Changing the Future with QR Codes

QR codes are not just for marketing and personal expression. They are moving into the education field as well. QR codes will be able to change the way we use libraries, museums, and can also change learning in the classroom.

Museums and QR codes

Museums are starting to use QR codes with their exhibits. They have devices to rent if someone does not own a smart phone so they can still enjoy the experience. By placing a QR code in front of an exhibit, visitors can scan the code and learn more about the history of the item or exhibit that they are viewing. I remember touring a castle in Toronto on a family vacation when I was younger, and we had headsets with tapes to listen to that told us historical information as we walked from room to room. Looking back, I would have much rather had QR code systems like they are incorporating into museums now. With QR codes in front of exhibits, people will be able to move through the exhibits at their own pace, as well as discuss information about the exhibits with others they may by touring with; headphones with cassette tapes makes that kind of difficult. I think this is an especially great idea for children, who really need to be interactive with things like museum exhibits. I know sometimes it can be very difficult to hold children's attention with only a picture or an artifact, but if they can interactively engage with a QR code in front of an exhibit, I guarantee they will learn and remember much more.

Libraries and QR codes

Libraries are a popular place for students to congregate to study as well as do research. Since many students have access to mobile devices that are internet compatible, and smart phone usage is expected to expand over the next year, libraries are an excellent place to use this technology. QR codes are very cost effective, since there are so many free generators to use, and they are very easy to create using these generators. 

This PowerPoint presentation talks about the effect QR codes will have on libraries: QR Codes: What Do They Mean for Libraries. Here's another informational link on QR Codes and Academic Libraries.

The Library Success: Best Practices Wiki has a whole page devoted to how QR codes are used in different libraries: . Since this wiki is run by librarians, librarians from different libraries can post about how QR codes are used at their libraries or learn new ways to use QR codes in their own library. One of my favorites was Southwest Iowa Library Service Area's use of QR code stickers in their library.  They placed QR code stickers near certain author's books that contained information on similar authors or similar reads. 

And here's their QR code to the Library Success's homepage: . (Just scan it with your phone and it will take you to the main page of the wiki.)


Since free QR code makers are so easily accessible, anyone can make a QR code and place it anywhere they want. Teachers can place QR codes on their websites, in PowerPoint presentations, or they can print them out for students.  Like any QR code, these can contain a URL to more information on a topic that the students are learning about, contact information of a teacher, a picture related to the unit of study, or map coordinates of an area of study. Since education has changed so rapidly in the past decade or so due to the Internet and popular usage of mobile devices, it has become more important for students to learn through interaction. Search engines and the spread of Wi-Fi have made it so that memorization is no longer necessary in education. Any answer can be looked up in a second, so teachers must change the pedagogy of education so that students experience learning in a new way. QR codes are an intelligent way to introduce a new type of interactive learning, and honestly, what kid does not want to be able to use a cell phone in class?

Near Field Communication

Although QR codes seem to be taking over everywhere, there is actually another technology that will probably overtake it shortly. Near field communication involves data transfer like QR codes, but instead of having to actually scan a barcode, all anyone would need to do is to just bring their phone in close proximity to the encrypted data, and the information will be read by the phone. NFC also allows for data exchange between two devices in close proximity, so phones could essentially carry credit card or debit card information and could be used to make payments in a store by bringing the phone close to a scanner. Many phones are actually now being made with NFC chips, which makes me think that this technology will start exploding in popularity very soon, much like QR codes have.

Check out this blog posting on NFC and six ways it could change our daily lives. Whether or not NFC overtakes QR codes in the future, this quick data exchange technology will be able to be incorporated into many different aspects of people's lives.

What is a QR Code?

QR (quick response) codes were invented to be scanned and decoded very quickly. I've only first seen them showing up mid-2011, but they've actually been around for much longer.
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How to make a QR Code?

It's so easy to make your own QR code. All you need to do is find a free QR code generator, enter some information, and click create, and your own QR codes will be available in seconds.
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Scanning QR Codes

All you need to scan QR codes is a smart phone (internet capable phone). If you already have one of these phones, simply download an app that can read these codes.
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