The magic of QR codes in the classroom – Karen Mensing
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The magic of QR codes in the classroom – Karen Mensing


As most of you know, QR code stands for quick response code, and it’s a two-dimensional bar code that holds a good deal more information than a traditional bar code. They originated in Japan
at the Toyota factory to track the manufacturing of car parts. Since then, they’ve taken
off in popularity, and you’ll see them everywhere
in consumer advertising. When you scan a QR code,
you’re instantly taken to a variety of tech-based experiences: Could be a text message, could be an audio message, could be a website, could be a video. It’s like magic. The tools to create a QR
code are essentially free, and the tools to interact with the QR code are increasingly easy and common to use. So, we have this great, free, easy tool, but what can we do with it? Teachers have realized
there’s a lot of potential for QR codes in the classroom. Recently, I told my class
we would be learning some new vocabulary words, something we do
two or three times a month. They let out a groan because it’s kind of a boring activity. Then, I passed out QR
codes to all my students and told them we’d be interacting
with them with devices, and that’s how they’d find
their vocabulary list. The attitude in the class
changed completely. They went from groaning and moaning to excited and enthusiastic. I could teach the exact
same lesson using QR codes and not using QR codes and get a completely different attitude. One fun activity to do with QR codes is a scavenger hunt. I create QR codes with tasks
assigned to them. I hide them all around the room. Students go with their devices and scan them and have
to complete the task. Recently, I hosted a technology
event at my school and held a school-wide QR code. Students loved it. In grades K through 6, they were completely engaged and excited, literally running from code to code because they were so excited to see what the next task was going to be. Students who didn’t have devices with them were begging their parents to pull out their smart phones so they could participate as well. It was so refreshing to see that level of enthusiasm
and excitement regarding learning. A creative use for teachers for QR codes is for positive reinforcement. Put up a poster in your classroom with numbered QR codes, each one leading to a different message. When a student needs some feedback, tell him, ‘Go scan number 5.’ ‘Go scan number 22.’ And the message will say, ‘Great job today! I love your enthusiasm.’ ‘Nice work! I can see you’re
working really hard.’ It’s so much more exciting for a student to get out of their seat, scan a code, and interact with something for then the teacher
just to say, ‘Good job!’ It’s much more memorable. Libraries have endless uses for QR codes: scannable book reviews, lists of reading suggestions and book lists on the walls, biographies. Imagine pulling a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. off the shelf, scanning a QR code, and being instantly taken to the “I Have a Dream” speech. It literally makes learning come alive. QR codes can add a nice 21st century twist to a traditional assignment. Each year, I have my class create a poster for a book report, something we’ve all probably done at some point in elementary school. It’s a little bit of a boring assignment. The kids enjoy it okay. This time, I changed it up, and the second step of the assignment was to have them record their voices, recording an audio QR code of themselves giving a book review of the book. They then printed the QR code, attached it to the poster, and gave the poster a hands-on,
interactive quality. We put them in the hallway and kids from all different classrooms were walking by, scanning them, listening to these book reviews. It was so much more fun than just a traditional poster. My class recently had
the privilege of participating in a QR code lesson led by a teacher across the country. If the video chat weren’t exciting enough, the fact that she incorporated
QR codes into the lesson, my students, from their seat, from the comfort of their classroom, could actually scan the codes
on the computer screen, interacting with her QR codes
from 3,000 miles away, was incredibly exciting
and memorable for my students. They did not stop talking
about the lesson for weeks. You just don’t get that kind of memorable, engaging experience using a worksheet or reading from a textbook. QR codes have a possible use in every grade level, with every subject area. Kindergarten teachers
can have their students scan a QR code that leads
to a phonics lesson. The music teacher can
create audio QR codes of their students playing
instruments or singing. PE teachera can post
real-time race results or athletic event results, all attached to a QR code. The student council
or the PTO can advertise upcoming school events
all around the school and send home on flyers via QR code. The possibilities with this
free and easy tool are endless. If used properly, QR
codes have the potential to awaken a student, transform a lesson, and bring down the walls
of your classroom, creating the ultimate 21st
century learning opportunity.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “The magic of QR codes in the classroom – Karen Mensing

  1. The one big thing, other than the fact some kids can't get acres to this tech and the controversy of how old someone should be before they get this tech which is truly a parental decision and should not be further forced upon them to conform to the societal norm of young kids with tech, It is much more rewarding as a student to hear your teachers praise verbally with enthusiasm than to just see it on a screen.

  2. Most People make a big mistake, they use the free tools to generate things without mobile content. QR codes can be fun, but not if you link to your website without mobile content – it's essential!

    you can check ucardo (and ucardo pro), a service for great microsites that let you interact with your mobile device!

  3. "students who didn't have devices with them were begging their parents to pull out their smart phones"
    Doesn't sound like a particularly good thing to me.

  4. this is just silly its not about the tool how you educate i did not enjoy learning until i met a teacher that could make me feel the joy of learning since that year i'm one of the more engage students in the classroom

  5. I dont think the point of the lesson was to just focus on the QR code idea, I think what she was trying to say is that finding innovative ways of teaching can help kids be more interested in learning. The QR codes were just an example of what can be done.

  6. Like someone else said, not everyone has a phone or device that can scan a QR code. Also, this should only be used with highschool students and up. No reason for kinder gardeners to have phones. Same with elementary school kids. Or middle school. High school might even be stretching it.

  7. im not sure i really understand this. to me it seems like just an extra step between seeing the information and being able to read it. instead of being able to just read a poster i need to get out my device and scan it. the only thing i can see is that this might be easier than typing a long URL into your browser.

  8. I think it's probably the worst TED education talk ever. It's very short time solution and using QR codes is really really not smart for learning new things. Learning that way is totally uneffective and develop bad attitude for kids. "Ok kids know you need mobil device to get any infromation because you are to lazy to read this information normally". GJ Karen, GJ make new generation even more brainless.

  9. Am I the only one around here who thinks QR-codes are stupid? They're at best a transitional technology. Something that is _only_ machine readable has little place in the physical world.

  10. Now, I like QR codes, but this has got to be the most stupid TED talk I have seen. She presented QR codes like they are the final solution in learning. They're not.

    Instead of wasting time, ink, and paper on turning simple sentences into QR codes so that kids would now need an expensive bit of kit to read the things you could have just told them in the first place (e.g. "good job"), try getting better at your job of teaching the kids to read and write properly.

  11. It seems like many people missed the point. Yes , QR codes were used. But it seems that it's more about a new method of interactivity for engaging students, or people in general. QR codes were just the means to that end.

  12. Its meant to either obfuscate data or make it readable so you can copy&paste it instead of typing it in, reducing the risk of errors. QR codes have been used by the industries for quite a time in places like logging real life events in mobile environments into databases. The "mystery" around what is written in them created the current craze. Today, most of the time they are a security issue and real life spam.

  13. Yeah this is cool, but what happens when you start saying. "good morning class now scan this code for your lesson." and eventually the entire country's elementary system is kids getting a code as they walk into class, and following "instructions" until they go home. Human interaction is SO necessary for learning, ESPECIALLY in young kids. QR CODES AREN'T EVEN RELEVANT ANYMORE, THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SAID 6 MONTHS AGO.

  14. I think you can create something like autonomous courses, which could work like "you the hereo of the book" … and make a lesson as if it was a treasure quest! Good idea but not to be exploited all the time!
    Plus, it can also enhance curiosity, if you put QR codes everywhere and they scan it during the day, to have a look at it later on! (when they are home for instance)

  15. Suddenly, instead of cellphones being banned in classrooms, gradeschoolers are required to have a $100 smartphone. I can see this being a problem.

  16. Library have endless usage for QR Code? Well i have at least the double usage for using a Smartphone in the class 😉

  17. In a lot of school districts, kids (especially elementary school kids) are now provided Ipads instead of textbooks so they read the codes with those

  18. Right now, it's going to be interesting for those kids, but once you let those kids get used to be learning that way, they will soon get bored of it. Honestly qr codes in school shouldn't happen.

  19. Tech in the classroom does not simply turn our students into consumers, it motives them and helps them to become engaged learners. The experience of reading the "I have a Dream speech" is not as profound as hearing it given by MLK. Using tech in an interactive lesson about the Civil Rights movement allows students to activate multiple areas in their brain making it more likely that the information in the lesson will be encoded into long term memory.

  20. It'll be fun as long as it's new and exciting. Once they get used to it, it'll be boring just like anything else.

    The trick is to continually think up new and exciting ideas to always stay one step ahead of them.

  21. This is such a terrible idea, K-6 kids getting smartphone devices during school time…. our generation is horrendous

  22. What a great way to take the social/human experience out of our schools even more than it already is. What a disappointing idea.

  23. Okay, maybe it's just me but isn't a little ironic that this information is presented to us *not* through a QR code link to a massively parallel immersive web link but one person on a stage lecturing with slides? Imagine how your reaction would change to this technology if the opening sequence was the presenter asking you to open your digital device and scan the QR code on the screen…Okay, well maybe it wouldn't help.

  24. … Lady should have stayed home. They could have had a QR code in the day's programming guide that has a video of this talk and other information, also it would spare us her useless talk. Don't actually be a teacher, just make your class a scavenger hunt. QR is a tool and if you use something every day it gets boring. Ask a carpenter if he is excited when he uses a table saw after the 1st month, same with a kid after a month of QR.

  25. boy was this useless, while using QR codes is helpful SOMETIMES (not always), its just a tool at the end of the day…one of many tools.

  26. Yay! A bunch of nearsighted kids are coming to drive cars and text in the next few years! Can't wait : )

  27. This is good for now, but at some point people are going to lose enthusiasm for QR codes. I'm not saying we won't use them, just that they will become such a normal part of society that no-one will be excited. Kids won't be excited by simply adding a QR code to their vocab list…

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  29. I don't like the fact that only kids WITH smart phones or e-devices would be allowed to participate.
    She said so herself "Kids without them were BEGGING…" that's not education.

  30. how doo kids have smartphones and im working my ass off and only recently was able to buy one…
    what is this ….
    what about kids who cant bring such tools to school!?
    what if there are QR codes leading to restricted sites and data – and kids scan them

    the idea is good, the demography is chosen wrong.

  31. Thanks for all the feedback on my presentation! I'd like to clarify that QR Codes are merely a tool. It is not all that I use to teach, just something that heightens engagement. I love to see my students excited and eager to learn. When I have used QR Codes in the classroom, I have seen that excitement and engagement and it has transformed my lesson in a positive manner. Obviously, I still think the role of the teacher is extremely important! 🙂

  32. A lot of people are cynical about this talk, but technology really can have a major impact on education and learning experience. I know it's not always possible to access every resources, but teachers should always think of how to integrate into the class.the resources they can access.

  33. Using QR Codes adds an element of fun, of exploration and hence makes it more memorable.
    In comparison: I had two geography teachers: One told us that there is a city called Paris which is the capital of france and that we need to know that name for the test… boooring
    The other grouped us into teams, handed each team an atlas and then wrote PARIS on the board. The group which found the city AND could tell him in which country / contient it was won points. GREAT! learned a lot this way!
    QR->fun

  34. i dont like how people frown upon using new technology like this in the classroom. people say how terrible it is that kids are brought up in a touchscreen world but the reality is it is a better, easier technology. what's wrong with that? Use what's new and better.

  35. Nice idea, I'll use it.

    Of course not everyone has the opportunity to use this yet, but sooner or later this technology will reach over 95% of the world. New technology and new ideas will always create curiosity and using curiosity to teach is a smart and easy thing to do.

  36. "Sooner or later this technology will reach over 95%"

    I didn't say tomorrow and do you really want to say what will happen in the next 10 years? What did the world look like 10 years ago? Maybe think a few seconds before you spread your sarcasm over the internet. Being anonymous isn't an excuse for losing your temper.

  37. Oh. So you do REALLY believe that 3rd world countries will eventually reach our level of progress? I admire your faith.

  38. this is a really cool idea – i can imagine kids would love this … but we can't forgot that sitting still and even being a bit "bored" is important too.

  39. That's quite the dividing, isolating and shaming pool of activities if inducted to a Public school. A poster takes less than one dollar to produce but a Smartphone of Game Device capable of scanning QR code costs hundreds of dollars, a hundred at the VERY least, creating trouble for every family struggling with affording indulgent luxuries greater than dessert snacks added to the grocery lists. Not being able to participate in classroom fun can be crippling to a small child.

  40. hey, I am from Peru and we have smart bords in our class room y about 1/3 of the class has a smartphone
    Sure many schools in my country are not as lucky as mine, but don't underestimate a 3rd world country like Peru. 15 years ago my country was practicaly in civil war and now we have a growth rate of about 9-8% per year

  41. I get very sick of all the naysayers who point to the expense and elitism using new technology entails rather than allowing themselves to be inspired by creative teaching approaches using new technologies. I met a 30 something unemployed man today who was blown away by my iPad apps looking at 3D interactive Skeleton and my personal genealogy project on Ancestry. He said he was going to enrol in a computer course today. Yay!

  42. My 8 year old is smart phone savvy and uses QR codes on his ipod and emails information to family and friends and belongs to several blogs and enjoys creating worlds in Minecraft. The tech just keeps getting better,cheaper and easier to access for even the poor.I still go fishing, rock climbing and tramping (all free activities!) with my son but we read books on Kindle and embrace the new technology.The new technologies encourage and teach problem solving,thinking skills,are motivating and work.

  43. There's positive and negative to this. Qr codes are a great way to enhance learning and are a creative approach but what about those who don't have the technology. All you're doing is isolating them. Also since when did kindergarten students get iPods and iPads? What happened to being content with blocks and crafts?

  44. It is a nice idea. I'd like to use QR codes for classes, but doesn't each QR code represent a web-address/ website-page? Where do you place all this web content? Do you need a website, or are there (free) ways you can do this?

  45. A fairly nice idea, but what about poorer children who's parents can't afford smartphones for themselves let alone their children. Kind of segregating isn't it?

  46. The "privileged class" argument aside, this only works for so long. It's a gimmick, not a solution. Once everyone starts doing it, it's no longer "cool" and kids will start to lose interest.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a good idea. It's just not the revolution that is going to change education.

  47. A load of unmitigated codswallop. Gimmicky, nothing at all to do with learning, and, excuse me, did she say that a teacher should say "go scan number 5" as a means of feedback to a student? Gimme a break

  48. A code telling you "well done"? I imagine that would be so much better than some boring teacher having some actual social interaction with you and telling you personally that you did a great job. Maybe we should also place some robot behint each student to pat his back if he answers correctly.

  49. I would like to have more information about a kindergarten class using Qr codes. I have Dual Language learners for a Spanish class and I want to try this strategy to motivate them to learn Spanish. If I want to make their work by Qr codes should I do it one by one?

  50. What a great video! Thank you for putting this together. I will be trying these out in my class room as soon as next week!

  51. Thanks for opening my eyes to this new technology!!!  The possibilities of learning with QR codes is endless!!!  I'm so EXCITED to introduce my students to QR codes this upcoming school year!!!

  52. Well,I just hope the kids won't just always depend on their smartphone or tablets just to enjoy learning.There must be another way to teach the kids without making them bored if they have no tablets or smartphones

  53. oh my gosh my thesis is all about qr codes egg hunting game and the woman who was giving a speech and my genius mind was thinking of the same thing.

    I'm gonna use this as reference for our thesis. 🙂 hope it gets approved.k

    😇😇😇

  54. Dear Karen,Very interesting…thanks.  One thing, however, the feedback like "good job" from a computer seems even less impactful than from a teacher. When we give specific feedback, we need to express WHAT THE STUDENT is doing or needs to get in order for it to have any educational impact.

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