QR codes

Mobile learning is characterised by the use of wireless mobile devices (tablet PCs, iPads, PDAs and smartphones, etc’) in support of teaching and learning activities.

With smartphones surpassing a 50% market share of all mobile phones in the UK in 2011, and evidence that schools are beginning to invest in tablet PCs / iPads, the potential to use such wireless mobile devices to support teaching and learning is definitely growing.

QR codes present one such possibility…….

What is a QR code?

QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code is a type of matrix barcode originally designed to track vehicles for the automotive industry in Japan. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to traditional barcodes. QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can contain alphanumeric text. They are now used frequently with URLs to link directly websites. To decode the QR code there are many free QR code reader apps that can be downloaded on to smartphone or tablet computer.

Educational institutions across the world are now beginning to see possible applications in support of both teaching and learning.

Click to see QR codes used in a worksheet designed to promote discussion about different approaches to designing


Click to see a a poster displaying ‘Applications of QR codes in HE’


See also “5 Real Ways To Use QR Codes In Education” at the Fractus Learning website


QR Code readers – What’s available ?

There are a growing number of apps that can be downloaded (both free and for a small cost). Googling QR code reader will turn up a huge choice, and there are several apps available in the apps markets for both Android and Apple OS devices.

A good one-stop shop with a comprehensive ‘free’ option is


i-nigma (http://www.i-nigma.com/i-nigmahp.html) is one of the fastest and best – available for free in both Android and Apple apps markets

QREncoder is also a good free app for iPhone / iPad, ….. available from the App Store

QR Droid is also a good free android based app for Android phones and tablet PCs ….. available from Google Play

QuickMark (http://www.quickmark.cn/en/basic/index.asp ) is another good general package.

Potential Applications of QR Codes in Education

Quick Response (QR) codes might be used to enhance the student learning experience by giving them more flexible access to learning resources that are independent of timeframes and geographical constraints. New applications in education are being established at a rapid rate –  potential uses include…..

  • linking websites to create grouped information
  • providing focused learning pathways for embedding into hard copy or Blackboard/VLE
  • linking to instructional videos that can be viewed on mobile devices at the point of use (eg. in a workshop to see how to set up and use specialist equipment)
  • providing additional information about items at an exhibition / museu
  • providing an overview of roles and responsibilities in groups/organisations
  • providing video clips of classes, workshops and studios in action for open days
  • linking to online/audio feedback
  • use of colour QR coding to demarcate learning materials – either in terms of topic or level
  • directing students to appropriate resources on a need to know basis
  • supporting group activities with bespoke information tailored to individual group tasks
  • supporting administration of field trips (maps / schedules etc)

Click on the image below to see how QR codes are being used in the Centre for Design & Technology Education at Sheffield Hallam University


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