QR Code Treasure Hunts
I have just recently attended the EdTech Conference at Myrtle Beach and I was informed about a lot of great educational technologies. One of the most exciting things that I saw were QR codes, which I can only explain as a strange two dimensional bar graph that could have been one of the sides from that evil cube in Hellraiser. You can print these strange images and hang them all around the school as if you were giving the students a web quest or a treasure hunt to explore your content.
What I find so interesting about these codes is how a person can go up to this printed image, take a picture of it with their Smart Phone and becoming instantly transported to their next destination. Now, some of the more current cell phones will have the built in QR reader, or you can find out additional info on this I-nigma Reader website to find out if your phone has one, and if not – how you can get this app on your phone whether through getting a text sent to you or you can get it at the Itunes app store here. If the students have the app, it will read the code within the image and either hyperlink to a website, call someone or send a text.
In order to create a QR code, you will also have to rely on another recent internet fad – URL shortener. Andy Brudtkuhl has a site that lists several shorteners found here but go check out Google’s latest educational tool, Goo.gl/ here, because I feel that more and more teachers need to take advantage of Google’s web 2.0 tools and sites such as You Tube, Google Docs, Picasa, Sketchup, Blogger, Google Sites and Google Earth – just to name a few.
So let us go through creating a QR code together. STEP ONE: Go to a website that you will want your students to perform some research on. My students are preparing to do a unit on 1960’s Pop Art, so I want to share this great website on Peter Blake, who designed the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album cover. Within the address bar of this site, I will need to copy the URL code for a future step. The URL code for the website address can be located in the top center of your internet browser window. Mine comes out something like this:
STEP TWO: Now that I have this address saved, I will need to convert it into a generated QR code. I mentioned before about Goo.gl would be able to generate a QR code for you. So, if I was to use the Google URL shortener, then paste your website’s URL address into this window and then click “Shorten,” which has shortened my original URL down to:
I can then copy this shortened URL and past into my internet browser’s address bar. Then, just prior to hitting enter, type in “.qr” on the end of the URL and then press “Enter.” This will then take me to a website with just the QR code graphic on the page.
STEP TWO (ALTERNATE): Perhaps this is just a bit too much for you? A quicker way to creating your code is by visiting a site to generate codes, such as QR-Code Generator. Once you are at this site, make sure that the URL selection has a dot in it, underneath the “Content Type” bar. Just underneath that, there is a “Content” box, where you can now paste the URL code from your site, into the URL window on the QR-Code Generator. Then, hit “Generate.”
STEP THREE: On the left side of the screen, you will now have an image of the QR Code. I now have the option to right click on this image and save it to be included into one of my blogs, websites or presentations. Or, just underneath the image, there is a permalink to this QR Code, so that I can copy this string of code into my website and embed it as an image. Here is an example of that QR’s permalink:
Next, thing I want to do is paste that link within my Blog or Teacher website. I would also heavily recommend that you click on the link just to make sure that it will go to that actual QR image. I have also tried to right click on the QR code within the Code Generator window, and I saved it as a .PNG image.
I guess if I was feeling really gutsy, I would like to explore more with this file type and perhaps modify it with Gimp, as I am seeing more and more “designer” QR codes, such as this one done by HBO as a promotional tool for their hit adult vampire series, True Blood.
STEP FOUR: Once you have the image posted, the sky is the limit based on the engagement of your students. I would print off a plethora of these QR codes all around my school as a treasure hunt. Each message could send them on a different clue, whether sending them to a website to do research, or perhaps they will receive a text on what the next destination in their map may be. You may also want to tell your students to be on the lookout for more and more advertisements featuring these QR codes, as they will be hiding some special information from you that you will need your Smart Phone to access.
Finally, this is Bo Gorcesky signing off, and passing along info to you teachers on how you can use cell phones in your classroom.
Please contact Dr. Tom Smyth at USC in Aiken, who did an excellent presentation on this material and that I wanted to share with you