We at Learnnovators have always been excited about Quick Response (QR) Codes. We have been doodling about leveraging the possibilities these quirky square codes offer while developing cost effective and powerful mobile performance support solutions. Today, when we are contemplating on a design for a mobile learning solution for one of our clients to help make their product unpacking and commissioning processes effortless, we set out on a journey to explore and learn more about this wonderful tool. Read on...

Using QR Codes in eLearning and mLearning

THE JOURNEY

We at Learnnovators have always been excited about Quick Response (QR) Codes. We have been doodling about leveraging the possibilities these quirky square codes offer while developing cost effective and powerful mobile performance support solutions.Today, when we are contemplating on a design for a mobile learning solution for one of our clients to help make their product unpacking and commissioning processes effortless, we set out on a journey to explore and learn more about this wonderful tool.Below are the questions we had in mind when we embarked on our journey:

  • What are QR Codes? What are the possibilities these offer to make e-learning and m-learning effective and powerful?
  • What is the process of creating QR Codes? What are the options available?
  • What are some of the interesting stories and use cases where learning designers have already implemented this successfully in their learning programs?
  • What are some of the useful resources available on this subject?

THE GREAT FINDS

Here’s a quick look at the basics of QR Codes:

  • QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes used to store or link to information in a digital medium. The QR code was invented in 1984 by the Denso Wave Corporation, a subsidiary of Toyota, to keep track of vehicle parts during manufacturing.
  • QR Codes are capable of storing a much higher amount of data (such as text, URLs, videos, etc.) than traditional barcodes. They have a smaller size, have error correction capability, and most importantly are readable from any direction.
  • This concept has been playing a significant role in reshaping our perceptions of how objects in our physical world can be linked to related information in the digital world. QR Codes serve as one of the most effective and intuitive ways to input our request to our mobile devices.
  • QR Codes are helpful to push information to learners in an interesting way by making them part of the (pulling) process. You can make your users scan the code using their smartphones and then direct them to a specific piece of information.
  • QR Codes can be read using any of the free QR Code Readers available in the market. Similarly, they can be created using any of the QR Code Generators freely available.
  • QR Codes have evolved from the original simple and plain black & white format to colorful and custom styles where you can embed your own logo and branding.
  • The technology behind QR Codes is available as open source. This makes this technology a favorable and the most viable option compared to other proprietary tools.

Below are some of the interesting resources (from a big list we examined in this exploratory journey) on this subject that we would like to share with you.

Use Cases

We’ll start with a few interesting use cases of QR Codes that we are able to think of in the context of e-learning and m-learning (with a few thoughts for Instructor-Led Training as well):

  • Add QR Codes to the business cards and workstations of the employees in your organization. Use this in new employee orientation programs to help the new employee understand the job details of the other employees.
  • Place QR Codes on e-learning course screens for scanning and downloading additional supplementary learning or references materials such as the glossary, Job Aid, References, etc.
  • Place QR Codes on e-learning course screens for viewing additional information (such as history, timeline, podcasts, webinars, detailed instructions) with rich media (that help enhance the information) for those who are interested. These,embedded in printed learning materials such as Student Guides and Job Aids,can serve as powerful tools for delivering additional information (with multi-media support) in the context of Instructor-Led Learning (ILT) sessions without computers.
  • Put QR codes in training venues to inform the detailed agenda and to collect feedback. These could also be used to allow participants to find their ways to the training location in a big campus.
  • Put QR codes on machine packagings and components to show videos andQuick Reference Guides that describe how to unpack and commission the machines for the end clients (This is what we are working on right now for one of our clients, and will share our experiences with you on this in one of our future posts!).
  • Use QR Codes (tagged to physical materials in the workplace) as part of your Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Internal App Store strategies to help employees download and use apps available for their performance support.

Infographic

  • Demystifying the QR Code
    This infographic (by Vefla Design Studio) is an excellent resource that helps demystify the complexity of QR Codes.

Articles

  • QR Codes in the Classroom
    This valuable article (from Kathy Schrock) discusses the numerous uses of QR Codes in the classroom with links to tools and many ideas for their use!
  • How to Use QR Codes for Training and Learning
    This post by Dan Steer gives Dr. Kella Price’s views on the added-value of QR codes in learning, along with some useful resources and best practices.

Listly

  • QR Codes in the Classroom
    This brilliantly curated list from Marianna Talei includes 44 QR Code tools and resources helpful for anybody who wants to have a detailed understanding of the implementation aspects of QR Codesfor teaching &learning.

Presentation

Videos

  • What’s a QR Code?
    Here’s a cute little animated video (from ConnectMe QR) that takes a quick look at what a QR Code is in an easy to understand language.
  • How To Create QR Codes
    In this video, Derral Eves takes a look at the different types of things that you can do to create wonderful QR codes. He also explains how to create and leverage these (QR) Codes.
  • Use QR Codes to Bring Training Anywhere
    A video (by ThinkeLearning) that contains step-by-step instructions on some of the interesting methods to use QR Codes to bring training anywhere.
  • QR Code Use Examples & Case Studies
    In this webcast, David Erickson (of the e-Strategy Blog) discusses how to use QR codes as a marketing tool with a few interesting examples of the good, bad and the ugly ways QR codes have been used. Also included are a few QR code case studies.
  • Tesco QR Code Subway Store
    This interesting video explains how Tesco in Korea created a virtual store (QR Code enabled Super Market) for smart phone users to help them do shopping (by scanning and add items to their shopping lists for purchase using their phone's QR code reader) while waiting for the training a subway.
  • QR Code in an e-Learning Course
    This brief video (by Jeffery Goldman) demonstrates a creative usage of QR Code in an e-learning course for enabling learners to get additional information about the subject from outside the course.
  • Graham Clark talking about QR codes and Learning
    An old but still relevant video where Graham Clark talks about some of the interesting possibilities of using QR Codes in a learning context.
  • The Magic of QR Codes in the Classroom
    This inspiring video from TEDActive 2013 demonstrates how Karen Mensing, a teacher from the United States,is using QR Codes in her classroom to make her teaching memorable,and also includes some tricks that she uses to achieve her goal.

QR Code-Based Tools

  • Ekaay
    This tool, developed by the University of Tübingen, Germany, provides authentication by using a QR-Code. It enables you to login to websites and services with your smart phones without typing a password.
  • Tag my Doc
    This is a tool that automatically adds a QR code to your documents to help you ensure that you are always working with the most up-to-date version of the document.
  • Bleam
    This is a fast reading 3-dimensional QR code that is more accurate and fully customizable.This patented technology is highly superior to traditional QR Codes and even offers support for integrating Augmented Reality (AR) features.
  • QRpedia
    This is an interesting mobile web-based system that helps to deliver Wikipedia articles to users using QR codes in their preferred language.
  • QR Voice
    This is another interesting tool that encodes a given text message (up to 100 characters, in a language of your choice) into QR code. This code, when scanned by a smartphone, reproduces the message with a synthesized voice. Check some of the cool applications of this tool on their website.

OUR LEARNINGS

As we came to end of our search, we had the following learnings as ‘take-aways’ from our little journey:

  • Though QR Codes have been around for a while, it is yet to find creative ways of usage in corporate learning.
  • QR Codes have immense potential to work for just-in-time learning situations by serving the role of an effective tool for accessing information on-the-spot. Integrating QR Codes into your learning programs can help ensure learner engagement and motivation.
  • In spite of new and emerging trends such as Augmented Reality, Near Field Communication (NFC), and BlueTooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons, we foresee a bright future for QR Codes. These will remain as viable options since they are free to use, unlike the other options that, though more powerful, require expensive development. However, these need to adapt and evolve to leverage the more powerful features and mobile technologies available today.
  • We foresee more creative uses of QR Codes in learning programs (e-learning and m-learning). The possibilities are limited to our imaginations only. More authoring programs will include support for this feature (it is already available in Lectora).

What are your thoughts and experiences on using QR Codes in e-learning and m-learning programs? What resources would you like to share on this subject?