Giant QR Codes in the Classroom

Since about Christmas time the children in my class have been using printed QR codes and the webcams on our class netbooks to access websites. Now for those of you who didn’t understand a word of that last sentence, here is a quick 5 point guide:

  • QR stands for Quick Response
  • They are simple 2D code from the family of bar codes
  • Different information can be encoded using tools such as
  • The more information there is, the larger and more complex the code will be
  • A camera and code reading software is needed to read the codes and display the results – can be used with mobile phones or computers with webcams.

We have seen a fantastic response from the children in how we use them – it is something that can be easily implemented so long as they have regular access and use. In our class it is just part and parcel of what we do. Even our Foundation 2 children are using them to improve independent internet use.

  1. I print the codes off
  2. The children open QuickMark (our code reading software for PC)
  3. Hold the printed code in front of the webcam
  4. The code is read and displays a web address
  5. Double click and they are on their way

However sometimes I want to share something with the children on the fly and not have the time to print things off – I might recognise they need some more practice with something during a maths session and direct them to a web based activity in the plenary. Or I might find a site via Twitter and want to share it with the children.

So why the giant codes?

Well today I tested to see if an enlarged code displayed on an IWB or via a projector would easily work and of course it did! The children turned their netbook webcams towards it and it read it perfectly. For some of the children they needed to move due to the angle they were sitting, but for others they simply turned the netbook on the table and turned it back!

Getting to a website has never been so much fun.

Of course the reason I use them is that it allows children to get to the web resource much quicker and so increases the time spent doing the activity. Earlier this week I wrote a web address on the board for the children to type in and once again the old problems emerged – spelled incorrectly, spaces and other problems.

There is no question I will be using the GIANT QR code method from now on – the days of writing a web address on the board are well and truly over!

Pic: QR by william couch

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License


  1. I am about to start using them in our school library. Children will be able to scan QR codes to go to an authors website.

  2. I
    love seeing technology like this have a positive impact in the classroom. I’ve
    seen these in educational posters, but actually projecting it up on the
    wall quickly so your students can quickly access the information is just
    awesome. As more classrooms move towards iPads, I think we will see this more
    and more often.

  3. I love mini laptop and I like to share laptop reviews with
    people around the world. Here is some information about laptop computers. Thanks for  spending little time writing about Giant QR Codes. 😉

  4. Craig – I didn’t see this as viable until I started working with a QR Code Manager like or Bee Tag. I use a set of URLs that change every two to three days. Printing out large versions of these didn’t seem very practical given the large number of links we use in a month. With a manager, I can actually print out one large QR code and edit the destination whenever necessary. The code itself becomes recyclable. Often I’ll have my code pointing to a livebinder site that houses all of the sites we’re using that day. I like because it places a shortened URL underneath the code for anyone lacking a cam on their laptops. It’s a real time saver and it gets us to the resources faster. My students and I are using this model in our yearbook this year to show events that occurred after our publishing deadline (prom, awards dinner, graduation) If you activate the QR code today it will take you to a YouTube video of Barney singing “I love you” three weeks from now (after the prom) it will show you the multi-media piece my kids have created for their prom. That’s way cool!

  5. Jabiz-that sounds like a terrific SketchUp project for my commercial art students. Perhaps having them tell me who they are via a QR Code maze. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  6. I’m crazy for QR codes & have blogged about other uses in the classroom & library! Just search my blog for QR codes & you’ll find several posts. I also created a QR Codes At-A-Glance Comic Tutorial that is Creative Commons share alike so anyone who wishes may feel free to snag it!
    ~Gwyneth Jones
    The Daring Librarian

  7. Hey Tom! Just had a crazy idea. What if you created an entire maze of giant QR codes. Each wall would send kids to different sites, looking for certain things? Like a virtual scavenger hunt in a physical maze.

  8. Hey Tom. As we talked about on Twitter last night, I can completely see your point and where you’re coming from wrt kids at the age your dealing with. And it engages them on a more interactive level no doubt.

    Didn’t mean for my comment to so critical of your work, you understand. Horses for courses and all that. I guess I overlook the use of technology (in this way at least) in primary schools as, unfortunately, my own kids had no such activities at their school….for them their use of ICT begins and ends in the “ICT Suite” with the old tower PCs.

    My head is in the older user – mobile space. And on that note….LOVE the massive outdoor code 😉

  9. Here’s a story about putting a QR code at the end of an ESL lesson plan (downloadable demo):

    The key here seems to be that the use of QR may not be necessary, but, if it adds to the “fun factor,” that’s a really positive way to increase engagement. Let’s face it, kids are the best gadget/tech adopters out there…we may not “get it,” but they do…

    So, reach them on their own terms and then teach them on yours. If QR helps. Use it.

  10. I really like the idea and how you’ve chosen to use QR codes with webcams – I think using any kit to access a particular technology is really important because it makes the children more flexible. It’s important for children to see that even without the availability of a particular technology (like a smartphone), they can still solve the problem using other solutions.

    Who knows, in the future there may be QR reader implants you could get for your eyes – that might speed things up – oop I feel a Philip K Dick novel coming on.

  11. I completely agree. I teach Kindergarten and if we are working on a project on a website that the children must find themselves, I spend half of our time just getting the kids to the website. They make errors in spelling, spacing and punctuation. My goal isn’t to have them know how to spell, for example,, my goal is that they are using the technology to produce meaningful work. I use diigo and live binders myself, but it wouldn’t help my 5 and 6 year olds in the way I need it to. Great post!!

  12. I am surprised that you are dismissing this idea so quickly Craig. We seem to be assuming that every pupil finds it easy to scan a webpage full of text and find the right link that you are directing them to. Like I have said before my own experience tells me this is a successful strategy and I would strongly recommend you explore it in more depth for your elementary and kindergarten age children.

  13. I agree that this is not a good use of QR Codes, especially since there are easy ways to get clickable links to students – we do this with Livebinders (, Diigo (, and Portaportal (

    But there are many good uses for QR Codes in education, especially as hand held devices with cameras and web access are becoming more prevalent.
    I have many QR Code resources bookmarked in Diigo –

    I prefer to create QR Codes with QR Code Generator

    With QR Code Generator not only are you able to create QR Codes for URLs, but also for text, RSS Feed, SMS to phone number, phone number, e-mail address, contact information, and Google Places / Map.

  14. I have done that Mark. And I have had to intervene on 4 or 5 different
    occasions to correct misspelled urls. A shortened address is also trickier
    because of capitalisation.

    Many children find it difficult to copy from a board

    I can only go on my experience of how 25 kids successfully work with the
    codes on my class.

  15. AAh I’m beginning to get qr codes now! My school doesn’t have webcams yet, but they are on the list and I can certainly see myself trying this out once we do. Certainly easier than putting links onto our vle!
    And the giant codes sounds even better!

  16. Ian makes pretty much the point I have. I applaud you for looking to implement QR codes but in all honesty they’re really a mobile tool.

    Having to turn a netbook/laptop around to point the built in webcam at the code (having to even adjust position) to then display a link…well, sorry but that’s not actually making things easier through the technology, it’s forcing its use for the sake of it.

    If the resources are location specific or simply out on the walls, in the corridors, outside, etc. and are targeted at mobile use…great.

    If you’re in a classroom just display a shortened URL as that’s all the QR code is really for – to save having to type out a long URL.

  17. We have a set of 15 Samsung NB30s in our Year 5, Year 5/6 and Year 6
    classes. So not for each child but plenty to get going with. This is funded
    through the normal school budget. The use I refer to is children working in

  18. This, indeed, must be very convenient, and it certainly opens up an entire world of possibilities for the classroom environment.

    I guess I’m used to a chinese classroom environment (where I taught the last 3 years), but I must say I’m surprised that all of these students have netbooks. Is it school policy? Are the netbooks subsidized at all? I’ve heard of such standards before but really only at private schools, so I’m interested to hear more.

    Cheers, Brad

  19. I have been asked that before but they actually do not need to type
    anything, not the address of a blog or login to a VLE. They do not need to
    scan through different links in a blog roll or placed in a website. They
    open, scan and double click – and for many children that circumvents actions
    they may find troublesome.

  20. great idea, but playing devil’s advocate…is it REALLY quicker to make a QR code, display it, and then get all children to scan it rather than just click a link on the desktop/VLE/website?
    I haven’t used QR codes yet, but I am planning on some geurilla marketing in our vollage. We’ve been making websites about our local area and will be putting big QR codes around town to share the sites. Can’t wait to try it.

  21. I use them on website for homework links/documents and on walls outside classroom so passing students can access sites and resources too. I love them as kids really ‘get’ how quick it makes things for them.

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