Quick Response (QR) codes—those black-and-white squares that look like a cross between supermarket bar codes and postage stamps—have real potential for school communications.
Created by a Japanese corporation in 1994, QR codes act like print-based hyperlinks to websites and social media networks. The codes are gaining traction because they allow on-the-go consumers to access websites more quickly from their mobile phones.
Found in newspapers, magazines, local TV news broadcasts, business cards, billboards, brochures, t-shirts, consumer product packaging, and just about anything else that can be printed, QR codes work by encoding URLs, contact information, geography coordinates, photos, and other text—in any language.
Consumers access the codes via free QR reader applications available online. Cell-phone cameras serve as scanners.
Businesses are using QR codes to link consumers to store and restaurant locations, product promotions, contests, movie trailers, loyalty programs, and corporate websites.
In Japan, for example, restaurant patrons use the two-dimensional QR codes to check meal option calories, fat, salt intake, and other nutritional information.
While U.S. consumers remain wary of QR codes compared to their global counterparts, I suspect they will grow in popularity here.
In the meantime, school leaders and teachers can start experimenting with them now to connect with colleagues and parents.