QR codes (or Quick Response codes, to give them their full title) are two-dimensional bar codes which when scanned with the camera of a mobile device such as an iPad, Android tablet or smartphone can transfer web links, text and email addresses amongst other digital content quickly and easily to users. Popular with advertisers and marketing companies, QR codes give readers an immediate opportunity to visit a website to find out more information about a range of facts, products and services.
For schools that have invested in iPads or tablets as learning tools or allow their students to bring in their own devices (BYOD), QR codes have proven to be a great timesaver for sharing links and distributing information en masse. Projecting large QR codes on a screen so they can be scanned from around the class makes it easy for students to access the same content on their own devices and interact with it individually instead of passively looking at the interactive whiteboard. Scanning also eliminates the possibility they may type in a URL incorrectly and waste time troubleshooting. Printing out multiple QR codes, cutting them up and putting them around the room, adding them to worksheets or including them in homework tasks can lend themselves to a variety of engaging activities which cater to students’ different learning styles.
There are various ways of creating QR codes. You can use sites such as qrcode.kaywa.com or qrstuff.com or apps like QR Code Maker and QRafter for iOS and QR Droid for Android. Adding Russel Tarr’s QR Coder bookmarklet allows you to create a QR code from your browser in one tap or click. Here are instructions on how to add it to Safari on the iPad. The app I would recommend for scanning QR codes is i-nigma as it is very quick and available on different platforms. If you are sent a QR code as an email attachment, you can save it to your device and use the Scan app for iOS and Android to read it.
Here are some more tips on using QR codes in the classroom.
With more and more schools encouraging the use of internet-enabled mobile devices in and out of the classroom, the use of QR codes makes sense as a way of speeding up the transfer of multimedia content, for facilitating personalised learning and for adding an air of mystery for students to what lies behind the black and white squares. If you have never created a QR code before, why not give it a try and think how it can enhance teaching and learning in your classroom.
Joe Dale is an independent consultant who works with a range of organisations such as Network for Languages, ALL, The British Council, the BBC, Skype, Microsoft and The Guardian. He is host of the TES MFL forum, former SSAT Languages Lead Practitioner, a regular conference speaker and recognised expert on technology and language learning. He has spoken at conferences and run training courses in Europe, North America, the Far East and Australia. He was a member of the Ministerial Steering Group on languages for the current UK government and was short-listed for a NAACE Impact Award in 2013 too. Joe was recently described in a Guardian article as an “MFL guru” and “the man behind the #mfltwitterati.” Follow @joedale on Twitter and check out his award winning blog www.joedale.typepad.com.
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