QR Codes Improve Web Access

In the last week I have finally had the opportunity to use Quick Response (QR) codes in my classroom. I have found them simple, straightforward and very effective in improving access to digital resources.

I have been thinking about ideas to use QR codes in the classroom for a long while and many colleagues have joined me in contributing to a shared “Interesting Ways” resource. It outlines many useful and innovative ways to utilise the QR codes in the classroom and around school.

I have noticed that some people consider them to be exclusive to mobile devices. (The printed code needs to be read by some software that then displays a link, information or similar.) It seems many people think that only mobile devices like the new iPod or smartphones could do it. However we have been using them with desktop software on our class netbooks and the in-built webcam.

Another assumption I have spotted is that we use QR codes that are displayed (static) and we take the device to the code. I have seen it in a different way, producing printed codes which the children use on their own netbook to access websites and other digital resources. Taking the code to the reader.

We use the desktop version of the QuickMark software that is a free dowload. The children load up the software, hold the printed code in front of the camera and away they go. The URL is displayed, a double-click and they are on the site.

Now I did a mini experiment and monitored how many children had trouble loading a website that I gave them as a shortened (bit.ly) url – so not even the full address. We had 4 pairs of children who needed help to enter the url correctly. Using QR codes I have had none.

I know that QR codes can be, have been and will be used for far more innovative and creative ideas – but I know that my class can all get to a website faster and with less intervention using the codes. That is technology increasing independence and solving a real classroom problem.

I print lots of the same codes out and just let the children hold up a whole A4 sheet of them or little row of three of the same code backed onto card. The software reads a bigger area and it seems to increase the likelihood it reads the code – after all you don’t want to have to go and help them use the codes, that would defeat the purpose.

As an extension to a maths activity this week I had a website lined up for some children who had finished their planned activities. In the past I might have made a link on our blog or used Delicious, or perhaps displayed the address or had to show them myself. Instead I had a zip wallet of codes and the children just scanned them and they were away – in fact it seemed to me to not only improve access but speed it up. (Google Chrome helps too)

I am keen to talk to the early years staff to begin to integrate the codes into their environments, such as having a little roll-a-dex of QR codes for Nursery children to choose from – on the back of the codes perhaps a picture or symbol of the website they want to use. I know it would help them to independently choose and structure their own web use and ultimately rely less on staff intervention.

We must not forget about the most simple ways to use these incredible technical developments – put simply: using QR codes improves the ability of my class to quickly and independently access websites.


  1. There’s now no need to install any software to use QR codes with netbooks! I’ve just released version 1.0 of Zapp! http://zapp.grokbox.co.uk – a totally free and web-based QR Code reader widget specifically designed to make browsing the web easier for younger learners or those with disabilities which affect their ability to use a keyboard. I’m keen for people to try it out and let me know what they think either via twitter @grokbox or by commenting on my blog http://blog.grokbox.co.uk (when I get round to posting about it!) You can use the reader either by embedding the button using the code on the Zapp! website on any web page or placing a shortcut on the desktop to http://zapp.grokbox.co.uk/opener.html It’s great if you are using machines which are locked down and makes the process of adoption much quicker and less technical. Please do try it out and let me know what you think of it!


  2. Hello,

    we believe that QR codes will make the connection between offline and online worlds easier. That’s why we created our QR code generator with social features – YouScan.me – http://www.youscan.me. You can add all your info like Facebook profile or fan page, twitter, youtube, etc. and connect with others.


  3. Hi Maggie

    a) yes the printed codes are held in front of the camera.
    b) The image I have used isn’t really meant for reading just to illustrate the codes I have been collecting really.

  4. No doubt they were sort of created for predominantly mobile use – but mobile devices are much less prevalent in primary schools.

  5. I, too, have been thinking about how to use QR codes in the classroom. Sometimes the best ideas escape us because of their simplicity. Your point about codes making access easier and more efficient has inspired me to keep thinking. I’m going to create some codes for kids to use at various points while reading a novel or other text. I’m thinking that the codes can direct kids to blogs or other sites that will provide opposing viewpoints and encourage conversation with a wider audience. Thanks for the spark!

  6. Hi Tom,

    I am being a bit blonde or tired (end of year :-)) but am still trying to get my mind around this qr story…

    Am I right to assume that the qr codes have to be in a printed format and then the kids holds it up in front of their netbook/laptop cameras which will then display information (eg web addresses +….?)

    Now my frustration (or what I dont understand) is what do you do when you visit a site with qrcodes (eg the codes in this post) and want to read them? Do I now first have to print them out and then read them with my webcam? Or is there a way/reader that can scan a webpage for qr codes and display the information?

    I tried to scan the codes on this post with my smartphone qr reader and it just told me no code detected. I am using BEEtagg.


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