Using QR codes in the classroom is a very popular tech tool right now. One of the most common ways these codes are being used is to have a QR code scavenger hunt. Armed with a mobile device connected to the Internet, students are sent out around the classroom or school building to search for these squared off codes, as they answer questions on the topic being studied in class. Having been fortunate enough to assist various teachers with this type of activity, I have been able to observe some components that lead to an effective QR code hunt.
1) The QR codes should give students access to unique content
Students find a code, scan it, and are greeted by a sentence of text asking them a simple question. While it may seem novel to use the QR code for this type of thing, the reality is that the technology is not necessary. The question could have been simply written on an index card and would have achieved the same purpose. Instead, take advantage of the QR code linking students to content online. Link to websites or videos for students to research with. Record audio and upload it to Dropbox , then make a QR code that allows students to listen to the audio file. We recently made a Google Spreadsheet on vocabulary for a unit, with the share settings toggled to anyone with the link can edit. When students scanned the code, they were taken to the spreadsheet and were able to submit definitions into the spreadsheet.
2) Set specific areas for students to search
Avoid saying to students, ” search the entire building! ” This will not endear you to your peers. You do not want your students to be distracting other classes. Remember that students will be using mobile devices that have a camera, which means that you will need to monitor them to make sure they do not start using the devices for recording video and photos. Consider how your class handles other activities in your room to help you determine how much of a range you can allow them to hunt.
3) Give students an answer sheet
Even if it is a piece of notebook paper that you ask students to number #1-10, make sure students have something to record their answers and track their progress on. Number your QR codes as well so that students know where to place each answer on their sheet.
4) Try to separate or stagger your students
A lot of times, instead of hunting for a code, students will just look for where their classmates are to find the codes. While this in itself is not a big deal, the problem is when some of your students take it a step further and do not bother with answering the question for themselves. They will simply ask someone else for the answer, without looking at the website you have linked for them. Avoid having a giant pack of students at one spot by separating or staggering your students. Give students different starting points for the hunt, or stagger when students begin the hunt. In a recent class I was in , students could not start the hunt until they orally answered three review questions to the teacher.
5) Plan to make sure students have a device to use
QR codes are popular because of BYOD and other school initiatives which allow smart phones and other handheld devices to be used in the classroom. As the classroom teacher, you must keep in mind that not every student has a device of their own. How will you handle this without singling out these students? At our Middle and High School, we are able to supplement student devices with school iPods. Students can use their own device or may sign out one of our school iPods. If you can not supplement, is it possible to make up groups so that every group has access to a mobile device ( with a camera ) ? If you can not have enough devices available, then the activity will not work.