Tag Archives: qr code

QR Codes on the noticeboard

So there I was walking down one of the corridors in the college when I noticed that there was a QR Code on the noticeboard.

It linked to a survey by students on bands and music, they were using surveymonkey that works well on a mobile device. The questionnaire was a simple one so could be easily completed on your mobile device.

I think the only thing I would have changed may have been adding some idea of what the QR Code was about. Also I would have been adding a short URL to the QR Code for those that did not have a QR Code reader.

Interesting to see learners using QR Codes on their own accord.

Optiscan – iPhone App of the Week

Optiscan – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at various Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive.

This week’s App is Optiscan.

Scan any QR code quickly and easily using your devices camera and Optiscan.

  • Create your own QR codes to share contacts, web addresses, text messages, phone numbers or locations with others.
  • Contrary to some reviews, it IS possible to create geo-location codes – use the ‘Note’ option to type (or copy/paste) the information in. This will be made easier in version 1.9.2 – due very soon!
  • Save to Photo album by holding down on the QR code image and selecting ‘Save Image’
  • Automatically scan a wide variety of QR code data formats
  • Save specific QR codes for quick sharing – perfect for sharing your business card!
  • Keep a history of QR codes created and scanned for easy recall.
  • Want to scan or generate codes in French? Japanese? No problem! Optiscan supports UTF-8, ISO-8859, and Shift-JIS.
  • Select the contact details you want to send, so the right people get the right information.
  • Found a QR code on the web? You don’t need two devices. Save the image to the photo gallery from Safari (tap and hold the image) – and Optiscan will decode them for you!
  • Optiscan runs without a network connection, and keeps your data private. Why put up with anything less?

£1.49

QR Codes do seem to be going mainstream at the moment and there are lots of people who are now embedding and using them in education.

In my own college one of the Sports Lecturers on a newsletter about College Sport put in a QR code that linked to a Flickr page with more photographs on.

The iPhone doesn’t come with a QR code reader and the older iPhones, the 3G and the 3GS, had a poor quality camera that often failed to render QR codes properly. When I had a 3GS I tried a few free QR code reader apps, but in the end after reading a review bought Optiscan.

Of course the camera in the iPhone 4 and the 4S is superior to previous cameras and as a result the newer iPhones are much better at reading QR codes.

It did the job really well, so have stuck with it since then.

It reads virtually all the QR codes I have thrown at it. I also like how it retains a history of all the QR codes I have read.

There are free QR code readers that work well on the iPhone 4 such as the QR Reader for iPhone that probably means paying for a reader isn’t necessary. However if you have the older 3GS or 3G have problems with one of the free readers then I would recommend Optiscan.

Get Optiscan in the iTunes Store.

Ten ways to use QR Codes

Sorry, this is not a blog post on ten ways to use QR Codes, but it is a blog post about what you actually can do with QR Codes. Once you know what you can do with QR Codes then you can build learning activities round those functions.

So what can you do with QR Codes?

QR Codes can be used to:

  • Display text to the user.
  • Add contact details to the user’s device, a vCard.
  • Open an Uniform Resource Identifier URI (most usually a web address of some kind).
  • Compose an e-mail address with the correct address.
  • Compose an SMS text message with the correct SMS number.

So there are five ways to use a QR Code. From those five ways, you can take an individual function and expand on how it can be used for teaching and learning, so for example taking the “open an URI” function, there are many ways that can be used to support learning.

Knowing what the five functions are, you can then be sure that QR Codes are the correct solution to solve a particular problem.

For example, you can use a QR Code to display text to a user. It has to be asked why would you display a QR Code to a user for text, when the text might as well be displayed, or given on paper! One reason you might for example is if you want the user to then take text move to a different location and then act on instructions in the text. With some large QR codes allowing up to 1852 characters you could provide users with some instructions or rules or something that they need to keep close. With text to speech, a user could read a QR Code and then the phone could read the text to the user. So there are reasons for using the text function of QR Codes, especially as the user won’t need any connectivity to read the text. However if displaying the text would be just as effective, why then use a QR Code?

Adding contact details is useful, for example providing details of the Library support phone number and e-mail address. QR Codes provide a quick and easy to add those details to a user’s address book on their device.

Opening an URI (for example a web address) is an often used function of QR Codes, we use it ourselves in the Gloucestershire College libraries. The best way though to think of QR Codes is as an URL shortener, like TinyURL, bitly or is.gd taking a long URL and providing learners with a shortened version. One mistake that people make is forgetting that when using QR Codes, the web page will 99.9% of the time be then displayed on a mobile device, probably using 3G. So there is little point in pushing out web content that won’t work on mobile devices or is huge etc…. Remembering that QR Codes are merely a way of shortening URIs for mobile devices means that users will get a better experience. Don’t just use a QR Code because you can, use it because it makes a difference, makes it easier for learners and makes it faster to access “the something else” that the learners need.

Using QR Codes to enable a user to send an e-mail or an SMS I think is a really useful way of using the technology. Do you want more information? Do you need help? Vote for this awful singer on X-Factor! Sign up for a newsletter. Of course it implies that either their device can send e-mails or they want to pay to send a text.

So sorry there aren’t ten ways of using a QR Code in this blog post, but I hope it clarifies what QR Codes actually do, the five actual ways to use a QR Code.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with using QR Codes, because they are QR Codes. We once did a QR Code treasure hunt, the reason though was not because we wanted to use something “awesome” no it was because we wanted to promote the use of QR Codes in the library that were been used to help students find e-resources and online content.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #056: QR Codes in the Library

We’ve put QR Codes in the Library to enable learners quick and easy access to electronic resources.

With James Clay.

This is the fifty sixth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, QR Codes in the Library.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: QR Codes in the Library

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Shownotes

BIG QR Codes

I have been interested and using QR Codes for a while now. I mentioned them on this blog nearly three years ago.

You then take a photograph of the barcode, and with special reader software you are able to convert the barcode into information, which could be a link to a website or just plain information.

Since then I have used them myself a fair few times. I used them at ALT-C 2009 to allow people to more easily vote for my poster (didn’t win by the way).

In presentations I have used them for titles or to share my contact details (though to be honest in the main to show people the potential of them).

We are using them in the Library at our Gloucester Campus to allow learners to access more information, links and further resources.

With the advent of Augemented Reality (AR) with Apps like Layar on the iPhone and Android, I have been wondering if there is a real future for mobile phone 3D barcodes.

There seemed to be very little use of them made in the mainstream public environment. Though interestingly Mashable reports today on how the City of New York has “outfitted Times Square with giant QR codes”.

[img credits: NYC Media]

To celebrate Internet Week 2010, the City of New York outfitted Times Square with giant QR codes earlier today. It’s called “The City at Your Fingerprints” and eleven New York agencies participated in the interactive billboard initiative.

Times Square denizens could use their smartphone barcode scanning app to scan the QR codes — which were featured in an animated sequence on the Thomson Reuters building in Times Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET — and pull up information relating to specific agencies being featured.

Some mobile phones come with a reader built in, I think my Nexus One did, and the Nokia N95 certainly did. Other phones don’t and need to have an app downloaded, I use Optiscan on my iPhone for example.

So where are we with QR Codes?

The University of Bath have been doing some extensive work on using QR Codes in education and their blog is well worth a read.

They are not mainstream and I know if I show them outside the mobile learning community and geekdom that most people have no idea what they are.

Are we at a point where they will take off?

Probably not.

I am sure AR will mature more and will be more useful.

Unexpected barcode in the bagging area…

A fair few times on this blog I have mentioned QR Codes, even a few times I have mentioned Microsoft Tags.

Both are mobile phone barcodes that store a lot more information than your standard product barcode that you scan at the supermarket.

By encoding information into print, users (or learners) can scan into their mobile phones, information, data, URLs,

So the question you may be asking, which of these two mobile phone barcode systems you should go for?

Well sometimes it is not a matter of comparing the two systems, but asking what device do your learners have and be using.

I have been using an iPhone 3G for nearly a year now and the main issue with using the iPhone and QR Codes is the quality of the camera. Due to the fixed focus it has real issues in acquiring and reading QR Codes. Now the iPhone 3GS has a much better camera and the variable focus does allow it to focus much better on QR Codes and decode them. However I still have issues and both the 3G and 3GS don’t even come close to the scanning ability of the Nokia N95.

Having recently installed the Microsoft Tag Reader on my Google Nexus One and reading the Microsoft Tag Blog I noticed that they said they had an iPhone App.

So out of curiosity I installed and tried it with my iPhone 3G and was surprised to see that it worked very well.

Now I do have issues with some of the privacy issues relating to Microsoft’s implementation of mobile phone barcodes, but if your learners all have iPhones and specifically the lower specified iPhone 3G then using Microsoft Tags may be a real option in getting learners easy access to information and URLs.

QR Coding

Today I was in Bristol for a meeting about QR Codes as part of a JISC LTIG project being run by the University of Bath.

We discussed lots of different uses of QR Codes, barriers to use of the codes and ideas for the future.

After lunch we visited an exhibition in Bristol city centre which makes use of QR Codes, whilst there I shot some video and made this short film.

Watch out for QR Codes at ALT-C this year.

QR Codes on your Computer

I have been looking at QR Codes for a while now, though apart from the odd presentation or handout, I haven’t made great use of them across my college.

Recently though I have been thinking about using them more, partly down to their use as part of MoLeNET and in the main as Gloucestershire College is part of a JISC Innovation project with the University of Bath looking at QR Codes.

In case you don’t recall, QR Codes allow information to be sent to a mobile phone via the camera. Simply put the information or link is encoded into a barcode type graphic.

This is a QR Code.

QR Codes on your Computer

You then take a photograph of the barcode, and with special reader software you are able to convert the barcode into information, which could be a link to a website or just plain information.

Back in 2007 when I was looking at them, very few of our students had cameraphones (that has changed) and most phones did not have the right software (that has also changed).

Today it is very easy to find software for a range of phones that allow the phone to read QR Codes.

However one of the BIG constraints on the use of QR Codes is the need to access the web on your phone when reading QR Codes. Though the cost of 3G has fallen considerably generally it is not something you will find on many pay as you go phones and is often an extra on monthly contract phones. Very few modern phones have wifi, so though we have a student wireless network, few of our students would be able to access that network over their phone.

Yesterday at a QR Codes Workshop ran at Gloucestershire College by Andy Ramsden from Bath, we were discussing QR Codes and he mentioned that Quickmark had a QR Code reader for a webcam.

I went to the site, downloaded and installed the software on my Samsung Q1 which has a built in camera.

The software works very well and I was impressed with how easy it was to use.

QR Codes on your Computer

To me this makes it very easy to start rolling out the use of QR Codes has if you have a computer then it is very likely that either it has a webcam, or you can get a webcam quite cheaply for it. As a result you will be able to scan in QR Codes using your computer as well as your phone.

This means that lecturers can add QR Codes to handouts that link directly into the appropriate part of the VLE or to another website.  There are other uses as well.

Now just need to find a QR Code reader that runs on Linux so I can use it on an EeePC and one that runs on OS X for my MacBook Pro.

A new kind of barcode….

So what’s this then?

A new kind of barcode....

Any ideas?

If you’re thinking it’s just a abstract graph of some kind, well you’re not quite correct.

Nor is it my new logo!

Neither is it an abstract representation of the readers of this blog.

Well if you’re thinking it must be some kind of mobile phone barcode then you’re going down the right path.

I mentioned QR codes on this blog ages ago… back in September 2007 as it happens and this is not a QR code, but it works in a similar fashion.

It’s a Microsoft Tag.

Yes Microsoft have developed their own version of mobile phone barcodes, which require their reader and require you to register in order to create them.

It’s all very typical Microsoft.

mstagsplash1

You can download a reader for your phone from gettag.mobi and when I did from my Nokia N73 it recogised my phone and I downloaded a .sis file which installed the application onto my phone.

In order to create a barcode (or should I say tag) you need to register and have a Microsoft Live ID.

You can then create a barcode for an URL or text. Though I did see that if you include an URL in your text, when you read the barcode, the reader takes you straight to the URL and you never see the text. So no chance of including your blog address in some biographical text for example. You can have a thousand characters in your text barcode, but I found I needed less for it to work (about 980).

There are only three options for the barcodes in terms of format, pdf, wmf and xps. You can specify the size of the code in terms of inches (no metric measurements here).

There are no web versions available, and on a superficial level you can understand that, why would you need an online version of a mobile phone barcode, just use the computer to access the site.

It did appear to work faster than my Kaywa reader and goes direct to the website rather than through the advertising supported Kaywa site that happens to me when I use a QR Code.

Overall I am not sure about this, not sure if it will catch on or whether we should stick with QR Codes.

Nah, stick with QR Codes.