QR Codes Can Make a Difference in the Classroom

1. Eliminate the Frustration of Long Web Addresses

Instead of asking students to type in a long web address where they could easily make mistakes, a QR code will take them straight to a website. It's easy to type in, but directing students to a specific article might require them to type in a combination of case sensitive letters and numbers. QR codes are perfect for students of all ages, but especially for children with special needs and those students who are easily frustrated.

2. Take Students Directly to a Designated Website

We all want to avoid using search engines that might bring our students to the wrong website. This direct approach also limits their exposure to similar sites that might not be kid-friendly. You can create a list of QR codes for websites to make Internet research easier for students.

3. Save Time

Instead of waiting for each student to type in a long web address, they can all quickly scan the QR code. You won't have to waste valuable minutes from your lesson because all students will be on task and viewing the correct website in seconds. Try projecting the QR code on the board or printing just one QR code for each table of students to save yourself the time of making extra copies.

4. QR Codes are Easy to Make

Websites like allow you to generate your own QR code for free. Copy and paste a long web address, and they’ll create a code that is unique to that particular website. You can save, print and distribute the QR code to students.

5. Change Up Your Normal Routine

I love to keep things new and exciting for my students. Try creating scavenger hunts that will get your students to visit a variety of websites to gather information on a topic. Get students engaged and moving by placing QR codes in different parts of your classroom or school building.

Are you already using QR codes in your classroom? I'd love to hear how you're integrating this technology tool into your instruction.


Comments (31)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Gwyneth Jones - The Daring Librarian's picture

Hi! I'm also a lover of QR Codes & have created lesson plans and 2 different comic tutorials to teach kids (and teachers!) all about them! What they are, where they came from, & how to make them in 3 easy steps! They're Creative Commons - so feel free to Take, Use, Share! All covered on my blog post: QR Code Quest Scavenger Hunt Part Deux! I also cover QR code text messages and QR Voice - QR Codes that will talk to you!
Cheers for QR Codes!
~Gwyneth Jones
The Daring Librarian (.com)

Timothy Scholze's picture
Timothy Scholze
Digital Leader/ Teacher

Help me out here. Your students have 1:1 iPads, do they take them home? Or are they the school's and only used in school/certain classrooms?

eeranch's picture

I used a QR code on back to school night. Parents could come in, scan the QR and get all of my information added to their contacts. School phone, email, office hours, etc. It was great and the parents loved it!

Katie Albers's picture

This year we are incorporating QR codes into our yearbook so the students can go back and see video clips of events throughout the school year.

bsboyer's picture
Librarian at Kutztown Senior High School

We post QR codes on the covers of books to get potential readers to watch the trailer before they choose the title. As our students create their own trailers, they are responsible to also generate the code to put on the front to promote both their digital book preview as well as the book itself.

Nicole Naditz's picture
Nicole Naditz
Teacher of French, levels 1-AP, near Sacramento, CA

Thanks for sharing. I am a huge fan of QR codes.
Here's another way I like to use them--and in this case, the students create the codes: QR codes are a great way to get evidence your students' knowledge on a topic of study. An added bonus is that the students then use the QR codes the same way they are used professionally on posters, brochures, and postcards: some information is easily transmitted via print media, but other information, such as audio files, or the content of a related Web site cannot be part of a paper document. As a result, QR codes are used professionally (and by my students) along with printed information to provide dynamic access to a more diverse and rich array of related information. So, I have my students do projects (in French) in which they create a flyer that presents some of the needed information in writing, but has links to other content they have created online and/or audio of them speaking and these other components of their work are connected to QR codes that they put on the brochure or flyer. The information in the QR codes does not repeat the information provided in writing--the point is to use the medium that is the best for the information students wish to convey, thereby also teaching and practicing media literacy.

Tracy Watanabe's picture
Tracy Watanabe
Technology Integration Specialist from Arizona

One of our teachers, Gina Fraher, used QR codes during Meet the Teacher Night. Students and families used iPads to explore the classroom and learn about the fabulous learning that will take place in their class and what to expect. Such an awesome idea for students and families to get familiar with their environment and the teacher! It started the year with positive expectations, and helped build great relationships.

Josh Luukkonen's picture
Josh Luukkonen
High School English teacher in Abu Dhabi, UAE

I was speaking about this with a guy on Twitter, and we noted that if you're flipping your classroom, or using something like Moodle to post most of your classwork, then QR codes become less useful. However, if you're not doing those things, and need to get batches of web information to your students via paper, then you're good to go with the QR codes.

JCollierAR's picture
Jr. High English Teacher from Little Rock, AR

Great idea! I know what I'll be doing this summer.

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
Educator, Consultant, ADE ,

That's fantastic! I've seen them use to tour school gardens too!
[quote]One of our teachers, Gina Fraher, used QR codes during Meet the Teacher Night. Students and families used iPads to explore the classroom and learn about the fabulous learning that will take place in their class and what to expect. Such an awesome idea for students and families to get familiar with their environment and the teacher! It started the year with positive expectations, and helped build great relationships.[/quote]

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