Last week I put up a new display in my classroom called “Courageous Women in American History”. With the help of our Copy Center, I printed six 11×17 pictures of women from American history. Pretty standard, right? Well, I decided that rather than simply picturing these amazing women, I would also add a QR code to each piece of paper.
QR codes, or quick response codes, allow you to embed text, URLs, phone numbers or SMS messages into an image like the one above. So now if my students look at these women they can (potentially) get more information by scanning the QR code. My QR codes forward them to a very basic site that I created using our school’s Google Apps suite. I could have even simplified this project and had the QR code forward students to the Wikipedia page for each woman.
To be frank, my expectations for student engagement in this project are pretty low. I’m sure that I will have a few students scan the bar code out of sheer curiosity, but I’m not expecting a huge rush of students eager to learn more about Jane Addams or Sojourner Truth. I am okay with that because, in principle, I like the idea of having a more interactive classroom. Moreover, QR code usage is simple, so the ability to embed interactive content into public displays is easy enough to be worth the effort. If I simply put a text URL on each of the posters, student engagement would be around zero percent. With the QR codes, however, I can at least pique the interest of a small cohort of students.