Scan and Learn: Using QR Codes as Part of Your Learning Solution: QR Codes Can Give Learners in the Virtual and Physical Classroom Immediate Access to Learning Materials through Mobile Devices

Article excerpt

Although the training environment has been invaded by an enormous wave of technology during the past five years, fear not my traditionalist colleagues--classroom training is not going away, at least not in our lifetime. However, adaptation to new delivery and knowledge-sharing methods must be accepted and used. The new learners coming to our classrooms (virtual and physical) want information, learning materials, job aids, and even videos of meetings to be available at their fingertips. During the past few months, I have been piloting a program to link these educational resources to Quick Response (QR) Codes.

What it is

According to the ASTD report, Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, mobile learning has become the new challenge for learning professionals. QR Codes are just one of the many ways we can take advantage of this trend. The report provides the following definition.

"QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code). The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds ('modes') of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/ binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data."

Look around. QR Codes are everywhere. You may not know what to do with them at this point, but the new generation of learners is very aware of their functionality. The codes serve as portals to new information, and easily can be created and placed in strategic places to suit your target audience.

Why it works

To access QR Codes, learners will need to possess some sort of electronic device with a scanning function. This functionality is available in most smartphones and tablet devices. Learners also will need to download in their device an app that will allow them to use the lens of the device's camera as a scanner. Once they scan the QR Code, they will be redirected to the webpage, document, video, or material you've created to assist them.


The first experiment used QR Codes to allow access to three different resources: guides and handouts, videos, and job aids. We didn't stop printing our guides and handouts; however, we introduced QR Codes as a second option for those who preferred not to carry that material.

We housed the course guides and handouts in our learning management system (it also can be housed in a server or a free web platform such as Google Analytics), and created a QR Code for each document. We gave the learners a pamphlet that listed these QR Codes, and a booklet with all the codes also is kept in every department or posted on the break room's communication board. That way, learners easily could access the materials through their devices during and after training events. Now participants are able to review their learning materials as needed without carrying books or guides.

The second experiment that was well received involved linking videos to QR Codes. Some of the department meetings are video recorded and broadcast to telecommuters and remotely located team members. Thus, we created a meeting calendar that includes a listing of the meetings held, the group that attended, and a QR Code linking to the video recording. The calendar was placed in strategic places in the departments for easy access. This solution aids team members who miss a meeting and need to review the meeting discussions.

Our third experiment was to create job aids and work instructions and link them to QR Codes. For example, a QR Code placed in the computer lab was linked to a job aid with step-by-step instructions on how to reset a password in one of our systems. …


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