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Using QR Codes in the Classroom

Mary Beth Hertz

HS Art/Tech Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
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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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Joe Winston's picture
Joe Winston
4th Grade teacher @ HKIS (Hong Kong International School), Coetail 2012

I like all three of your ideas for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. I haven't used QR codes in my classroom yet, but plan to do so soon. I teach 4th grade. I've been looking at the new Bloom's Digital Taxonomy ( and I'm trying to see how I can combine what I'm already required to do in the classroom with incorporating the tech skills necessary for developing the higher order thinking skills.

I plan on combining our fantasy reading unit's objectives of summarizing and noticing author's writing style with the QR codes. Each student will do a book talk on a self selected text on iMovie. After some editing it will be posted to the class blog. They will then make a QR code and place it on the back of the book in the library.
Students that are in the libray hunting for a new read can ask for an itouch or ipad as the browse. If they come across a book with a QR code they can watch the book talk.
When they complete the book the student can return to the class blog and leave a comment on their view of the book.
I feel this activity will encompass all six elements in the revised taxonomy.
Any comments or pointers? All are welcomed.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
HS Art/Tech Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Sounds like a great idea. Can you coordinate with other classes and/or the librarian? It would be really great for students to have a place to share reviews and build a network of readers.

Also, it sounds like a great opportunity for the librarian to build a community of readers. If the kids review the book while addressing author style it would make for a more authentic experience.

Love the idea!

Dominique Marshall's picture
Dominique Marshall
English Instructor at Community College in North Carolina

This sounds like a fantastic idea. It's given me ideas about book reviews within my literature classes, thanks!

Zach's picture
11th & 12th Grade Science Instructor from Medina, OH

I've just read this article and am interested in exploring the use of QR codes in my classes. How do you go about creating the codes and adding content to what you've added?

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Zach,
QR codes are really just ways of sending text to your device. That text is most likely a link to a website, but it can be a short paragraph's worth of information as well. Once the QR code is created, it's locked to content, but if you point it to a webpage, you can always update that webpage.

I really like for creating QR codes. It has lots of options for different kinds of links that QR codes can make, and allows you to choose the colors of the design.

Dians's picture

Great post,
It is the first time I hear about QR technology. It's something new for me. I am Spanish teacher and QR look very useful for my class. Also, will be a great tool to keep in touch with my students and their parents. In my class I use Google classroom to create and collect assignments, activities, projects, homework; all that you want to do in your class. With Google classroom, you can check and see immediately who has or has not completed the work and provide a direct feedback to each student. As well, you can ask questions and make comment.
I cannot wait to start using QR in my class.

EMS24's picture

Wow! I have recently been exploring technology and was curious to see how this can be used in the classroom. You shared some great ideas. I appreciate the information and find the ideas for beginners, intermediate and advanced users helpful. We are about to go on fall break and I will be using this as a springboard to help me think of ways to integrate Qr codes when we return possibly in Social Studies or Science. I am very excited. Thank you!

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