I’m sure you’ve seen them. They are showing up everywhere.

QR codes. Those little, square squiggly barcode looking things.

A QR code is a handy way to share all sorts of information quickly and easily – the QR part actually stands for Quick Response.  QR codes are designed to be de-coded by dedicated QR readers and smartphone apps. Codes consist of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background that is unique to specific information. This information might be text, a web site or all sorts of stuff.

And I know you’re asking yourself

So what? I teach history. I got better things to do with my time.

I know . . . cause early on, I was saying the same thing. Kinda cool technology but it doesn’t really help me do my job. But the more I play with them, I’ve become convinced that teachers can use these things to help kids learn.

Especially as more and more of our students are carrying around smartphones and other mobile devices like iPads and iPods, the use of QR codes can be incredibly powerful. Part of the beauty of a QR code is that you don’t need a computer lab or laptops or really anything other than an understanding administrator and a couple of kids with mobile devices in their back pockets.

Kids can learn when and where they want. You provide choices. Individualized instruction. Rapid dissemination of information. Fast feedback. Pretty much what most 21st century education pundits are pushing for.

So I started looking around for ways to integrate the use of QR codes into history instruction. And ran across a great post by Kerry Turner that gives some handy advice for history teachers titled, wait for it . . . 10 Ways to Use QR Codes in a History Classroom.

So with thanks to Kerry, here’s five of the ten.

Head over to to the original article to get the final five. Better yet, just download any QR app and scan the code below:

Kerry's article

1. Link to a class web site: I always keep a blog of the work we’re doing in each of my classes. This is so that once students are at home they can use the site to check up on what we’ve done in class, to find instructions for their homework, sets of notes, worksheets or mark schemes for the same. I usually write the URL on the board and they copy this into their exercise books. More than once the URL has been copied down incorrectly, resulting in much online searching to find the correct site. In the future, I plan to give my classes a QR code of the blog URL to paste into the inside front cover of their exercise books.

2. Homework: Many teachers have referenced the potential of QR codes in place of students writing up the day’s homework. There is certainly more than one way to achieve this; project the QR code on a screen and students could scan it as they leave the classroom, place the printed version of the QR code near the door and on exiting, students can scan the code in a similar fashion – or, one could print off the QR Code and hand these out for students to paste into their homework planners, or exercise books.

3. Videos:

As I collect many of the videos I use in teaching History on Vodpod, I have added QR codes which contain a link to the video, which in turn relates specifically to the section of class notes I hand out.

4. VoiceThread (or any other Web 2.0 tool):

When the students complete a VoiceThread exercise I create an A5 sheet for students to paste into their exercise books. This shows the image used in the exercise, the questions asked and enough space for an assessment mark and/or my comment.

5. Homework Review: I’ve also chosen to place a QR code with an embedded URL into students exercise books. This links to a mark scheme as a homework review for completed homework. These have been added next to the work in the students’ books. For this I chose an Avery label template in Microsoft Word and copied the QR code, together with a short reference heading, onto the A4 Avery label page. (Very quick and easy to do.) I printed these off and pasted them into the students’ books. Added to this could be a QR Code which links to several good pieces of work for students to reference.



Head over to QRStuff to find tons of useful resources including a free, easy-to-use QR Code generator that will help you get started. Check out a nice LiveBinder on QR codes. Even more QR codes in ed stuff.

Give it a try. Your kids will love you!