Keeping kids engaged at school is probably the biggest challenge educators face today, but QR codes could provide a solution. With students bringing cell phones, iPods, laptops and tablets into many classrooms, a teacher is in the unenviable position of competing for attention with these new gadgets. But instead of fighting those technologies, how about using QR codes to embrace them when communicating with students?

QR codes are two-dimensional computer generated images similar to a bar code. They do, however, include much more information than older bar code technology. When scanned with a mobile device or webcam that includes a QR code reader application, it allows the user make the leap from the physical marketing piece to digital content quickly and easily.

Some early adopters have already been trying it in schools, like blog writer, John Mikulski, who recently published 10 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom, on his blog, Classroom in the cloud.

There are so many interesting possible applications. Take a look at this periodic table entirely in QR codes. Teachers can give kids an interactive chemistry session with videos for each element. Here are some more ideas to get you thinking about how to use QR codes to engage students, whether they are at the elementary, high school or university level.

Instant Mobile Surveys

Why not use a QR code to launch a survey and create a pop quiz with five to 10 questions. Using a tool like pbSmart Codes allows you to create a survey while you are generating your QR code and corresponding mobile page, making it quick and easy. Or, why not get some interesting insight into your students frame of mind after a test by offering a feedback survey?

Here is a sample of what you could ask:

  1. Did you think the test was: a) easy, b) hard c) just right?
  2. How long did you prepare for this test?: a) less than 1 hour b) 1 hour to 3 hours c) 3 to 6 hours d) over 6 hours.
  3. Did you see anyone cheating?: a) yes b) no.
  4. How did you think you did?: a) failed b) 50-75 percent c) 75-90 percent d) over 90 percent
  5. Enter your name if you would like to sign up for extra help.

Then, while handing back the results, give the students some insight into what the class thought of the test with some actual stats like the class average. By including the average study time, and how everyone thought they did, you can help kids understand if they are under-prepared and help them manage expectations. As an educator, you get a sense of how kids are feeling and thinking, and you give students a way to easily ask for help.

Using QR Codes to Provide Information

Here are some ideas on different ways to use QR codes to convey information to your students. Scanning is faster and easier than copying down a URL, and you can provide an ongoing “library” of links so students can reference them over and over.

  • Why not list a number of websites for research? Products like pbSmart Codes allow you to update your mobi-page while your campaign is active, so you can freshen the content even after your QR codes have been shared.
  • Have a QR code at the front of the class with “video/resource of the day.” Let students scan and watch it as they come in to quiet the class and make those first few minutes productive.
  • For math, add QR codes to work sheets with a video tutorial on how to solve. (Check out YouTube for hundreds of videos on long division, for instance.)
  • French or Spanish class? Record the correct pronunciation of a list of words in video (videotape the word, while saying it out loud) and link it to a QR code added to a vocabulary list. Now, students can study a worksheet of words and focus on not just spelling and definitions but also pronunciation.
  • Create a virtual tour of the school for new students. You could have videos of teachers/principals explaining rules or giving directions and safety tips. This idea would be great for a parents’ night.
  • Create a puzzle-solving lesson. Put QR codes around the school building and have each one lead to a new science-based clue. The clue leads the students to the next QR code. It’s a 21st century treasure hunt!

The sky is the limit when it comes to embedding technology in the classroom. QR codes are an easy, cheap, and fun way to start.

What Next?

Want to see classroom QR codes in action? Check out this video,where the McGuffey School District in Claysville, PA is embracing them in unique and inventive ways!