We’ve all seen them and we’ve probably all scanned them with our phones and tablets.  Quick Response Codes or QR Codes for short.  The code is scanned and a weblink is typically accessed. 

They work in a similar way to barcodes on our shopping.  There are sites and apps available that let you make QR codes for free so there is no additional cost to you.  You can pay for more deluxe sites if you want to obviously! 

QR codes been around for decades but how can they help in the classroom and are they a useful tool or merely a teacher gimmick to make a particular lesson more engaging.  In short, yes they are extremely useful and no they are not a gimmick if used carefully and not overused.

This article will reveal 10 ways QR codes can be a game changer for teachers.

1. Extension Activities

‘I’ve finished sir, what do I do now?’  We’ve all been there as teachers, and some of us are better than others at providing for the early finisher in the room.  QR codes can be great for this. 

Create an extension or challenge task attached to a QR code and print a copy to stick onto your classroom wall.  All the pupil needs to do is collect a tablet or device to access the next task.  This also encourages pupils to complete their work more quickly (watch for rushed work) as they want to access the challenge.

2. Marking

Yes, the dreaded ‘M’ word.  This can take hours and do pupils act on the feedback or just ignore it?  A QR code can be stuck into the pupils work with a next step attached to it. 

A little bit of pre-work is required here as some pupils may need different next steps to others but writing ‘Now try this’ and sticking in a QR code saves time and also pushes your pupils further in their learning without the need of a further question written by the teacher. 

3. Outdoor Lessons

Think orienteering and scavenger hunts here.  Admittedly, these take some time in setting up but once this is done, keep the resource year after year.  Kids love it and love racing other teams to complete the course.  Attach photographs of the school site for them to follow by scanning a QR code, or a clue to the next location. 

This also works brilliantly for cross curricular lessons where the pupils need information on a topic.  Pop some QR codes outdoors and watch them run to find the answers to a quiz sheet!

4. Voice Overs

Similar idea to the marking idea but this time attach a sound file.  This could be you explaining a task to a group, a radio broadcast, an interview, a sound effect, anything at all.  You can even combine marking and voice overs if you are feeling really adventurous. 

Verbal feedback attached to a QR code would be so rewarding.  Be warned, this takes a lot of time so this is not a good idea for every lesson you teach!

5. Are You Correct?

Instead of calling out answers or sitting at the end of a lesson to mark, allow the children to mark their own work.  A bit of trust here but very engaging.  Have the answers attached to a QR code (which you give them) and allow them to mark the quiz or set of spellings or whatever the lesson was.  A challenge can be at the end too!

6. Praise to All!

Whatever your stock phrases are or your school language, use them in QR codes.   Has someone helped a member of the class?  Has someone been a sporting star?  Has someone gone above and beyond?  A QR code could be on their desk after lunch or at the start of the next day. 

Imagine the buzz once you’ve done this a couple of times?  Scan the code and a badge or well-done message could appear on their screen.

7. Make them a lesson

Once you are confident in creating QR codes for the class, teach them how to do it too!  Great cross curricular learning here as they can share facts about a topic, share a review of a book or create a question for other class members to complete.  They could even work in teams to make their own scavenger hunt!

8. Displays

A little bit out there but it makes a big impression, and you can get loads of work on display! Photograph a piece of display quality work and attach it to a QR code for display. 

All you would need is the pupil’s name above the code.  A whole class worth of display work without having to reduce the size of the work, worry about not choosing everyone or running out of space.  

9. Homework and online learning

This saves so much time, especially if web links are part of homework or online learning.  Scan the code for the site and complete the tasks that are set.  No-one can ‘forget’ the website name or mistype it in the search bar. 

10. Vote Now!

Need to decide on the next class reader or need to know whose parents are attending the Christmas show?  QR codes keep the voting anonymous and save the potential embarrassment of children whose parents aren’t attending.  Children can scan the code in the vote and its completely private.

Lots of great ideas to try with QR codes.  Experiment with different methods and different online providers to find the ones that work for you.  

Finally, think of QR codes to save paper for your school.  Instead of photocopying and trimming multiple copies of the same information sheet, attach the file to a QR code.  Children then scan this code on their tablet and access the information.  Eight QR codes comfortably fit onto a single sheet on A4 paper.  You can even have one, large QR code on the classroom wall for the children to scan.  

Christina Lee is an education blogger and editor at OX Essays writing service.