Sunday, July 10, 2016

What are QR codes and Why are they used?

I have been posting about these digital stations that I have created for my classroom. I use them all the time and our district does too.  I go to technology conferences and see them everywhere in education. Not everyone uses or even knows what a QR code is. Or better yet, why they are used, especially in education. I was prompted to write this post by Tuesday Desaulniers comment on Facebook, I love our Art Teacher #PLN (Professional Learning Networks) for this. It really helps us grow.

A QR code is a black box that has a distinct pattern on it.  It looks like the image above that I used on my Yarn Braiding Digital Station. A QR code can bring a device to a website by scanning it.  So when I want students to watch a video, I can create a QR code and that will bring a device directly to the video with a scan. 

I start by finding a link that I want to bring students to.  For example, let's say I want to make a QR code that will allow the user to view a Youtube video of one of my students explaining about an art award she received. I would first go to the video and copy the URL.

I then go to a QR code generator (there are lot's out there, here's the one I used). Paste the URL in the field and hit CREATE a QR CODE. Then, Download.  On this site, once you hit download a pop-up screen will come up. WAIT, it will download in a couple of seconds. It will be in the format of a zip file.  Just click on it and it will open into a beautiful QR Code in the form of a .jpg.

Now you have a .jpg of your QR code.  You can use this on anything... a worksheet, a station, by your student's artwork... the possibilities are endless. 

You can actually scan this from your computer to view the video 

So now you have the QR code, how do you scan it. Again, there are lot's of good QR code readers out there, but I like i-nigma QR code reader. Some QR code readers have advertisements, so far, i-nigma does not.  If you are having your students use this, simply place this reader on your devices.  If you are having parents or your students use their own devices, ask them ahead of time perhaps in a newsletter or note to download this free app.

When you open any QR code reader for the first time it's going to ask for access to your camera.  Allow it, the camera is what reads the code.  You place the camera over the code and it will prompt you to 'go online'.  When you do it will bring you to the desired link.

So what?? Why do we want to use QR codes rather than just a URL link? I have found QR codes to work the best for my youngest students.  As I mentioned, our students are used to using QR codes.  They scan and go.  The alternative is using a URL... the URL for the above QR code looks like this... 

That take some time to type in for anyone let alone a 1st-grade student. So you can shorten the URL with a Google URL shortener. Doing that for the URL above shortens it to...

Much shorter... but still takes much more time to type than just scanning a QRcode.

There you have it, the why, and how of QR codes for the purpose of education.  I can not stress enough that this might not fit into everyone's classroom.  That's fine, there are so many right answers to 'how to teach art'.  This might be a great solution for some classrooms though, so that's why I share. Let me know how you use QR codes in your classroom. Robin Nobes had an awesome idea in a discussion on Facebook... 

UPDATE:  This comment was posted after posting a link to this blog post on Facebook.  GREAT idea!

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