QR codes are a useful instructional tool in training courses because they provide seamless access to important supplemental resources.
From Failed Idea to Valuable Tool
QR—or Quick Response— codes first made waves in 2010 when QR code scanner and reader applications were first released for smartphone platforms. And while they had the potential to transform how information is shared, technology wasn’t ready for them yet. Using a QR code was confusing, clunky, and cumbersome.
Fast forward 10+ years, and QR codes have made a resurgence. More people own smartphones, those phones now have QR-code scanners built into their cameras, and high-speed mobile internet is more prevalent and accessible.
QR codes have become popular in social media apps like Snapchat, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Global industries like food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals are implementing them on packaging to provide enhanced product information. During the pandemic, QR codes emerged as a perfect way to provide touchless access to content – from restaurant menus to business cards and marketing collateral. And now, they’re also being used to facilitate deeper learning in both in-person and virtual professional development programs.
Here are three reasons to start incorporating QR codes in your next training course
1. QR Codes Help Create a Blended Learning Environment
Today, an increasing number of instructors are incorporating QR codes to increase comprehension and retention by blending printed course materials and digital content.
eMATHinstruction is one organization who has seen the success of this strategy. eMATHinstruction is an independent publisher that provides well-designed middle and high school math courses to school districts around the country. At the start of each section within their printed textbooks, they provide a QR code that takes the learner to a video providing an instructor-led walk-through of the material.
QR codes aren’t just for video. They can link to any supplemental materials to complement printed training manuals, including: maps, graphs, 3-D renderings, audio clips, and photos.
This additional content can provide a deeper dive of the textbook material. Or, provide tutorials on how to apply learning concepts in real-world scenarios, making them a perfect tool regardless of whether your course is in-person, virtually, or as self-guided e-learning.
2. QR Codes Help Facilitate Active Participation
There are several ways instructors are using QR codes in their classrooms to encourage collaboration learner participation, including:
Participants use QR codes placed around the classroom (in-person classes), accessed within printed instructional materials (for in-person or virtual classes), or within an online module (virtual classes) to answer questions, solve quick problems, or complete short tasks to ensure subject matter fluency.
QR codes can link to online collaborative documents where in-person or virtual participants can brainstorm ideas, pose questions on a peer’s presentation, or add thoughts and notes to a case study.
Instructors can use QR codes that link to online quizzes, polls, and surveys to quickly assess how well the material is being absorbed and make real-time adjustments if necessary. Some online tools are designed to turn these assessments into fun gamification activities for both in-person and virtual learners.
3. QR Codes Provide Access to Just-in-Time Training After the Course Ends
Learners can walk away with a substantial amount of new knowledge after taking a training course. But the application of that knowledge may not happen for days, weeks, or even months after the class ends. Strategically placed QR codes can provide quick access to reminders and other time-critical information at the moment its needed, including:
- In restaurants, libraries, and schools where employees may need help with a mental health situation, overdose, or allergic reaction
- In health clinics for medical professionals to access point-of-care resources to improve health care delivery
- On or near equipment to assist with diagnosis and repair of less-common mechanical issues
- For anyone who has completed previous first aid training and needs an in-the-moment refresher
While QR Codes provide a simple way to access online content, their application goes beyond just visiting a website. They are an effective tool to improve learning outcomes both within and outside the classroom. Because of this, training professionals are using them to provide blended learning, increase peer collaboration, and offer just-in-time training.
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