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Using QR Codes

This QR Code links to the HGfL homepage

This QR Code links
to the HGfL homepage

A QR Code, or Quick Response Code, is a type of bar code that can be easily and freely created, and read by a QR Code reader on a mobile device such as a mobile phone or iPod Touch / iPad. Contained within the code is information which you want to make available to other people. This is usually small amounts of information such as contact details or a web address, or a link to a video or photograph, questionnaire etc.

QR codes can be created in seconds using free online code creating tools, and the resulting code can be saved as an image file to be printed out or shared in other ways. They have been described as ‘paper-based hyperlinks.’

QR codes provide a quick and convenient way to enable people to access or save data, using their mobile device. A quick scan of a code and they have saved your email address, accessed your website or provided you with feedback. Or, in the classroom, they have accessed information or an activity, provided by the teacher.


Ideas for using QR Codes in the Classroom

  • If you are using smart mobile devices (eg iPads or other tablets) a QR Code provides an easy way to distribute content to each device. For example, rather than the pupils having to type in a lengthy web address, you can print out a QR code for pupils to scan, which will bring up the desired webpage on their devices.
    • Link to a worksheet for the pupils to download.
    • Link to a video file or image (note that the file will have to be online, in order for the devices to be able to download them.)
    • Link to some text you have created, with instructions, homework etc.

    Try this sample quiz on
    your mobile device!

  • You can create quizzes and tests for free using Google Docs (using Forms) or another online quiz tool, and share the link to the quiz via a QR Code. When the pupils scan the code, the quiz or test will appear on their device ready for them to complete. With Google Forms the results are sent back to your Google Docs account and are collected in a spreadsheet.
  • You could provide a paper based activity for pupils to work on, with QR Codes to provide access to the answers (self assessment) or additional help if the pupils need it.
  • Provide accompanying video for questions on a paper based worksheet. For example, ask the pupils to scan the QR Code to watch a specific video clip and then answer the questions you have asked on the worksheet.
  • Create a learning quest with QR Codes. Pupils could use the codes as clues to complete a trail around the school, searching for information, answering questions and finding things out.
  • Make your classroom displays interactive by placing QR Codes in them, linking to relevant resources. For example, if you are making a display on a history topic you could link to Horrible Histories or suchlike.


Ideas for using QR Codes in School Communications

  • Add QR Codes to your newsletters and other home/school communications so that parents/carers and other stakeholders can access and store additional information. Eg, link to revision websites, a useful esafety video or school policy documents.
  • Place QR Codes on display boards near reception so visitors can access and/or save information you want them to have, such as dates for the diary etc.
  • Place QR Codes around the school on parents evening or other events when visitors come in, providing multimedia information.
  • Place a QR Code on your business card so people can easily save your details to their mobile device.
  • Create surveys using a free online questionnaire / survey service and share via QR Code.


How to Create a QR Code

Creating a QR Code is very quick and simple. There are many websites which will help you do this. Be aware than the more information you try to include in the code, the denser the code pattern will be, which may make it more difficult for some devices to scan. So if you are linking to a long web address (URL), it might be a good idea to shorten that URL using a service such as or first, and then make the code link to the short URL.

To link to a file you have personally created, you will need to put that file online first. There are many ways of doing this, including Windows Live Skydrive, blogs, free wikis etc. Be aware than many file hosting services will be unavailable to Hertfordshire school computers/devices using WF3 web filtering. You could use a Learning Platform to host your files, but pupils would probably need to log-in to the learning platform to access the file. You should not post any sensitive or personal information online and should follow the usual guidelines for safe online publishing. More information here. 

Then, all you need to do is use an online service to create your code. For example


Note the white border around the QR Codes you create is part of the encoding and should not be cropped out, or the code may not work.



How to Read a QR Code

You will need a mobile device with a camera. There are a number of QR Code scanning apps available for the popular mobile platforms such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7. Once you’ve downloaded your app you simply start it, point the scanner (camera) at the code and it will scan it. Note that you may need to be connected to the internet to access the content of the code if it stored online (eg a video or website.)

QR Codes can be read on desktop computers using specific software or online services, but as links and content can be shared electronically on computers anyway, there is little point in reading QR Codes on them.