Stop wasting time with QR codes

For some unknown reason, over the last few weeks I have seen a bombardment of blogs, tweets and posts about using QR codes in education. As someone who likes to pretend they know a little bit about using technology in education, it causes me great angst.

First, lets explore the definition of QR, that being “Quick Response”. This essentially means that you can quickly retrieve data, using a device with a camera and reader software. The original application for this was in the automobile industry and has quickly changed into being used for package tracking and entertainment, the QR code is perfect for this use. However, for some reason Teachers are now attempting to use it in the classroom. But why?

While I am not a fully qualified teacher yet, is the school environment that fast paced and constantly changing that we have to resort to barcodes to share information? Even worse, pretend it helps with quality teaching?

Here are some of the more popular suggestions I have seen paraded around the internet and why they are stupid.

Giving Students Feedback 

Are we so desperate to appear as if we are using technology properly that would we would rather type feedback into a QR code generator, print it (on sticky paper), attach it to an assignment / piece of work and then force them to scan it using a mobile phone?

I know there is argument about the negative effects of writing feedback in red pen but seriously?

Linking to Websites

While the web landscape is evolving, not every site is mobile compatible, not to mention not always the most usable way to enter information if a login is required. Additionally if the site contains large amounts of text, how / why would a student want to read it all on a mobile phone? Research done in 2008 – says the average web users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/percent-text-read.html And that’s using a normal desktop computer, I can’t imagine the stats for mobile phone usage would be any better.

There are a heap of “Fun” activities you can use QR codes for, like a puzzle, find the treasure etc, but let’s not pretend that scanning a barcode with a camera will give our students high quality knowledge. That is unless we are trying to train our students for a career at a Coles or Woolworths

In the future when more tablet-based devices are distributed more evenly in a school, QR codes could pose some benefit, but for now, you are just wasting time.

If you do not agree, or have actually found some sort of benefit using QR codes feel free to tell me to pull my head in, or turn this into a teaching experience and tell me how it worked for you.

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