Friday, May 25, 2012

Using QR Codes to Make an Interactive Yearbook

About a year ago, I wrote a post proclaiming my excitement about QR codes in the classroom. Since that time, the little square anomalies have blown up and now appear pretty much everywhere (last weekend I even spotted one taped to the door of the place where I go to get my hair cut).

My school, too, has made strides in using QR codes. One now appears on our official school letterhead, and one is prominently displayed in the main lobby that links to a supplemental video for our online book clubs. Most notably, however, is the sudden appearance of them in this year's student yearbook.

I have worked with our art teacher and yearbook coordinator to include embedded videos in QR code form that correspond with the events that are memorialized on the pages of the yearbook. It's a way to make the yearbook a more accurate snapshot of what life was like throughout the year.

Our efforts did not go unnoticed. Local news channel, WIVB, heard about our yearbooks and did a quick segment on our use of technology to connect the physical and digital worlds. You can read their news story here or watch the story below.


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4 Responses:

Ryan Adney said...

In addition to all my other hats, I am the yearbook advisor/teacher for my school. We have talked (as an editorial board) about QR codes. The technology is really cool. It can be used in a lot of interesting ways. However, I am of the mind-set that including them in an annual can be a tricky decision. Imagine looking at this book 50 years from now. The books will be littered with QR codes that points to web content that will not be available. Web pages are not permanent and are rarely archived in the same way as books. Sure, there is the Wayback Machine (way back to the 90s) that attempts to archive the web, but it's not the best and many sites are completely ignored.

There are also issues with file formats in the future. Can a digital video survive the re-encoding process for the next 50 years and still be completely 100% playable?

I am not trying to poo-poo on QR codes. They are fun and a novel way of encoding information. Our yearbook team has even used them in advertising, but giving print space to something that cannot be enjoyed in the future. We have decided to use QR codes, but only in supplemental materials.

Anyway, just some of my thoughts.

Mrs. K said...

I was thinking that using QR codes in yearbooks was a pretty darn cool idea...until I read Ryan's comment [above]. As much as I would like to include something innovative and exciting like a QR code in a yearbook, I guess Ryan has a point: can we guarantee that those links will still work in years to come? Can we even guarantee that the QR code itself won't evolve into something of a different format that requires a different reader? *sigh*

As much as I love technology, this is one downside: constant changes mean it's hard to preserve things for posterity. I definitely commend you for the IDEA of using QR codes in a yearbook, though; I think I'll post a link to your article on my facebook fan page and ask my readers to debate. :)

John Mikulski said...

First, It's good to hear from you again, Ryan. I hope all is well and you're still busily clicking away on those typewriters!

When we began toying with the idea of QR codes in the yearbook, this problem crossed my mind. I know that our school website changes CMS companies every few years, so instead of hosting videos there, we decided to go with what is presumably the most reliable hosting solution - Youtube. It's a calculated risk, but since we only used the QR content to supplement the yearbook, we figured it was worth a chance. Of course, using an outside site created some challenges with student privacy concerns, but I figured Youtube is probably going to be around for a long while (although I'm sure people said that very thing back in the 90s about sites like Geocities and AskJeeves!).

Erica Hartman said...

Would you mind telling us which QR code generator you would use for videos that are hosted on a server?