Friday, March 18, 2016

Audio QR codes

While using QR codes is a great way to share information with students and parents, hearing their teacher's voice makes students even more excited about engaging with the content! Since teachers can't be with every student every moment of class time, use QR codes makes it seem like there are multiple copies of the teacher in the room!

Online voice recorders
This website is probably one of the simplest and easiest to use online voice recorders. You get a one button recorder and it immediately saves your audio.

Be careful, though! You don't get a countdown to warn you when to start recording. As soon as you click the button you are recording! When you are done you can preview your audio and record again if needed. When you are happy with the audio, save the audio. You could download the audio file, but you also have the option to get a QR code that goes directly to it!
This is another free and simple online voice recorder. Simply push the button to record your voice.

It's advantage is that once you are done recording, you can also trim your audio.

When everything is just like you want, click the Save button and download the audio file as an mp3 file. This file will then need to be uploaded to a cloud service where you can share the URL with it. That process is described below.
This website will take your written text and translate it into audio using a QR code. Enter a message up to 100 characters and click the QR code icon. The QR code will appear on the screen, which you can then download to your computer. The QR code links out to Google Translate and reads the text as audio.

Mobile Device

I'm not familiar with Android devices, but on iPhones you can use the built in Voice Memo app. iPads don't come with this app, but there are plenty of options out there like Voice Recorder by TapMedia. Regardless of which app you end up using, once your voice recording is done, tap the share icon and save it to a cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox.

With these cloud services you can then get a share link to the audio file. Copy and paste that share URL into an online QR code generator like Save the QR code to your computer and its ready to print out or embed in a document!

Keith Ferrel has a great YouTube video showing how to integrate audio QR codes and Google Docs.

Also check out Tony Vincent's post Clone Yourself with QR Codes for some other great tips on recording audio and video for QR codes.

Integration Ideas

Math problems with audio QR codes for the answers
Rhyming words - teacher reads two words and the student records if they rhyme or not
Verbal directions for center, lab, or activity

What are some other ways you can think of to use audio QR codes?
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Batch-create QR codes with Google Sheets

In some situations you might need to create a bunch of QR codes at once. Perhaps you are generating a series of codes from audio files for a rhyming activity or creating codes for audiobooks for your listening center. Creating a lot of codes manually can become a chore. Luckily, Google Sheets has an easy to use formula that lets you create those codes automatically.
  1. Log into your Google account and create a new spreadsheet.
  2. Label column A Information. This is where you will put the URL or text for your QR code.
  3. Label column B QR Code. After entering the formula from step 6, the QR code will appear in this column.
  4. Resize the columns and rows so they are approximately 200 pixels by 200 pixels. You want them big enough to be hold the QR code, which will be 150x150.
  5. Copy and paste this formula into cell B2 and hit enter:
  1. A QR code will appear in the cell.
  2. Click the tiny blue square in the bottom-right corner of the cell and drag down to fill the formula in that column. QR codes should appear for all the information you filled in each row. If you didn’t fill in each row and you see QR codes then you can go back and put in information and those QR codes will change to add the new information.
Your spreadsheet should look something like this:

Print them out, cut them up and place where you want them in your classroom. Or copy the images and embed them into a document for activities or directions for your students.

Here is a link to a sample spreadsheet I used to create the codes above. You can use it to see how the formula works.

I would love to here how you have used QR codes in the classroom. Tell me about them in the comment section.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What is black and white and scanned all over?

A parent is looking at tonight's homework assignment on lattice multiplication and has no idea how to do it. On the homework sheet is the QR code to a video tutorial showing how it's done.

Students looking through books in the school or class library turn to the inside cover and scan a QR code to hear an audio review of the book or watch a book trailer.

These are pretty cool uses for QR codes and are surprisingly easy to make!  

What Are QR Codes?

QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes used to store or link to information in a digital medium. The QR code was invented in 1984 by the Denso Wave Corporation, a subsidiary of Toyota, to keep track of vehicle parts during manufacturing. QR Codes are capable of storing a much higher amount of data (such as text, URLs, videos, etc.) than traditional barcodes. They have a smaller size, have error correction capability, and most importantly are readable from any direction.

Check out this 2 minute video that explains how QR codes work.

Scanning QR Codes

Scanning QR codes is very simple - you just need a QR reader on your mobile device. Regardless of which app you choose, to scan the QR code you simply launch the app and align the scanner to the QR code.

There are many free apps out there, but for iPads there are two that I like.

Qrafter both scans and creates QR codes, so you can use it as an all in one solution. The downsides are that the free version has ads that students have to dismiss before following the link. The paid version is inexpensive and removes the ads.

QR Reader by Scan is a bare bones QR reader. That's all it does - just launch the app and point the camera at the QR code. This simplicity is its strong point - no worry about ads or a confusing interface.

Making QR Codes

QR codes are super easy to make. Remember that when your student scans a QR code he/she is following a link to somewhere, whether its a website, a video, a document, sound file, or whatever. So that something has to exist first and you have to have the link to its location. With the two QR codes above I had to copy the URL to the YouTube videos they link to.

If I wanted students to access a PDF, image, or video I created I would have to save those files to a cloud service such as Google Drive or Dropbox. I can then get the "share link" and put that in a QR code.

Create QR Codes Online

The creator of Qrafter has an online QR code generator found his official website. From the first drop down menu select Browse to a Website, enter the URL, and click Generate Code at the bottom.
You will then have the QR code that you can download and save. It's just a graphics file that you can save like any other file and embed within a document or print out.

Google has a QR code generator built in to their URL shortening service at After creating the shortened URL simply add .qr to the end of that URL. So the shortened URL would become

Another great site is, which is completely free. It provides a similar easy-to-use interface. Just follow the four steps to create the perfect QR code you can download as a graphic or print.

Create QR Codes on an iPad

Creating the QR codes on an iPad or other mobile device is just as easy. I like to use Qrafter app as mentioned above because it does it all.

  1. Tap the Create button
  2. Tap the type of QR code you want to make. The most common is URL which allows you to link to websites, videos, images, and any other file. Another great option is Text, which allows you to embed words, phrases, or sentences into the QR code.
  3. Enter the URL.
  4. Tap Create and your QR code is created and appears on the screen.

To get the QR code off of the iPad tap the Share icon. You can save the QR code to your camera roll or cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive. The file is a graphics file that can be embedded into any document.

QR Codes in the Classroom

What are some practical ways of using QR codes in your classroom? Here's a few examples, with links to many more ideas.

Here's a few ideas I've gleaned from various resources around the web using a simple Google search "qr codes in the classroom".
  • Vocabulary - this teacher describes how she uses QR codes to teach vocabulary words in her ELL class
  • Library books - place QR codes inside book covers that link to online book trailers or book reviews created by other students
  • Self directed learners - students scan a QR code to reveal a task to perform individually or in a group. In science the QR code could link to an explanation of the steps in an experiment. In PE this could be the steps in an exercise rotation or to model skills.
  • Works cited page - have students create links to a work cited page for their research.
  • Worksheet resources - turn any worksheet into a dynamic, interactive resource by linking to tutorials or directions.
  • Artwork - link artwork to information about the artist, etc.
  • Check work - create QR codes that students can use to check their work.
  • Audiobooks - this teacher has created QR codes that link to 75 different audiobooks for young students. Students can follow along in the book while it is read aloud.
  • Rhyming words - this teacher used QR codes to help her students understand rhyming words. The QR code links to a recording of her saying the two words out loud. Students then mark on a sheet whether the words rhyme. They then scan another QR code to check their answers.

And, of course, the venerable Kathy Schrock has a guide to QR Codes in the Classroom
with a more comprehensive list of resources and ideas.

I'd love to hear how you are using QR codes in the classroom. Share your ideas in the comments below!
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