Like other new information technologies, QR codes are not going to replace other, more traditional communication channels. Designed to work on smart phones, QR codes might not be the best choice for school leaders who haven’t yet created a mobile-friendly version of their website or who don’t have a presence on YouTube and Facebook.
For those who already are active on social media and the blogosphere, however, QR codes make a nice addition to their PR and marketing toolkit.
Like all technologies, QR codes also might be used to gather information about consumers, track their buying preferences, and build marketing databases.
While these applications seem far removed from school communications, the ability to communicate directly and specifically with individual stakeholders makes QR codes a promising relationship-building tool.
School leaders who would like something more aesthetically pleasing than the ugly but oddly appealing QR code might want to investigate Microsoft tags, which work similarly to QR codes but offer more variation in terms of graphics, color, size, and content.
QR codes also can be used inappropriately. Because spammers, hackers, identity thieves, and others with ill intent also use QR codes to lure victims, it’s important that we understand the pros and cons so we can help guide our employees, students, and parents.
Before jumping on the QR bandwagon, test the waters with something simple yet popular with parents or employees, as GCS did with its cafeteria menus. Then check the results using Google Analytics or other free online measurement tools. Common measures include the number of scans, unique users, and number of site visits.
While QR codes might not take off in the U.S. as they have in Japan, France, the United Kingdom and other countries, today’s fractured communications landscape means that we have to be willing to reach out in a variety of ways, especially if we want to reach tech-savvy parents.
Award-winning eSchool News columnist Nora Carr is the chief of staff for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools.