I have a rather obsessive pattern of learning new things. I only started learning about QR codes a few weeks ago and I’ve already discovered two exceptional tools for using the fancy phone-candy.
The first is an all-around awesome site from popular QR-code reader Kaywa. This easy-to-use site creates QR codes that generate text, SMS messages, phone numbers or links. The text option alone has dozens of possibilities: creating stickers of questions to put into the margins of books or label a class library. Remember the tests we used to make using colored cellophane that reveals answers? This could make a fantastic 21st century spin on an old idea.
For example: What year did Wisconsin become a state?
Answer correctly and get a jelly bean!
You could also easily add links to paper books that connect students to online material, just as you add links to web pages. Instantly you could make every book a ‘smart book’ by connecting it to online resources.
For example: This could easily be attached as a label to the back of Little Women:
The second resource comes from Classtools.net, and is an automatic QR code scavenger hunt maker. It makes a great introductory activity for students. Just pop in questions and it creates QR codes to post around your school. The site also has great additional resources.
I am descended from the dairy-men of Wisconsin, perhaps the most stubborn people in all the world. My father remembered getting electricity in the barn for the first time; in the mid-sixties. They only used one lightbulb because there was a fear that too much light would spook the cows. Years later, my father got eye surgery on only one eye, because he wanted to try it out for a year before he committed to this new-fangled Lasik thing and risked his good eye.
I must have inherited some level of that stubbornness because I did not immediately jump on the QR code bandwagon. It seems far too gimmicky, something put together to promote movies and sell coupons for laundry detergent. Certainly not something I could see being used I my classroom.
But my mind changed a little when I came across an issue last week where I wanted to easily link to a bunch of files on my Dropbox account. Dropbox added a great feature a few weeks ago that lets you share any file you have just by right-clicking it and selecting ‘get link.’ This is great for me, because now when I want to send videos or whole files to a group of people, I don’t have to muck around finding a website to host them all or even worry about if my audience has Dropbox.
The only problem is that the link to the file is really long, so long that I would have to email it or link it on my blog, not something that I could easily put on a business card or a worksheet. So then I turned to a great URL-shortening service called Goo.gl. It takes a long web address and makes it into a much, much shorter one. It also, for some reason, gives you a QR code. Copy and paste that code into a business card, put it into a PowerPoint, or attach it to a flyer, and you have instant file distribution. This comes in handy if you have a classroom full of iPads or other tablets in a BYOT (bring your own tech) environment. Want students to download today’s homework, or view a video? Using a shortened URL or a QR code can help make that easier.