4 Ways the New QR Codes Will Affect College Students

What the heck is a QR code? QR stands for “quick response” and it’s a matrix scanning code (like a barcode) that contains meta data representing websites, email addresses, text messages, and specific information. Originally started in 1994 in Japan by a Toyota subsidiary (for tracking auto parts) a QR code is like a fingerprint for anything you assign to it.

Although QR codes have been used for a while in other parts the world, they’ve just started infiltrating the U.S. in the last few years. Each QR code is unique, but at a glance they all look like a black square of mazes (see right). Unlike the traditional vertical barcode, however, a QR code can hold many times more data, due to the fact that they scan multidimensional using your smartphone.

So where’s the connection between QR codes and college students? As we all know higher education is all about shuffling and storing data. And if this can be done easily by having students, faculty and administration scan each other’s QR codes with smartphones, you can bet that will happen. So in the interest of being on the cutting edge of predictions, here are four ways that QR codes will change the way students navigate through college. (And remember, you heard it here first!)

  1. College Application and Registration
  2. In the course of your college career, how many times do you think you have to fill out a college form that includes your name, address, e-mail, and phone number? All that information can be put into a QR code that YOU easily create by way of a QR code generation website. If your information changes, you simply create a new QR code.

    In the name of brevity, as well as saving money and trees, there will come a time very soon when all a student will have to do to apply to a school or register for classes is submit his or her QR code to the college registrar office. To select classes for the quarter a student would simply scan the QR code for the course catalog, click on the desired classes that pop up, generate a new QR code that includes those classes, and then e-mail or text the QR code to the registrars’ office. Boom. You’re registered.

  3. College Coursework
  4. Have you ever received a course syllabus from one of your college instructors and all it contains is a list of websites and textbooks? Well, guess what? Libraries have been among the first word-wide to embrace QR codes. The whole Dewey Decimal system that libraries use to catalog books is the epitome of meta data. So coming to a classroom near you very soon will be a course syllabus of QR codes that represent the textbooks and websites you need to read to complete the class. When you scan a QR code for a website the web address (and any bookmarks the instructor might have included) will be stored on your smartphone. If it’s a QR code for a textbook, either the text book will open in a reader (like a Kindle or iBooks) or you’ll be told at which online bookstore you can buy the book.

  5. Travel
  6. At some point you may want to leave your college campus to visit family. If you’re flying home you’ll need a boarding pass to get on the plane. Many airlines already include the option to download the QR code for your boarding pass onto your smartphone. That way, when you board the plane, you let the gate agent scan the QR code on your smartphone. No more losing your board pass. And no more having to find a printer while on the road so you can print your boarding pass before you go to the airport.

  7. Networking
  8. Job hunting has already gone digital with online resume generators, Monster.com, personal websites, and of course the new LinkedIn app that will allow job hunters to apply for jobs using LinkedIn profiles. All good, but what about when you network? Already in place are vCards and vCalendars, which are perfect applications QR codes. A vCard is a virtual business card that includes all the information a regular business contains. The difference? To trade vCards with someone, for example, you simply scan (using smartphones) the QR codes for each other’s vCards. Your phone directory will automatically be updated with your new friend’s contact info. Same goes for scheduling appointments using vCalendar. No more losing business cards or carrying around bulky day-timers.

All this may sound like science fiction but most of it is already in use, and the rest of it is just around the corner. Because of the way college functions it’s the perfect breeding ground for QR codes. The only drawback to using QR codes is that students are required to own smartphones. So at least initially there will have to be alternatives for students who can’t comply. UNLESS someone makes a single use QR code reader—kind of like an iPod that’s only used for music. Hmmm. Stay tuned…at this point anything can happen.

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  1. Franck S
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Do QR codes have to be registered to point to a particular web address?

  2. Posted July 6, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    You have to create your website’s QR code with a QR code generator. But as far as I know, you don’t have to register it with any agency beyond that. (If you find out otherwise, please let me know.) For more info, check out “How to Use QR Codes for Small Business Marketing” at http://mashable.com/2010/06/23/qr-codes-small-biz/. Good luck! (And share any interesting tidbits you find out about QR codes with us by way of a comment on this blog.)

  3. Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    At QR blaster you can make codes for just about anything http://qrblaster.com/ sms, fb pages, text, youtube video, photos, and change colors really cool

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