Note: Your parents will enjoy working with you on QR Codes. Make sure you have your parents' permission before downloading any of the apps or other software.
What's a QR Code?
It's like a barcode that you see on all types of products (cereal boxes, candy bars, just about everything in a package) except QR codes look like a black and white squares with smaller squares inside them. You've probably seen them on ads or maybe even some movie posters. QR stands for Quick Response, meaning you can learn something from a QR code instantly. Here's what one looks like:
So What Can You Do With QR Codes?
The code above says, "Can you read me?" but it could have contained a way to get to a Web site or any text you want to use. Each square can contain about 7000 numbers or 4000 characters (letters, numbers, and symbols) of information.
To read QR code, all you have to do is (1) load a free QR reader app to a smart phone or iPod Touch, or QR reader software to your desktop computer; (2) make sure your reader can "see" the code by taking a photo of it; (3) and ask your reader to decipher it. Instantly a URL or text will pop up for you to use.
Think of how handy these codes could be, for instance, if they were in your textbooks. All you'd have to do is to take a picture of the code and the code reader could give you a URL for a specific video showing you how to solve a math problem or text information to help you with what you are studying.
Reading and Generating Codes
To read QR codes on desktop computers, you'll need to make sure the computers have QR Reader and Adobe Air installed. The computers will also need a webcam. Open QR Reader; the webcam will open. Hold a photo of a code up to the camera for the reader to decode it.
To read the codes on an iPod Touch or smart phone, for example, you'll need to install a QR reader (ask your parents to check the sites we've listed below to help select your reader). Once it's installed, open the reader, ask the reader to open your camera (it may just do this automatically) to take a photo of the code (or you can use a photo of a code you already have on your computer), and then tell the reader to decode (it may do this automatically as well).
Generating Your Own
The great thing about these codes is not only that you can get quick information from them but also that you can make some yourself. In fact, you can create your own in a few seconds by going to a site like Kaywa.
So how could you use these to do add to a homework project?
Let's start with something simple - a poster.
Posters are great for illustrating something about a topic you have covered, but they can also be a problem because they are just not all that big.
So next time you do a poster on a person, place or thing, think about adding QR codes - that take up hardly any space - to enhance what you are showing. To make your own codes, go to Kaywa (http://qrcode.kaywa.com/) to generate several QR codes that relate to your topic. You'll see that you can create them in several different sizes, so you'll want to decide what will work best for the poster you have in mind.
Copy the codes to your desktop if you are doing your poster on the computer or print the codes on labels if you are making your poster on poster board. For computer-made posters, place the codes on your poster and add any text and images you want. When using poster board, paste the codes onto your poster (address labels work well) and complete the rest of the poster.
For example, if your topic is "Endangered Gorillas", you might put up a teaser like this on your poster:
How are snails and gorillas related?*
- How about a map with QR codes that shows you exactly what that spot/place/region looks like?
- What about vocabulary flash cards? With QR codes, learning vocabulary would really be fun.
- QR Codes can lead to websites, podcasts, videos, music and more - but sometimes just plain old text will do. When you generate your QR code, you have the option of just creating a text for someone to read immediately on their reader. This does not take them out to the Web. It is just pops up after the reader decodes it. Perhaps that would be useful on a poster, a map where you have little or no room to write, or anywhere where space is a problem.
Help Us Help Others!
Got ideas for using QR codes in homework? Send them to us!
* It seems there is a program in Nigeria to help farmers harvest snails instead of being tempted to slaughter gorillas for bushmeat. If you can't decipher the code you can go to http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=snails-and-endangered-gorillas-perf-2010-04-29 to read the article.
Sites to Check:
A Cartoon Poster Describing QR Code Use
Get a QR Reader (for smart phones and iPod Touch)
At this site you can pick out a reader that works with your mobile digital device.
Using QR Code with a Desktop Computer
Kaywa Code Generator (a way to create your own codes)
Desktop QR Reader (for use on your computer desktop)
Adobe Air (need if you are using desktop computers to decode)