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Using QR Codes in the Classroom - Part 1: What Are QR Codes?

October 28, 2013


Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and present at the North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators' Annual Conference. I got to meet Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher, Deana from Primary Punch, Jen from Hello Literacy, Laura Candler, and Heather from The Teched Out Teacher!

Me, Rachel, Deana, Jen, and Laura

(This was taken not too long after my arrival, so please excuse my casual dress!)

It was so great to meet everyone, especially those who I have admired online for quite some time!
Not to mention, Rachel also introduced me to these:
Can you say delicious?!?!?

After my presentations were complete, I had to hurry up and get back home to Nashville.


In addition to getting back to work, I had a fun event with Kellie Pickler to attend.
 Now, that I'm back and settled in, I'm going to begin recapping my QR Code presentation. I plan to cover a few topics each day and, hopefully, wrap up the posts by the end of the week. Regardless of whether or not you're familiar with QR Codes, I hope there will be something covered that will be new to you!

Without further ado...

Before we delve too much into QR Codes, let's start with the basics first.

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes are basically a new and improved barcode! While barcodes link to a product and can match a price or inventory, QR Codes can have data embedded in them. When read using QR Code software, the code can open a website or video or download a file.


You may not realize it, but you've most likely seen QR Codes a lot lately. They are popping up everywhere these days.




Companies use QR Codes to connect customers to websites, coupons, videos, etc. Instead of typing in a web address, all users have to do is scan the code.

So, what do you need to scan a QR Code? Let's take a look:

Most Smart devices will read a QR Codes. Examples of Mac products include the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Android-based devices also have the ability to read codes. If you do not have access to these devices, no fear! If you have a desktop or laptop computer with a webcam, they will work as well!


Now, there are a lot of apps and software out there that will read a QR Code. Out of the ones I have tested and used, I prefer Scan. It is available for both Mac and Android devices. It's easy to use and works well.

For Mac devices, I prefer Scan.

For Android devices, I recommend Scan and QR Droid.

For Desktop and Laptops with webcams, these programs will work:

QRreader (must also download Adobe Air)
or use Quick Mark QR Readers

Now that you have your software, how do you use it to read QR Codes? It's easy!


A word of caution. Some apps work better than others. As I mentioned, I prefer the Scan app. It's easy to use, and it also reads symbols (such as dollar and cent signs). Some apps will show symbols as a bunch of mixed up letters and numbers, so always check your codes first before giving them to students. Still, sometimes apps have a hard time reading codes.

Here's some of my tips:

1. Make sure the code is printed well. If you're running low on ink, it will make the codes harder to read.

2. Use in well-lit areas.

3. Laminate is great because it allows items to be used multiple times. It can make it difficult to scan codes though because of how the light can hit the laminate. Always test codes in your classroom before giving them to students. You'll quickly learn what works well in your classroom!

4. Try a different app! If you're having a lot of trouble getting an app to scan a code, try using a different app. Sometimes it makes a world of difference.

Alright, so now we know what QR Codes are and how to scan them. Next on the list is how to create them!



Just as there are ton of QR Code apps, there are also a bunch of QR Code creation websites. I have used many, and my top 2 websites are:
GOQR.ME (It's a basic, easier site to use.)
QRStuff.com (It offers more options including linking a code to a video as well as coloring QR Codes.)



Once you've created your QR Code, you will want to insert it in a document. Below are instructions.






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