QR Codes & Augmented Reality – Which is the best fit?


This week we’re examining QR codes & augmented reality!  Get excited people!

QR Codes

QR Codes have been in the mainstream for a few years now.  Maybe you’ve seen them in newspapers, magazine ads, or in movie advertisements.  The general concept requires one to use a mobile device such as an iPhone, Smartphone, or tablet to scan a square barcode image that uploads a website, a video, a still image, or in some cases an audio statement!  You need to download a free app such as QR Reader to scan images.  *Therefore, you also need to make sure all school equipment has an app such as this one to make sure a class activity is a success.  Success is always in the details.  Sigh!

The QR code shown above was created for free through QR Code-Monkey.com.  Rather than use the traditional black barcode, I chose fuscia and selected an icon to note that it links to a URL.  If you scan this one, it will take you to a Teen Ink review of a John Green novel titled Looking for Alaska.

If you are interested in creating QR Codes, here are some additional sites that will allow you to do so:

  • QR Stuff – I have used this one consistently and reliably.
  • i-Nigma
  • QR Voice  **This is the one that will say up to 100 words.  Scan the image below to hear the automated voice.
Created with QR Voice

Created with QR Voice

Some instructional ideas for QR Codes include:

  • Scavenger Hunt **Note:  In all honesty it takes time to create QR Codes, so I would only do this if multiple classes benefit from it or if it is a scavenger hunt you know you will use repeatedly.
  • Library orientation
  • Student book reviews – cool if they are limited to a 100 word synopsis through the QR Voice site.
  • Links to official book trailers
  • Project information, contest information, book club/extracurricular information
  • Skill reinforcement at a specific station; qr code might link up to  a tutorial
  • Station instructions/facilitation; might work really well with the research process

Augmented Reality Tools

Augmented reality, on the other hand, takes things a little farther.  It is much more dynamic, but still operates in the same fashion.  Again, a person has to use a mobile device that has an augmented reality app such as Aurasma or Layar to scan an actual photograph or even a barcode image like the one used above.  Then the person can view an augmented reality.  What is an augmented reality?  In some cases, it can be a still image of an object or a person.  When you scan the person’s face it may upload a video of him/her sharing information.  You might scan an image of a student that subsequently uploads to a website product the student created. This type of student to student-product is great for parents waiting on parent-teacher conference nights.  Aurasma, specifically, will allow you to scan an image of the person and that person will morph into a moving image.  With Aurasma, the person is lined up so perfectly that it literally feels like the speaker comes to life!  The best way to see this is to experience it.  Go ahead…download the Aurasma app onto your mobile device.  Then click here and scroll down the page to the “Try one out!” section.  I was so impressed!

In comparison to each other, Layar is a little closer to QR codes so I will start with that one.  Layar allows you to scan images and link videos, websites or more to that image.  You can start with a traditional barcode image, but most people use it more dynamically and start with an actual photograph image.  The video on the Layar landing page gives a pretty clear example of how it works.  The caveat to Layar is that you MUST create on a computer and you only use the Layar App to scan AFTER the product is created.  For teachers strictly on mobile devices, this is NOT the best tool.  This blog does a great example of pointing out the pros and cons of Layar vs. Aurasma and has a student Layar product within it.  Aurasma, however, can be created and accessed completely through mobile devices.  Aurasma truly has an “out of this world” feeling when you see an image of someone literally coming life.  Note:  Aurasma refers to their barcodes/images as “auras.”  Scanning an aura reveals the augmented reality.

In terms of student use, here are some ideas for using Augmented Reality in schools:

  • Link student images to their student products (great for curriculum fairs, parent teacher conferences, etc.)
  • Create a museum tour featuring student work from a specific unit.  Students could create Augmented Reality explanations of their individual artifacts in the exhibit.
  • Interview someone who has something important to share about the past or someone who has an important role in the local community.  You can use the still image of the person in their youth as the scan-able image that links up to the augmented reality (video recording) of that person sharing his/her life experience in the present time.
  • Have students create media and embed specific propaganda techniques (this is a middle school Language Arts standard in Virginia).  Layar is a great tool for this work because it has to be created on the computer which allows students to really fine tune their ad and incorporate video, audio, and other media that uses propaganda.
  • Book reviews by students – You can display these on placards beside new arrivals.    I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Daring Librarian’s idea of posting these in the bathroom because that is where students generally feel free to take out their smartphones!  Read her blog post to find out whether this is a good fit for your school or not.
  • Digital storytelling
  • Promotional Information about contest, clubs, activities.  These would be more dynamic than QR Codes because you might incorporate videos explaining a contest, examples of club activities, etc.

If you are reading this blog and have student products to share, please comment.  We would love to see them!!


3 responses to “QR Codes & Augmented Reality – Which is the best fit?

  1. Wow, you have so many great ideas here! I love the one about using codes to promote contests, clubs, and activities. It would be great to have the meeting information pop up, or have a video promoting the event.

  2. I love your descriptors and uses of these tools! I was particularly interested in how the still photo images “come to life” similar to the TED talk. I need to give this a try – I can’t wait to share about this with teachers in the fall!

  3. Your blog is such a great resource. I have just done the same assignment, and now I read your blog and learn more! I think QR codes would be great for library orientation because they could stay available all year for new students and when old students (and ahem, teachers!) forget.

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