Wednesday, July 12, 2017

QR Tour: A First Day Experience

In my last post, I challenged my fellow educators--and myself--to consider making the first day an experience for students. Rather than just going over the rules and expectations, to consider how to draw students in, get them engaged from the very first day, and help them understand how we care about them and their learning.

Well, this idea resonated with a couple of my former students who are now teachers, and a few of them got in touch with me, either asking questions about how to do this, or--in the case of one passionate elementary school teacher--suggesting an idea for how she would like to take this approach.

In her own words (with her permission to share here):

As I was trying to sleep last night. Thinking about your blog post, I thought about this:
QR codes. 
I could make little videos explaining things in the classroom (example: the procedure for checking out books in the classroom library). My school has an iPad cart. Each student brings headphones. They could wander around listening to videos about certain things in the classroom, at their own pace. 
I think it could take a decent amount of work to set up, but how fun would that be? My little 4th graders would think it was so cool.
I love this idea!

Are you familiar with QR codes? They are those weird, blocky, black-and-white graphics you see different places. "QR" stands for "quick response." These codes are intended to be a quick way to access a website on a mobile device. (And, actually, they have a lot of other uses as well...) Here's an example:

With a mobile device (i.e., phone, tablet, iPod, etc.) that had a QR code reader installed, you can scan this graphic, and it will automatically open a link in your browser. This one links to my last blog post. (By the way, there are tons of QR code reader apps available for free. Head to your favorite app store and search for "QR code reader" and you're sure to find a bunch of options.)

So imagine you would want to create this kind of experience for your students--whether on Day 1, or some other time along the way. Here are the steps you would need to follow:

  1. Create your videos for the tour.
  2. Upload them to YouTube, or your favorite video sharing site. 
  3. Create a QR code for each video. (More on that in just a moment...)
  4. Print these out and put them in the proper places in the room. (Per the example above, a video about procedures for getting books from the classroom library would be accessed by scanning a QR code near the classroom library, etc.)
  5. Make sure students' devices have a QR code reader, and off they go!
There are lots of tools available for creating your own QR codes (just go googling "create QR code" to see what I mean.) My favorite--because it's so easy to use--is Google's tool. Here's how to create your own QR codes with Google:

1. Head to
2. Copy and paste a link into the "Your original URL here" box, and then click "Shorten URL."

3. Hover your mouse over the link you created, and more options will appear. Click on the "three dots" button, and choose "QR Code"

4. A new window will pop open displaying your QR code. Right click (or, on a Mac, hold the "control" button and click) so a menu pops up. Choose "Save Image As..." and save your QR code. Pro tip: If you're making a bunch of these, decide on a naming scheme so you'll know which one is which!

5. You can put that saved QR code graphic anywhere. I would just paste it into a word processing document (Google Docs? MS Word?) and then you can print them out as needed.


What do you think? Would you create a QR tour of your classroom? What other great ideas do you have for using QR codes in the classroom?


  1. Dave - I've done this! Explained here:

    I won't do it the same again, however, as students were silently going around the room, listening to videos and filling in a sheet. I would change a lot about it, and it was already a TON of work... I don't even know if the kids liked it or not, even though I tried to make some of it funny!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story--and how your students responded! I figured other folks have surely done this before. :-) I'm thinking about having my college students create a scavenger hunt like this in one of my courses this year though; I think it could be a good experience for them in tech integration. (Just have to find some "real live kids" for them to have try the scavenger hunt once it's created!)

  2. cool. I want to use QR codes for new visitors at our church! :)

    1. That could be a nice, low-stress way for new folks to get the low-down!