10 July 2011

QR Codes: 4 Resources to Get Started

I've been interested in QR Codes for a little over a year now. They are those square, bar-code looking things you see in advertisements, in storefront windows and on product labels. They seem to have a great deal of potential to add content to the printed page.

At least one U.S. yearbook publisher is aggressively marketing QR codes and storage space for digital content to enhance print yearbooks. I've thought about using QR Codes in both yearbook and newspaper. For the yearbook, we could easily post additional photos to an online storage site such as Flickr or Picasa Web Albums. We could use QR Codes to direct readers to longer stories or profiles. We could even create a scavenger hunt using the codes and have prizes for the winners.

Newspaper would have similar uses, but could also use QR codes for advertising and directing readers to more information about particular topics. Say we did a feature on online privacy, but only had enough room for one page in the print paper, but enough content for two pages. The QR codes could be used to direct readers to the content that couldn't fit in the print version of the paper.

So, you're probably asking "Why QR Codes and not URLs?" Good question. I'm finding that URLs are getting increasingly complicated. It's fine to copy and paste them into emails or post them on Facebook or Twitter, but if you're looking at a print product and have to type in a 30 character URL, you're probably not going to do it. This is probably why manufacturers try to keep product URLs simple (i.e.  http://www.apple.com/ipad/ WILL work because it's simple, but http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20077078-264/how-a-google-gap-keeps-me-on-facebook/ isn't going to work for readers of a print product).

How do you learn more about QR Codes? First, check out the QR Code Livebinder that is just chock-full of resources. Next, look at 40 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom (this is also in the Livebinder above). Third, read through Vicki Davis' suggestions for implementing QR Codes in the Classroom (this is also in the Livebinder). Finally, Cyndi Danner-Kuhn has a great idea for making print books interactive.

I still haven't decided exactly what I am going to do with QR codes this coming school year. I'll start with a scavenger hunt of some type, then see what my students think about ways to implement them.