How Can You Use A QR Code in Learning?

OK – I’m one of those people that loves to check out the latest, greatest technology trends early. I don’t know if that makes me a geek or a trend-setter. The latest thing I’ve been seeing is the QR Code. They are everywhere – advertisements, t-shirts, newspapers, websites, business cards….

I have to wonder how long it will be before we start seeing QR Codes incorporated into learning programs. Many learning designers love to try the newest technology as soon as possible so you are bound to see it in a learning program soon.

What’s a QR Code?

That’s the thing most people said when I asked them if they could see how we could use one in learning.  QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can contain any alphanumeric text and often features URLs. They are read by QR Code Readers on smartphones. QR Codes were invented in Japan and are extremely popular there. The use of QR Codes is now spreading quickly through Europe and now is spreading through America.

In my research on this subject, I found a few references to universities using QR codes, but not much about corporate use. Here is a sample of what I found:

  • Andy Ramsden & Matt Roper have a presentation on using QR Codes at the University of Bath. It was an interesting presentation but few in-depth ideas. Through further research, I learned that they have a grant for researching the use of QR Codes in learning.
  • QR Codes have been used in the public space for education about physical items on display. Uses might include plants at a Botanical Garden or painting at a museum. People can scan the code to get a link for deeper understanding of the physical item.
  • Educators using QR Codes to do “Treasure Hunts” in the classroom.
  • Educators using QR Codes on multi-media handouts to save paper.
  • I even found an Australian P.E. Teacher that set up a “Geocache” type adventure using a GPS device and QR Codes for his students.

According to Dawn Gartin, a social media and learning expert, “A big consideration for using QR codes is making sure your audience members have a smart phone. You may consider pairs or teams. BUT, look for those numbers to keep changing as more and more buy smart phones.”

How Do I Get A Reader?

Smart phones have applications you can download to your phone. I just went to the iPhone App Store and searched for “QR Code” and I found several choices for readers. Once you’ve downloaded it, just launch the app, point your camera at any QR code (even the one below), and you’ll get the information on your phone like a link or phone number. Once you’re aware of QR codes you’ll start noticing them everywhere – on business cards, in marketing flyers, and even on TV commercials.

Try reading my QR Code

How to Generate Your Own Code:

Just google “QR Code Generator”. Here’s the site I used:

You can have the code:

  • open a url
  • show text
  • call a phone number
  • or send a specific SMS to a specific cell number

A Few Ideas for Using QR Codes in Learning:

I can see so many ways you can use QR codes in marketing. I can see a few ways we can use these codes in learning, but I’d love to open the conversation for more ideas. Here are the few I’ve brainstormed:

1. Include the code on printed “How To” job aids. A field technician can scan the code to see a video that demonstrates a more in-depth task.

2. Put the code on equipment. Then instead of printed job aids, users can scan the code to get troubleshooting information or directions for use.

3. Put a scan code in your eLearning courses or printed material to launch a video with deeper versions of the story, a white paper, or perhaps bring up a list of related courses.

4. Facilitators can put their contact information on a scan code on the PowerPoint presentation.

5. Links to course evaluation instruments can be accessed through a QR Code.

6. Equipment training centers might include QR codes for tutorials on each piece of equipment.

7. Training centers might include a QR Code on the door of each room that allows someone to make a reservation of the room while standing in front of it using their smart phone.

8. Register for a class using a QR Code.

9. Create a real scavenger hunt for learners in the physical world. Each clue is on a QR code that leads to the next QR code – having them learn the physical space rather than the virtual space. I found a free software application called Mobile 2D Hunt that allows you to create urban games. It contains a leader board, maps with 2d code locations, and a list of clues. I plan on trying it very soon. You can check it out here.

10. Links to assessment instruments like quiz questions.

11. Save paper by putting links to homework, outlines, slides for future reference in the PowerPoint presentation. Students can scan to get the link and reference after class as needed.

12 Use a QR code to poll the class for immediate feedback to see if your message is getting through.  You can use it throughout a longer class to make sure all is going well and be able to adjust as necessary.

13. Use a QR code to launch a sign-in form for the class. It will also act to make sure everyone has the QR Code scanner on their smartphone for the rest of the class and show any newbies how to use it.

My Own Opinion:

If we use them correctly, these could be useful additions to our blended learning toolbox. We can start an entire new thought process around linking learning and information to physical space. They could be used to discover new ways to have experiential learning. They provide us the opportunity to move eLearning away from the keyboard and mouse and into the real world.

I’m not sure the QR Code will be the final version of this type of technology, but it opens the door to a new way of thinking about learning design. As more and more people move to smartphones, more an more opportunities for mLearning innovation are being created.


Interview with Dawn Gartin

Thanks – Leigh Anne Lankford

2 Responses to “How Can You Use A QR Code in Learning?”
  1. says:

    I want to take you attention to We provide QR code generator where you can link all your social profiles, fan pages, videos, etc. Take a look and you won’t regret it 🙂

  2. Rickvid in Seattle says:

    My Droid barcode reader read your code here perfectly. You are welcome for my interest in training staffing services from TrainingPros.

    About 15 years ago, I had the idea to use barcodes in the Instructor’s Guides for an interactive instructor led CBT aircraft maintenance training program. An instructor could leaf thru the Guide to the pages he wanted to teach from, scan the barcode on that page, and the CBT system went right to the specific content needed. This can be done in other ways today, but it was useful then. The barcodes and QR codes are rather like simple hyperlinks, but that they can be used with smart phones in many locations makes them very flexible and widely useful.

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