5 ideas for using Tags and QR Codes for engaging students

The Microsoft Tag team are the people responsible for helping people develop innovative ways of using QR codes to engage consumers, pedestrians students…well, just about anybody with a smartphone. In simple terms, you create your own tag, and then anybody with a smartphone can scan it and be linked to websites, downloads, or other information.

One of the projects they describe on their Microsoft Tag blog is where the Co-op bookstore and PayPal in Australia have used it to help university students purchase text books, by taking out most of the leg work. Students scan the QR code without having to go into the book shop, and the books are shipped via next day delivery. I’d love this for my kids too, if I could just have a page of QR codes to scan for my children’s extensive book list, rather than having to type them all into another website.

Here’s the video of the project (buzzword bonus, the video contains the phrase ‘omnichannel retailer’):

And that got me thinking. What about using some of these QR code ideas to engage students?

Five ideas for using Tags and QR Codes for engaging students

  1. Embed a QR code in the pavement, to provide directions and information.
    Last week I was lost on the University of Sydney campus. How great would it have been to scan a QR code and get a map along with ‘you are here’ pointer. Or even a visitors guide. In Lisbon, they are embedding QR codes in the cobbled streets for tourist guides.
  2. Use a QR code to make an art exhibition interactive
    How about letting people take the art from an art show home with them? You could put a QR code below every picture, and link it to a digital scanned copy of each bit of art. And because you can get stats for each code scanned, imagine how motivating it would also be for students to know that people wanted to take their art away with them. This art gallery is using QR codes to link artwork to more detailed background information.
  3. Create a daily treasure hunt with hidden QR codes
    How about having student’s spending time looking for the QR code of the day? You could hide it on campus in a different place every day, to encourage students to discover more of the campus. Or even have it on a student’s T-shirt, to encourage them to engage with each other more, and make it an ever-moving challenge. Although you may not want to go as far as the This Is Dairy Farming website, which has a QR code on the side of a cow.
  4. Create your own ‘frequent flyer’ programme
    How about taking an idea from retailers, and letting students scan a code every time they attend an after-school homework club – and giving them rewards or status badges? A bit like the eCoffeeCard we’re in our coffee shop at Microsoft (every tenth coffee is free). And imagine the extra insight you could get from knowing which students are attending homework clubs etc, and the frequency – and turning it into a positive game for them, rather than a negative ‘taking a register’ experience.
  5. Turn your whole campus into a game
    The Rochester Institute of Technology developed a real-world game, Just Press Play, which engages students right across their campus, and has gamified the whole experience to aim towards delivering academic success. They are doing this by identifying the key factors for student engagement across their academic journey, and then building an experience (in this case using an RFID tag) which encourages the students to get involved in all aspects of their university. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce student attrition and increase engagement with both the academic course and the full university campus experience. You can read more about Just Press Play here

There’s lots of other ideas waiting to be found on the Microsoft Tag blog, or just hop over to the Microsoft Tag IdeaBook

Learn MoreLearn more about Microsoft Tag, and how you can create and use your own


imageHere’s my example of a Tag in use – scan the QR code on the right to get a big pile of technical ebooks free. It took me just 2 minutes to create it and add it to this blog post, from the Microsoft Tag Getting Started page. Imagine if instead of technical books, you used this to give your students a big pack of revision guides!