Thursday, September 26, 2013

QR Codes in the Library

I had wanted to try out QR codes for a very long time but somehow it never happened. Then, a few weeks ago, as I was thinking of an engaging way for students to explore different strategies and resources on finding books for recreational reading in our library, QR codes came to my mind. Technology is always such a great motivator :)

Before beginning to make any specific plans, I asked our fantastic IT Director for his advice. What did he think of the idea in general? Would I be able to reserve some of our iPads for the day? Would our network be able to handle a whole class of students accessing videos and other online resources through QR codes at the same time? His encouraging comments convinced me to give it a try. I made a list of the strategies and resources I wanted to introduce, created and uploaded to YouTube video tutorials where needed (everything you link to with a QR code needs to be online) and then made the actual QR codes. On recommendation of a friend, I used Visualead, which allows you to create, download and embed (for free) QR codes. It's really simple and straightforward as the site leads you through the process step-by-step. Once downloaded, I printed the QR codes and attached them at their respective locations around the library.

On the day, students worked in pairs. Each pair had an iPad and a clipboard with a check list of all strategies and resources to be discovered. The ultimate task was for students to explore each strategy and resource before creating a book mark with their favourite ways of finding books to read for pleasure.

Here is what was on the list:
1. Our library's online resources, in particular the Kid Lit and Kid Lit Series tab.
2. Online catalog
3. Displays
4. Display of teachers' favourite books
5. Dewey Decimal Guide (the orange sign in the picture on the right)
6. Librarians' reader's journal
7. Quick Pick boxes
8. Reading footprints
9. Ms. Tanja reads (linking to my Goodreads and Shelfari)
10. Ask a librarian
11. Librarian's favorite search strategy
12. Book trailer corner.

Would I do this again?
Definitely! Everyone was so engaged. Plus, so many students and adults visiting the library, immediately spotted the QR codes and seemed intrigued by the idea. The QR codes turned out to be a great conversation starter as well.

Would I do something differently?
I might reduce the number of QR codes for the first session as some students seemed to rush from one QR code to the next, not spending enough time to explore the individual strategy/resource.

I am also considering to upload my videos on Vimeo rather than YouTube. Even though my videos are unlisted, I just don't like the "Suggested Videos" part - you never know what might come up.

I would use a different QR code reader (we used RedLaser, which worked fine but is designed for iPhones).

I will definitely explore in which other ways I can make use of QR codes in the library. If you have any experiences and ideas to share, I would love to hear about them. And here three of my QR codes for you to try out :)


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