Wednesday, February 16, 2011

QR Codes in the Special Education classroom

If you are paying attention you'll start to notice these symbols appearing in a lot of places.  They are called QR Codes and have been around for a few years.  OK, so now you know what it is, what does it do?  If you happen to have a smartphone (iPhone, Android or Blackberry) and the right app (try i-nigma for iPhone or Quickmarks for Android) you can "read" this image, straight from your computer screen (go ahead try it, I'll wait)....

For those of you without's a link to my page.  So what...why take a picture with a smartphone, what's the point?  Well, my point is that there is more to this little symbol than it seems.  Imagine being able to read this symbol using a webcam, most laptops have them these days, now imagine your class full of students going to the correct webpage without you having to help them!  Here's a screencast of what I'm talking about.  By making simple QR Code sheet, you can hold it up to the webcam and voila, instant website!

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Ok, so how do you do it?  It's actually quite simple.  First find the site you want a code for, copy the site, then head to, paste the site into the box and click shorten.  You'll see a list of the links you've shortened, click on details next to one.  On that page you'll see the your QR code in the top right corner, right click and select "save image as..."  Print it out and you're ready to use it or better yet, sync that picture to your iOS device and hold that image up to the webcam (it works really well)!

So the next think you need is a way to read the QR Codes.  The program I'm using is call QRReader - you can get the directions to download it here - QRReader Installation.  Once it's installed you can read any QR Code, just make sure it's well lit and you hold it straight.  It takes a little practice, but I'm sure most kids will get it pretty quickly!

This is one of those ideas that can be used in many different situations, but I really see it shining as a way for students who can't type to have access to their favorite websites.  Or instead of a teacher putting the link on board and then fixing the link on 5 different computers.  and I'm sure there are many more uses for them.  Good Luck!


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