Next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up a product and look on the packaging for something that looks like these:
These are QR codes and you’re going to start seeing them all over the place. You’ll find them in magazines, on TV, and even on t-shirts. That’s right, the Grade 6 students at ISY have made a class t-shirt using QR codes. It’s the ultimate in geek-chic! Wearing one of these ultra-cool codes tells everyone: “I’m standing at the cutting edge of technology, and the view is amazing!”
So what are QR codes? QR stands for ‘quick read’ and these codes can be read by smart devices like iPods, iPhones and other mobile devices with a camera and a QR reader like ‘i-nigma‘. QR codes are like bar codes but offer richer information. QRs can generate text, direct you to a website, connect you with a phone number or send an SMS.
QR codes offer some very exciting ways to interact with the environment. Imagine standing in front of a building. You whip our your smart phone and point it at a tiny QR code mounted by the front door. Immediately a website appears on your screen that gives you the history of the building, or links to the websites of all the offices inside. Or imagine marveling at a piece art with a small QR next to it. With a smart phone you can read the code and link to a website that tells all about the artist, displays videos and photos of her creating it, and a list of other venues to view more of her art. All very exciting, indeed.
Making QR codes is simple and fun, and it reminds me of how I loved creating secret codes as a kid. There are many places on the web to create them. My students and I use a site called qrcode-kaywa.
For an excellent and more detailed explanation of this amazing technology, check out Vicki Davis’ ‘QR Code Classroom Implementation Guide’. I learned about QR codes from Vicki at the Flat Classroom Conference in Beijing and have been hooked ever since. While still a beginner, I sense a great potential for these cool codes to add another exciting dimension to education in the same way that they augment the reality around us.
For now, my students and I are just going to strut around proudly wearing our QR codes like members of an elite team. We’re out to let the world know that geek is the new cool.