BYOD initivatives. DVI connections. URL addresses. USB ports. PDF converters. QR codes...
"It's all Greek to me," you might have muttered a decade ago, wondering how on Earth you were supposed to incorporate this ever-evolving maze of technical jargon and acronyms into your routine.
Now, though, the pushback against technology in the classroom has quieted to a low murmur as more educators begin to realize that, when used with purpose and integrated into curriculum, technology can add a significant spark to your classroom. Not to mention the fact that the world you're preparing students for is one that is ruled by these very same acronyms.
If you're not quite sure where to start, we've got your back. Let's start by digging into that alphabet soup and picking out one of the phrases from the top of this article.
Got it! What better place to start than with QR codes? What are they? How are they used? We've got the answers, along with some examples of easy ways you can incorporate them into your classroom and boost your students' engagement.
What is a QR code?
A Quick Response (QR) code is a barcode that can be scanned with a smart phone, tablet, or other electronic device once you have the appropriate app installed. Codes can be programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks, like opening a webpage, bookmarking a page, or connecting to Wi-Fi. You can even use codes as a cell phone management tool, with options like dialing a number, sending a text message/email, and storing contact information.
The interactive nature of QR codes can pique the interest of students, engage them in your lessons, and entice them to explore the wealth of information available beyond the confines of the classroom. QR codes can also make your life easier by giving you a simple way to direct students to a source of your choice.
How can I use QR Codes in my classroom or school?
Promotion: Create a code directing people to information about a school event. In one convenient location, you can provide directions, details regarding when to arrive, and a suggestion list of what to bring.
News updates: Print a dynamic QR code on a document with the title “School News” or “Classroom News.” Students can scan this code regularly to get the latest 411.
Multimedia learning: Put a code in your textbooks or on the notes you hand out to your students. Link the code to a video, blog post, or game related to the topic.
Answer guides: Add a code to a Word document and post it in the classroom. Students can scan the document to gain access to answers and accompanying explanations.
Tutorials: Link codes to videos that give step-by-step instructions on how to carry out a science experiment, compute a math problem, or complete another complicated task.
Expand on displays: Put a code on a classroom display to link students to a video of how it was created or fast facts about what the display does in real life.
Interactive presentations: Allow your students to do some hands-on research as a part of your lecture. Display a QR code on the screen in the front of your room. If you make it large enough, students can scan the code from anywhere in the classroom using their devices. Invite students to visit the linked page to see photos and videos, and to learn more about the discussion topic.
Pro Tip – If you have the code pulled up in a browser, you can make the page larger or smaller using Control + or Control – (for PCs) or Command + or Command – (for Macs).
Scavenger hunts: Send your students searching for QR codes that give hints about an animal, event, or object they are trying to identify, or give clues about where to find the next code.
3 Free QR Code Tools
There are a variety of free tools available that make generating QR codes a breeze. Here are a few you can try*:
*Note - Skyward does not endorse or recommend any particular QR generator. These are just some of the most user friendly and seemingly legitimate sites we came across in our research.
This highly customizable generator allows you to change the fore- and background colors of your codes to help make them stand out, or to help you organize them. It also lets you choose the pixel size of your blocks and margins.
This generator also allows you to customize the foreground color of your code. In addition, it gives you the option of creating dynamic codes, as opposed to static ones. Dynamic codes allow you to change the QR code type or the information they contain, even after they’ve been printed.
If you register for free, this site allows you to create personalized codes containing images such as your school’s logo. This tool also gives you the choice between creating static and dynamic codes.
Now that you know the basics of QR codes, try using them in your school. As with any technology-driven initiative, planning and follow through will be key to an effective roll out, but the result (students interacting with technology for an educational purpose) will be well worth the effort. By taking advantage of the technology available today, you can help your students achieve more tomorrow.
How are you using QR codes to engage students? Let us know in the comments below!
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