Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Using QR Codes to Minimize Stress at Back-to-School Time

QR codes are a quick way to distribute links and other information, which is perfect during the busy back-to-school season. (Need a refresher on what QR codes are and how they work? This article reviews the basics.) 

How to use QR codes to minimize stress at the beginning of the school year
  1. Help parents or students quickly enroll in Remind. Link the phone number and enrollment code to a QR code. Participants only have to scan and send the text, and they'll automatically be connected to your Remind class. Learn more about connecting more than just a link to a QR code in this article. Read more about Remind's features by clicking here.
  2. Link to a Google Form to collect information digitally. Create a Google Form that asks for contact information, allergies, tutoring times, or anything else you need at the beginning of school (more information on using Google forms can be found here), and link it to a QR code. (More suggestions for collecting parent information digitally are in this blog post.) 
  3. Share contact information with parents. Connect a QR code to a mobile number or e-mail address so that parents can quickly contact you. 
  4. Share back to school information with parents. Do you typically distribute a paper packet of information in August? Save a tree and impress your class by scanning the papers to PDFs, uploading them to a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive, and attaching the document link to a QR code. 
  5. Lead your audience to a specific iOS or Android app. Need students to download very specific apps that they may have difficulty finding in the iTunes or Google Play store? Attach one app link per QR code, then collect the QR codes into a collage or photo slideshow so that your audience can quickly scan and download all the apps they need in one sitting. 
  6. Create a welcome message. You can attach freely-formatted text or an audio recording to a QR code, so it's like a secret, "welcome back" message for students. Read more about freely-formatted text codes by clicking here. Create an audio QR code by using Vocaroo or
  7. Share your Twitter profile to make connections. You can connect to your overall profile, a specific tweet, or the last tweet from a user. Learn more in this blog post
  8. Sign in for tutoring or club meetings. Create a Google form that just asks the student for their name. Link that form to a QR code. When students come to tutorial or club meetings, they can scan the code, type their name, and submit the Google form. This creates a time-stamped document so you can tell who attended and when they were there. 
  9. Need students to visit a link quickly and can't use AirDrop? Turn the link into a QR code!

Ways to share your QR codes
  1. Display the code(s) on the Promethean. (You may need to turn the classroom lights out for this to work.)
  2. Print the code and post on a wall or on your door. 
  3. Need to print but don't want to use a lot of paper? Insert one code into a photo collage or PowerPoint, print several small copies, and distribute the slips of paper in student backpacks.
  4. Sharing several codes? Insert the photos of the QR codes into a photo slideshow (PhotoPeach and PhotoSnack are free options); the audience can scan as the photos rotate. (You can even include a caption on each photo so the audience can keep track of which codes they've seen and scanned.)
  5. E-mail it. 
  6. Working with newer iPads? AirDrop the QR code(s) into your class's camera roll. 

How to Make a QR Code

There are a ton of options, but here are some common web-based QR code generators:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How to Use a QR Code to Distribute More Than Just a Link

QR codes can be super-useful for quickly sharing links, but did you know you can share more than just websites?

Here are some other things you can put in a QR code:
  • prompt scanner to make a phone call
  • prompt scanner to send a text message
  • prompt scanner to send an e-mail (you can even decide on the subject and body text!)
  • an electronic business card
  • a location on a map
  • an iTunes or Android app
  • a location on FourSquare
  • a YouTube link
  • the last tweet of a particular user on Twitter
  • a tweet from Twitter
  • someone's Twitter profile
  • a WiFi network
  • free-formatted text
My favorite QR code generator is a site called Kerem Erkan, and it's what I'll use for the screenshots in this post. 

Here's how to put more than just a link in a QR code:

1. Go to Kerem Erkan's QR code generator. Scroll down on the page until you see something like this:

2. Click the arrow to reveal a drop down menu with these options:

3. Select whichever option you prefer, fill in the blanks accordingly, and click "generate code" at the bottom of the screen:

4. Right-click on the QR code that pops up to save it to your computer. 

Ideas for use
  1. Phone number: create a code with your desk phone number (or Google Voice or Convoi number) so that parents can call you quickly without having to dial a number. 
    • Similarly, create a code with a mobile device phone number (use Google Voice or Convoi if you don't want to reveal your real cell phone number) that prompts parents to text you.
  2. E-mail: create a code that connects to your e-mail so parents have one less thing to type. 
  3. Google or Bing map: need to direct parents to a field trip or other off-campus location? Embed the Google or Bing map link in a QR code so parents can easily access it on their phone. 
  4. iTunes or Android app: Ensure students download the correct app by placing the link to it in a QR code.
  5. Twitter: direct students or parents to your Twitter profile or a specific tweet without making them search for it. 
  6. Free Formatted Text: the possibilities are endless! I used to use this feature for creating a scavenger hunt (although now there is a tool that makes it even easier -- QR Treasure Hunt Generator). You could do a scavenger hunt or other challenge-based game to help kids get to know the room, school building, or rules at the beginning of school. You could also create a game over any subject or topic that hides the questions inside a free-formatted text QR code. 


1. My Twitter profile:

2. My favorite ePortfolio app on the iTunes store:

3. Freely-formatted text with a secret message:

4. Send me an e-mail: