QR Codes: In the Classroom

I’ve written previously about QR Codes, what they are, and how we might use them. I’ve met and chatted with Andy Ramsden of Bath University and seen how they have integrated them into the assignment and feedback process.

I saw two links this morning on Twitter that sparked my interest again, both from @psychemedia which has made me realise that I need to brain-dump my thoughts on how these wonderful little codes can be utilised in the classroom.

But first … I have found that there is something about the QR Code generation we ought to know about; this is

Using a QR Code Generator (like qrcode.kaywa.com) means you can have the code store either a short URL or your contact details as text. Be warned: the more data you ask it to store the larger the final QR Code will be.

Example: The BIT.LY address for my blog is http://bit.ly/9iO6xz. The QR Code for this is:

If I used the whole address of http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk then I get this QR Code (ahh, it’s bigger!):

If I wanted to store my Bournemouth contact details (from my email signature) then it looks like this (click to enlarge … but ouch, that’s too big! Use your code reader to find out what it has stored):

So, you see, you have to be careful about, not only, what information you store, but how you generate the information BEFORE you convert it into a QR Code. I strongly recommend that, wherever possible you use limited amount of text/content when you generate your code. If you have access to your own webspace, blog, etc then create a page/post that will contain all the information you want to make available, then use a URL shortening service to generate the shortest possible link to use for the code (see first example above).

So, with that out of the way, I get on with my thoughts about using QR Codes.

How can we use them? They are an excellent way of directing students to content. Whether the content is a book in the Library, a YouTube video, a seminar room at a given time, it doesn’t matter. What matters is working out an appropriate use. So, where can we use them?

I know the limitations of these codes are highlighted if students don’t have smart phones, or a mobile device without a camera, but I’m not dealing with limitations here, I’ll cover that in another post.

Lecture Theatre and/or Presentation

  • Place the QR Code in a slide that links to a YouTube video you want the students to watch, but you don’t want them to take up your valuable time in your lecture by showing them there and then.
  • Generate QR Codes that refer to materials the students may want to explore, but you haven’t time to show them in the limited lecture/seminar times.
  • Place the QR Code in your slides that links to the information about the core text for the lecture, details of what it is and where in the Library it can be found (floor, section, shelf details, etc, or even link to eBook version if it’s available?).
  • Generate a QR Code that links to an online survey or question you want them to answer while they’re with you, and show them the results (like a CPS system?)
  • Put the QR Code at the end or your presentation for the students to scan as they exit the theatre, that links to an audio copy of the lecture, or to the activity you’ve asked them to do.

Books & Textbooks

  • As these wonderful codes are being used more and more, how about the publishers using them in their printed versions to link to publisher-generated, and user-generated, content? This opens up so much more content than a CD in the back cover could ever do! The following YouTube clip demonstrates how this is already being done.


  • Not every classroom has posters and things stuck to the wall, but what if you and your students worked on a poster about, for example, the San Andreas fault line? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to include audio and visual content in the 2-dimensional presentation? While we wait for video paper to come of age and be affordable, the inclusion of a QR Code on the poster means the person viewing it can still access the video content without typing a long complicated link.
  • If you have a name-plate why not put a QR Code on it which links to your online profile page on the Institutions website? Why not get your business card printed with one it the back; you can then put so much more on it (contact details, publications, research, readings, RSS feed, etc).


  • I originally found information on QR Codes last year when it was blogged about in relation to the codes being placed on conference badges and a useful way for people to collect and share contact details.


  • As I’ve already mentioned, Andy Ramsden and his team at Bath University are leading the way in this field and application of QR Codes, and he recently tweeted that they’d catalogued 1384 assignments. Please read about his work as it is not only a good example of using this technology, it is also a beacon for all of us learn from about bringing the various different departments and interested parties together to develop the system and working practice to make it work.

(finally) Blogging

  • I found this plugin for WordPress recently that sits as a widget in the side-bar that auto-generates a QR Code for each individual page/post. So now you can use a QR Code to save a link as well as browser systems like Delicious.