Saturday, May 7, 2011

QR Codes

So much swirling through my brain after attending edcamp Boston today!  The last session I attended was on QR Codes led by Greg Kulowiec.  First of all, when I sat down in the session, all I knew about QR Codes was what they looked like.  I have been dying for months to learn more, but just haven't had the time (even though Cybraryman sent me his QR Code page a couple of times).  I was in my glory when I discovered that this was going to be a session at edcamp! 

First of all, hats off to Greg who explained QR Codes simply.  It's pretty much a bar code you can scan with your smart phone, iPod, or iPad and it will bring you to content on the web.  While advertisers are using them to lure you to their products in new ways, educators are using them in, and out, of the classroom.  How?  Some fun ideas were shared all around the table!
  • Attach QR Codes to student desks/tables & use SnapVu to change the content as needed.  This way all you have to do is print the code once & go to the site to change what they will be linked to once they 'capture the code'.
  • Create interactive texts.  I often teach my students about the Native Americans that lived in their town.  I have a few resources that I gathered from texts, but have even more resources online.  In the part where it talks about the games Native American children played, I could paste a QR code that links to the video resource onto the article.  Photocopy the article and the children can capture the code to see a video, or picture of what that game looked like.
  • Create REALLY interactive field trips.  I often take my students on field trips, particularly walking trips.  What a great way for them to access additional information while on the trip!  We could be walking down Main Street and I could have a code stuck to a sign that they could capture and discover the history of a particular building.
  • Empower readers.  One of the things I enjoy doing for my students is suggesting books for them to read.  One way I do this is by providing them with a list of just right books.  My books are organized and labeled by level, genre, author, and series.  Imagine having a code on an author label that when clicked will bring the children to that author's webpage?  Or having a code on a level label that when clicked will bring the children to suggested series or authors that write near that level?
  • Engage parents.  Have a classroom website or blog?  Place a QR Code outside your classroom, or on the door, and  let parents snap it to easily access your site.
  • Differentiate.  Once generated, codes look similar.  What an interesting and safe way to meet the needs of your students.  Have different resources linked to codes and provide the codes to the children who need them.
  • Provide passwordsI thought that I was being helpful this year when I created stickers for my students that had their passwords and user names on them.  My students are seven when they enter my room and I knew that they would need this extra support.  This is all well and good until another child gleams that information and uses it.  QR Codes would be quite handy to keep this information confidential. 
  • Give a gift.  My students create e-folios.  What a fun (and thoughtful) way to provide them with a perma-link to their blog and/or website!  Create a unique QR Code and then create a cup, t-shirt, business card, or pin for them!
Just a few ideas, but enough to get me thinking about how to meet my students' needs in new ways.  One of the reasons why QR Codes would be engaging is that it is like a gift you can unwrap online.  When you click, you just do not know what you are going to get!