Sunday, September 18, 2011



This is a QR code.  For those educators that are now getting the urge to take their laptop to a self check-out station at Safeway to scan it, I say to you “you are not far off”.  It is in fact a type of bar code that when scanned takes you to some sort of Internet media.  If you look at many magazines, you’ll see them featured next to advertisements.  If you scan them using a smart phone app (I use Scan for iPhone) a video or website will pop up.  It’s cute technology, though not really that new.

I got a couple of ideas for QR Codes from EdCamp San Francisco Bay.  A session revolving around Flipped Classrooms had excellent ideas for incorporating QR’s by having them on a projection screen linking to videos that progressively help students solve a problem (this was for AP Chemistry).  Students could work at their own pace and the technology was already in their hands (smart phone), technology that is constantly getting a bad rap in the classroom.  I could see something like this with students engaging in analyzing multiple documents in progression or something similar.  Scavenger hunt style document quests that could incorporate media are not a stretch either.  In a perfect world students would take the work home simply by scanning the code and, viola, it’s on the device they use the most in life.  Problem?  Only the super-motivated will even bother. 

Like most pieces of technology, there are people that are overboard and people that are detractors.  Techno-maniacs get so worked up about the value of the gizmo that they start to lose the aspect of the tool being the tool, and actually assess value on something that is massively overblown.  On that “overboard” link there are ideas that don’t need QR codes, or that become more complex if QR codes are introduced.  Detractors refuse to believe that technology will make a bit of difference in the overall pedagogy of their classroom, and therefore call anything new a “fad”.

I plan to use my first QR with APUSH students analyzing Paul Revere’s “Boston Massacre” engraving.  I’ll stick the picture on the white board and put up the QR code linked to the public picture file within Dropbox.  Students can then scan it to their smart phones or tablets (some have them) and zoom in for a more through look at the document.  Yes, it is worth it for them to look real hard.  There are some very interesting things in Revere’s engraving.  We’ll see if the little extra work is really worth doing.   

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