e-Learning Case Studies

University of Bath

Using QR Codes during Innovations Week


📥  Uncategorized

  • Name & email: Andy Ramsden (a.ramsden@bath.ac.uk)
  • Keywords (pedadogical):
  • Keywords (technical): QR Codes
  • Discipline: n/a
  • Year / ability: n/a
  • Course title: n/a


What took place?

I recently used QR Codes (http://www.bath.ac.uk/barcodes) to support the University's Innovations Week in Teaching and Learning. The aim was to include QR Codes on the supporting material to enable the mobile (phone) user to more effeciently connect to online material and complete any required tasks.

What was the role of the technology?

The QR Codes were used in a number of different contexts;

Poster displays

QR Codes were used around the poster display area to allow people to scan the code and connect with the supporting blog. In this scenario the person would scan the code, access the blog and either leave a comment for the author or read and comment on other people's views. Alternatively, they could scan a second QR Code to send a submit their comments via SMS. The outcome is a reduction in barroers to leaving comments. For instance, the person was not required to leave the poster display area to find a computer.

Access to online support materials

We provided a large number of different forms of publicity materials, from fliers and posters, to fortune cookies. These included a QR Code which linked to further online support material. The thoughts behind this was to provide just in time information to where the person was located.

Examples of these are available from: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=iw2009


How did the participant find it?

This is very difficult to quantify as there was no log information and it is diffiult to observe. My observations as I walked around and demonstrated QR Codes during the event was the general response was "wow, I didn't know you could do that ! Would it be cool if ..." type response. This I'd suggest this demonstrates people are unaware of the technology. When surveyed after the event, the responses indicated unawareness and non-engagement. For instance, when asked, "did you use the QR Codes on the Innovations Week posters and leaflets?" The responses were yes (2), no (6), didn't know what a QR Code is (4). Unfortunately, the respondents didn't explain why they hadn't used them.

One positive outcome was from the perspective of the people generating the QR Codes. There were around 4 people in the team who used the University of Bath's QR Code Generator (http://www.bath.ac.uk/barcodes ). They had no problems, or support needs in generating and including them within their materials.

Issues / Problems

Given this is such a newly emerging technology within Learning and Teaching, I'd divided the issues as follows;

Raising awareness

There is a clear need to make people more aware of QR Codes within the poster display area. When I talked people through a QR Code I tended to refer to the poster that I had created as part of the event. This meant a causal browser would have to find the Introduction to QR Codes Poster within the posters to undersatnd what they re and how to use them. When a preferable model might be to include this type of information through out the poster display area. I'd suggest tailoring the poster to have more focus on what they need to know, i.e., what are qr codes and how to get readers on their phones. The poster is available from http://opus.bath.ac.uk/13341/

Motivating people to install the software

People need to identify a value (pay back) in spending time installing the software on their phone. Therefore, there is a requirement to encourage all people presenting or creating content to include a QR Code. There also needs to be some more thought into how we might use them for a wider range of uses then simply accessing additional online materials.

Maximising usability

Mostly the QR Codes linked to a web based resources. Clearly, there is an issue about whether the web resource is usable on a small screen device. For instance, can the person read and navigate around the resource on their phone. This was very straight forward when using the WordPress Blog. I arranged with the Web Services at the University of Bath to install the PDA WordPress plug-in. Therefore, you can link to the blog and complete the task on your phone. However, this wasn't the case with the links to some web sites, and support material (slides, and documents).

What tips do you have for others?

Firstly, address the issues and problems raised in the previous section. Secondly, a very practical tip would be to implement an image management process. For instance, we generated a large number of QR Codes on this project and to reduce repetition at creating the same link numerous times we used share drived / shared file repositories. At the University of Bath, the LMF (http://www.bath.ac.uk/lmf ) is perfect for this task.

Plans for the future

Overall, I was very encouraged by this pilot. It highlighted a considerable number of issues surrounding how we might ensure that QR Codes are effectively implemented. I'm already building on this experience as I'll be working with UKOLN on the effective use of QR Codes to support their 2009 Workshop.

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