Monday, December 29, 2014

QR Codes on Worksheets

Within the last year or so, I have been making efforts to include QR codes on my handouts in my classes:
Example of a QR Code:
If you scan this with your phone,
it will tell you that it's an example of a QR code.
For  those of you who don't know, a QR code stands for Quick Response code. You scan it with an app on your phone or tablet, and depending on what's encoded, stuff happens. The example above simply shows some text. Most often, a QR code is linked with a website -- and you see them all over the place from political brochures to labels in the supermarket. My wife has used QR codes to create scavenger hunts for her students that visit at the library. You can even set them up to automatically write a text for you as my step-sister did for me for those days when the girls get a little out of control:
Mom Meter:
Scan the appropriate QR code and mom receives a text like:
"come home soon dad is going to kill us!"
About a year ago I started putting them on the worksheets and notes packets I would give to my students.  It only takes up a little space in one of the corners somewhere.  Usually these are simply connected to a pdf of the document that they can view on their phone or tablet. Most of the time these files have the original blank copy of the document, as well as an answer key. My philosophy on homework is that it is practice -- and I want my students to have good practice -- not blind practice. We talk often throughout the year that they need to know whether they are doing things right, so that they don't practice mistakes and learn bad habits.

Here's how I do it:

Right-clicking files in your dropbox folder
gives you a URL link to download that file
First, I use Dropbox for all my file storage, and one of the features of Dropbox that I use most is the ability to get a sharable link to every document by simply right-clicking. I put these links on my Google Calendar, on my class website, and of course, in the QR Codes. You can create a QR code for free at a bunch of online sites such as QRStuff or QRCodeGenerator. Simply paste the link into the websites and copy the image to place it into a document.

Creating a QR Code in Quicksilver
That was too much work for me though, so I quickly learned that my favorite program Quicksilver had a QR Code generator available. If you have Quicksilver, you can simply paste the link in the first pane and choose the CopyQRCode action in the second pane and viola - you have a paste-able QR code that can be put into any program. After setting it up with it's own trigger, it literally takes me 1 second to create a QR code for a URL that i've copied onto the clipboard. For more tips on setting this up, check back later for another article.

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