I’m not even sure this article warrants a response. I started to satirize it but it was already so far out there, it was hard to think of anything more ridiculous. If you want something useful, read elsewhere. If you like when I say mean things about poorly conceptualized ideas, this is for you.


1. Digital portfolios for students. Imagine if all students were assigned a QR code at the beginning of the school year—or even the start of their educational career? Every year, instead of putting that student’s assignments or projects into a manila file folder that gets sent home (and oftentimes chucked in the trash) the teacher could upload a few examples of papers, projects, tests and quizzes to the QR code. The code could also include links to student videos, blog posts or other multimedia projects. That QR code-portfolio could then be printed on the student’s report card, so that the grade becomes about more than just one single letter.

Imagine if you were talking about digital portfolios but kept pretending the way you got to the portfolio mattered more than the portfolio itself. Imagine if you could print1 a URL on a report card and get the exact same effect only you would not get to use the scanner app on your phone.

2. Connecting with parents. Teachers could create their own individual QR code that includes links to classroom goals, behavior expectations and other pertinent information, and send the code home with students. The teacher could even include sample questions the parent might want to ask their child about the class, thus equipping the parent with the knowledge she needs to have a conversation with their child about what they’re doing in school. On back-to-school night or during open house, teachers could post QR codes throughout the classroom. Once a parent scans the code, they’d be digitally whisked to explanations of the curricula being used or of student work displayed in the classroom. Sure, the teacher could accomplish all of this with print-outs, but scanning with a QR code is definitely more eco-friendly.

Writers could write whole articles where they talk about websites and keep calling them QR codes. The explanation of student work portion would be an actual use of QR codes because it’s putting access to the information in geographical/physical context with other information that needs explanation. I don’t know why that’s hard to understand. I’d argue that the information you add ought to be richer and possibly contain media that you can’t print out rather than making an argument for the environment.

3. Engaging students. Many K-12 schools ban smartphones, but as their potential as a learning tool starts to be better understood, they could end up working well with QR codes. At both the K-12 and college level, the number of textbooks featuring QR codes is sure to grow. And teachers and professors could hand out an assignment or study guide with a QR code printed on it. Once students scan it, they could be taken to additional resources or activities.

What, other than smartphones, would QR codes work with? Although it is priceless to be talking revolution and then have the great idea of putting QR codes in. freaking. textbooks. Or you could go crazy and print it on a worksheet. We are in the future now. No way URLs would have done this in the past. REVOLUTION. Can I get a Che Guevara tshirt with a QR code that links to his wikipedia page?

4. Easing the transition to college. This year the University of Illinois jumped on the QR code bandwagon and started using them to help acclimate incoming freshman. QR codes are scattered throughout the campus, and when a student scans one, they’re taken to campus maps, videos, and other resources. The codes also connected students to the school’s Facebook and Twitter feeds—a smart move since connected students are less likely to drop out.

Maps make sense. I get that, location based information. I’m not sure what video I’d want to see on my phone as I wander campus as a freshman. Maybe something on dining etiquette from the QR code on my napkin. Anyone who believes the drivel put out by schools on their official Twitter and FB feeds gets anyone to stay in school is likely to be a social media consultant.

Since QR codes are so new, it’s hard to imagine all the ways education institutions will be using them in the years to come. But given the possibilities these black-and-white squares of data present, they just might revolutionize the way we learn.

It is so hard to imagine, the author opted not to imagine anything at all. Nor did she bother to research any remotely interesting uses. I anxiously await the next QR article which will no doubt tout the innovation and creativity QR codes are set to unleash.

I know this is a very unkind response but I’m tired of corporate partnerships polluting the internet with garbage like this and confusing people who might actually want to find out how to use QR codes in education. Articles like these are insulting to educators.

1 I’d ask you why you’re printing it but I don’t want to hurt your head.

Comments on this post

  1. Alan Levine said on September 5, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    If love it when you say mean things about poorly conceptualized ideas! And when there are snarky footnotes, please keep them coming.

    QR codes were mildly interesting like 4 years ago, and ITS JUST A FREAKING URL (that takes longer to get after trying to get decent photo and connect then if you typed the mother it in).


  2. Karen said on September 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    THANK YOU! I’ve tried and tried to figure out what all the hype was about….the only time I have found them helpful was at a museum–where I was able to instantly access more information about the exhibit, and quickly bookmark a URL so I had it when I got home…to remind me of the thing that I wanted to learn more about.

  3. Jim Groom said on September 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I was going to read this post but given there is no QR code I figured it was old media try to pose as the future again. Get with the program Woodward!

  4. Graham Wegner said on September 6, 2011 at 7:27 am

    The post you reference reminds me of teachers who believe that there is magic in their actual interactive whiteboard, instead of realising that it is nothing without the magical computer that is attached to it.

    • John said on September 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

      Or a magical teacher like yourself.

      • Tom said on September 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

        Does juggling count as magic? I can also occasionally fool a 3 year old with a French drop.

  5. Tom said on September 6, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I wonder if QR codes would still be seen as revolutionary if they looked like UPC codes.

  6. Frank Fitzpatrick said on September 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I see QR code neck tattoos in the near future.

    • Tom said on September 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      That I could see a use for. I might get one tattooed on the back of my hand in lieu of getting business cards.

      • Jen said on September 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm

        I see a qr code on elearning site in the near future… du du du duuuhhhh

  7. witchyrichy said on September 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I think it would be cool if you could get the QR code shaped like Che’s head.

  8. Don Hazelwood said on September 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Maybe QR codes are not ‘revolutionary’ as you’ve described them. However, thinking of QR codes as a ‘link’ in the physical world to the internet they become much more useful. Typing a URL on your mobile phone is not the easiest thing – scanning a URL w/ your phone and instantly receive ‘…explanations of the curricula being used or of student work displayed in the classroom…’ well, then they become very useful.

    Anything that lowers the barrier to engagement although perhaps not revolutionary, are positive.

    • Tom said on September 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      I agree that using QR codes in physical world contextual circumstances is useful. I’m not arguing that. I don’t think I said they had no use.

      The problem is that hyperbole and stupid uses tend to turn people against useful technology and they also waste the time and energy of students and teachers. Letting people spout off nonsense like that article with no response seems to imply agreement. Look at the comments there. There needs to be a critical voice in this conversation.

  9. Chera G. said on September 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I am newly learning about QR codes and my iphone app is fun to experiment with when I see QR codes. I have not considered the connection between QR codes and the classroom, but I do agree that the ways the author suggests to use QR is not a huge selling point for me. I am now interested in this topic and I too will be waiting for another article related to QR codes and education.

  10. Jamie Billingham said on October 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I got a chuckle out of this 🙂 Yes, they are just a URL and if if you set your QR Code up right it becomes a stable URL that remains constant while the content it links to changes.

    Handy tool for some, not so handy for others. Mine links to my website, phone number, Twitter, and a bunch of other stuff that’s been optimized for mobile (including an AR link) making it easier for users to go directly to what they want in one click.

    Problem is that most of us are used to instant access so having to turn your phone on, find the QR reader, open the reader.. well.. you get the picture. Once NFT evolves a bit more Qr Codes will no doubt lose some usage, not all, but some.

    I’m wondering how apps like Layars and Blippar will be integrated into teaching and learning? That, to me, is the real innovation around the corner.

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