QR Codes – Quick Links to Web Content

One thing I needed in this class besides a mobile device was something to read QR Codes, those little black and white boxes with pixilated designs that look like an ancient Mayan designed a bar code! I’ve been seeing QRCs around here and there, but how to read them? The answer, for my iPad, was a great little app called QR Code Scanner Tool from Apple Apps. A quick download and I was ready to go.

Interestingly, this app tends to get either very good or very bad reviews. This app has been working very smoothly for me so far, though, so I am very happy with its performance. It focuses in on the code quickly, scans it automatically, and takes me to the designated web content with no extra clicks.

The main reason to read QR Codes for me is to follow along with one of our texts, Flattening Classroom, Engaging Minds book by Julie Lindsay and Vicki A. Davis.

518hlr0UI2L._SY300_

One fun feature of the book is the numerous QR Codes in the margins that take one to a specific area of the corresponding website, Flat Classroom, sometimes linking to videos, challenges, or interesting applications. There’s no need to type in the exact web address; the code takes you right to the exact page. Thus, with one scan, I found myself reading about a challenge to use new technology in the classroom – and to share my experience with others. Other teachers had already chimed in with successes and challenges. It inspired me to think of teacher collaboration as a potential for “cross-pollination” of ideas and inspiration.

Now that I had a means to scan and connect with QR Codes, I started looking for other QR Codes.

I saw one on the bottom of my raisin box. It took me to a website that first sent me to a movie promotion that the company was sponsoring. That was not of interest to me, but when I clicked around on the site, I found a terrific write up about the history and origin of the SunMaid logo. The logo image was originally based on a real person and a real red sun bonnet, and the story told me all about her and how she came to be featured in the logo. The site had lots of other links to recipes and other ideas, attractively laid out.

Next I tried a QRC I found on my Mueller whole grain spaghetti box. It sent me to a very dull, simplistic website with the logo and two link buttons, neither of which worked. Sorry, Mueller! It looked like a placeholder website while they figured out what to do with this new QRC technology.

I noticed a QRC on a stake that came with my orange pepper bedding plant. Scanning that QRC sent me to a simple website about that variety of pepper. More impressively, the company had a home website that offered lots of avenues to explore, everything from cooking ideas to tips for growing and storing the food and herbs.

A label for a basil plant took me to something similar, and more information about storing and preserving.

I looked for QRCs on other packaging and especially seed packets, but I didn’t find anything of use. I did find something that looked like a code on my tomato plant labeling, but in color. My scanner did not read it, so I gather it is a different kind of code that is less in use. The GetElastic website said it was some kind of designer tag. I think it is a Microsoft QRC tag. Very colorful, but my QRC scanner can’t read it.

I also attempted to scan the QRC off of my new tube of Neutrogena sunscreen. It looked promising, but the QRC was too tiny for the scanner to read. It was only a couple millimeters square. I think we’re going to need a bigger code.

Photo on 5-28-13 at 11.14 PM

Speaking of use, I went looking for QRC codes in magazines and newspapers. The only QRC I found in my newspaper was for Deal Saver, a “daily deal” company.

Out of curiosity, I surveyed the entire newspaper. I found that websites were mentioned more than forty times, and web addresses even more often, especially from the paper itself linking to particular stories, sections, or categories of feature. For instance, the obituary section had its own web link for submitting content. Other sections had links for a particular feature.

Of other mentions directing us to digital content, I saw three directing us to FaceBook, two to Twitter, and only the one to external info via a QRC. Email addresses for paper features or journalists were of course, ubiquitous. The local (state) paper has done a good job making sure we are as connected to their content online as in the physical paper.

Among other magazines on hand, none had any QRCs other than a denominational magazine asking people to look at plans to move the headquarters, and another for a survey. I gather they think they will get more people to fill out the survey if their readers can simply scan the code with their smart phone rather than key in a web address,

QR Codes aren’t ubiquitous yet, but they seem to be “up and coming” technology. They depend on people having a phone or scanner available to scan the codes. The primary use I’ve seen up to this point is on coupon websites. QRC coupons seem to be very popular, but I’m not sure how useful they are yet.

Still, it is very convenient in our book, to scan and go directly to a section of the website showing a particular project or topic. I will definitely look for QRCs in the future.

As I am writing this post, my “related content” that pops up at the bottom is yielding some interesting links and articles about QRCs.

The site Technology in Early Childhood explores using QRCodes to link to sight words as a audio-to-reading matching game for emergent readers. This sounds like it could very fun and useful if scanning technology were easily available.

For more on QR Codes, see the links under Related Articles below.