Week 3 Mobile Technology: QR Codes

Mobile Technology Week: QR Codes

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Dog Days QR Code for Book Trailers for All

Let’s try QR Codes!

What I hope you will learn after this module:

  • What are QR codes?
  • How to read QR codes
  • How to generate QR codes
  • How you can use QR codes effectively in your library

What is it?

A QR Code is an abbreviation for Quick Response Code.  Think of it as a type of matrix-like two-dimensional bar code with the capability of storing large amounts of information such as text, URLs, images, etc. embedded in it.

QR Readers: In order to “read” the QR code, however, you need a QR Code Reader which you can download onto your mobile device, as well as the ability to take pictures with that device.  The “reader” essentially takes a picture of the QR code and then reads and decodes the information embedded in the code and translates it into usable information content, such as a URL or text.   You simply take a picture of the QR code and then will be taken to the appropriate URL or to whatever other content the code links to.   Here are several different types  of QR readers you can download for free!

  • Scan For iPhone –  Easy to use, with a user-friendly scan history (with a really cool map) and a feature which really caught our attention is their support for scanning reverse image/inverted color QR codes. They also have an Android version and a Windows Mobile version as well.
  • Scanlife is also a solid performer that is well put together by people that clearly understand QR codes at a technical level.  Available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Java and Symbian.
  • QR Code Reader and Scanner for the iPhone or QR Droid for Android

Visual learner?  Check out this handy comic explanation!

QR Code Comic Courtesy of Gwyneth Jones-The Daring Librarian~Creative Commons License

QR Code Generators: So what if you want to create your own QR codes?  In that case, you need to download a QR Code Generator.  You will need to input the appropriate information, and then the Generator will provide you with a QR Code image file you can save on your computer.   There are a couple of free generators such as Kaywa  and i-nigma.  Another option is to use a URL shortener website such as bitly or goo.gl (run by Google).   They will shorten your target URL and then generate a QR code for you.  As a bonus, they also retain some stats for you if you would like to see how many “clicks” your QR code URLs are generating.   The bitly instructions are in the cartoon below.  For goo.gl, you simply create your shortened URL, click details and you will see the page with the statistics and the QR code on the top of the page.  Simply save the QR image then to your desktop.

Things to consider when generating a QR Code:

  • Size (where will you be displaying it and will it be big enough to scan?)
  • Use (how will it be displayed; poster, sign, back of a book, website?)

Check out this handy comic for a great visual explanation!  Feel free to try out the steps and software she suggests as well!

QR Code Comic Courtesy of Gwyneth Jones-The Daring Librarian~Creative Commons License

How can I use it?

QR Codes have lots of uses commercially, but also have many uses in libraries and schools. They are used to link physical objects with online resources.  You can link them to book reviews, talks, trailers, online databases, library catalogs, online resources or assignments, calendar events, and so much more!  You can create a great library scavenger hunt program.  For a great blog post on why QR codes increase student engagement in school libraries, check this out!

Try it out!

  1. Conduct a Google search or app store search for a free scanning app (or feel free to use one of the recommended ones in this blog post). Download the app onto your device.  These readers are available on multiple platforms, including macs, Androids, or Windows.  If you don’t have a mobile device to try it on, you can download an application to your PC or Mac desktop to “read” QR codes with a webcam.
  2. Find a QR code in the real world and scan it with your mobile device.  Report in your weekly blog post what information you found or tweet about it.
  3. Select one of the recommended QR Generators or do a search for your own on your computer.  Create a QR code for an item in the library.  You can choose what kind of information you want to attach to the QR code.    Have one of your learning team-mates “read” your QR code and report on their findings via the group blog or twitter.  If you like, you can embed the QR code in your group blog post so everyone can have easy access to your code.  Make sure you label it with your user name so it is identifiable.  You will do the same for another C2I classmate.


For your group blog reflection this week, reflect on your ideas about implementing QR codes as well as any great ideas you have for using them in your school library.   Please post the QR codes you created on the group blog and make a mention of what types of information you found while “reading” various QR codes.  Time also to test out your new found tweeting skills!   Don’t forget to individually tweet one individual micro-reflection using our #C2Iasij hashtag.  This is a great time to share how each of you felt about this assignment or QR codes in general!

Explore more!

Here some other places to see how QR codes are being used in education…

Want some guidance for some more great mobile apps to add to your repertoire?

  • We Want Apps– an app for iPads or iPhones that searches apps for you based on age, category, language, platform, and price
  • i Education Apps Review– review of education apps for mobile devices by teachers and students!
  • iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom-Silvia Tolisano has created a guide that will assist you in selecting the best apps for use in your library and classroom.







This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Fall of 2012.  This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was adapted by Maria Papanastassiou for American School in Japan. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

11 thoughts on “Week 3 Mobile Technology: QR Codes

  1. Pingback: Welcome to Mobile Technology Week! Exploring QR Codes! | collaborate2innovatethings

    • I’d love to help you out, but I’m not sure exactly what your question is. Is it the whole concept of QR codes in general? They had me scratching my head at first, too! I actually think the first cartoon picture in the blog post does the best job of explaining what QR codes are concisely. If you click on the picture, it will enlarge it so it is more legible. Let me know if that helps clarify things, and if not, I’ll do my best to help sort things out:)


      • Hi Maria, I think my lack of understanding is from trying to work and read at the same time. I have had some “quiet” time now and I understand it much better now. Also, thanks for the reply to my other comment that has helped as well.

    • Great question! A QR code is very similar to a bar code commonly seen on products. However, instead of being created with vertical lines like a bar code, the data in a QR code is stored in a matrix design. A QR code holds a lot more information than a bar code is capable of holding.

      If you want to find out more detailed information about the differences between QR codes and data matrices, this article can help….http://qrworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/qr-codes-versus-data-matrix/. They are very similar because QR codes are formulated as matrices, but we will only be dealing with QR codes this week.

      Let me know if you have any other questions or if I can explain it in another way:)


  2. Does anyone know how public and academic libraries are using QR codes?

    I can see how QR codes can benefit our school library. I would think that the students would enjoy being able to scan and listen to book reviews, trailers and also facts about the book or author. It might even engage the students to want to put their own reviews on books out in the library. Also, it would be helpful for parents.

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