Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Let's think through the skinny on QR Codes

Quick Response (QR) codes. OK, they're convenient. You see them everywhere now, if you're looking. If you're not looking, you don't notice them or you're so immune to over-information that you don't care. And isn't that the way and isn't that just perfect? Quick for mobile folks with smart phones and no time to type long addresses on tiny keyboards; just a tiny bit of ignorable black ink for the digitally-adverse.  

Brilliant mobile app for a generation that seeks information on the go, when they need it, where they need it. How does it work? We want more information, we find the QR code somewhere on the page or site or billboard or pamphlet or wall, we point our phone and we're online. No surprise that you never see them in higher education, even though we're ground zero of endless information delivery. 

What we are NOT is aware of technology, convenience, mobility, ease of use, or information design. It's why most of our Learning Management Systems still look like the 19th century classroom: the instructor controls the announcements, discussions, assignments, and exams. The students throw themselves into the flow of the information and hope for the best. 

But what if...? (I love that question!) What if we took the simple step of creating QR codes for material we want our learners to access in the near moment and we made it so quick and easy for them to do so that they  increased time on task available by reading course materials on the bus, in a waiting room, between meetings? And what if more time on task (one of Chickering's seven principles!) means better grades?

Wouldn't that be the right thing to do and doesn't it just feel great doing the right thing? If only our intentions and the right thing to do were more closely aligned. So, if the only thing that has stopped you from creating QR codes for your assignments and readings were knowing HOW to do it, here's the skinny on how:
1) Go to a free QR creator site and enter the URL of the page you want to be the target
2) Add the captured image to whatever locations (syllabus, course Web site) will be handy. 
3) Tell your students to search for a free QR Reader app for their smart phone. 

You're done. Here's a nice site that walks you through step-by-step:  How to Create a QR Code. Once you're done, go ahead and find out where the QR code above leads you.
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