Friday, March 25, 2011

QR Codes and The Academy

(click image for clarity)

A while back I read a post titled "QR Codes Everywhere But Higher Ed?" by Mike Richwalsky (@mrichwalsky). I noticed Mr. Richwalsky also wrote a post back in February 2009 titled "QR Codes: Is it Time?" so he's been tracking these codes for a while.

I've had similar thoughts about QR Codes. And, like others, we've been slowly implementing the codes in our university library. Recently our marketing department created a nice promotional card for our new mobile library site, which included a QR Code for easy access (incl in flickr set below). Overall, higher ed has been slow to adopt QR codes, but based on the number of conferences and presentations featuring this simple technology, that may be changing.

I've seen QR codes in our Best Buy and a few other stores, and there is a definite increase in our local newspapers and mailers, but QR codes are still not a mainstream technology in Portland, Oregon USA. I'm not sure why, though I have some theories (another post). And the majority of people I know (other than early adopter librarians and techies) still don't know what they are.

At times I wonder if QR codes will ever mainstream in North America, and lately I've decided that for some purposes, I don't think that it matters.

Institutions of higher education and libraries (public and academic) are places that I believe can benefit from using QR codes even if they never mainstream, at least for now. Simply put, they are a low threshold technology that provide a lot of bang for the buck. In some cases I think we could ask ourselves why we wouldn't use a QR code. I'm not saying let's start blanketing our libraries and campuses with QR codes, but a QR code on a mobile website promotional card, in a university brochure, and various other places just makes sense to me.

I've embedded my most recent presentation on QR codes below. The presentation includes examples of how QR codes are being used in libraries, with publishers, vendors, retailers, and popular culture.
An article titled "7 ways higher education can use QR codes to connect with current and prospective students" has ideas to assist those in higher ed in getting started.

The Arboretum - Next Generation of Learning blog from the University of Oregon has a number of QR code posts worth reading by Robert Hill Long (who recently found and kindly posted my QR code article). Mr. Long has some great ideas for implementing QR codes in higher ed, and I suspect there will be more posts to come.

Below is a YouTube video on QR Codes at the University of Guelph:

I've embedded a new flickr set dedicated to QR codes and the academy which I'll be adding to as I discover more:

And finally, A press release on the journal NEUROSURGERY® titled "Medical Journal Using QR Codes to Link Print and Digital Video" includes a QR code (which is also on the cover of their April 2011, Vol 68, issue 4 publication). When scanned or photographed, that particular QR code takes users to one of the clearest QR Code tutorials I've seen yet. For those who don't yet use QR codes, I'll include the youtube video of the tutorial below:

I'd love to gather more examples of QR codes related to higher education. Please feel free to recommend links to information or images in comments.

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