Short QR Code FAQ

(A follow-up to the post on QR codes.)

After posting my most recent piece on quick resource (QR) codes, a number of questions reached me via e-mail and the blog’s comment section. So here’s a short FAQ that answers these questions

Q: Are QR codes an app of some kind?

A: No, a QR code is not an app, but it is a new way to connect — without an actual address — to Internet content. A quick resource symbol can appear anywhere, but you are most likely to see one on paper or signs —  non-digital locations — making it easy for an individual to open the app on a smartphone, aim, scan, and connect. Quick resource codes are a bit like bar codes, found everywhere in daily life, except that right now QR codes are less common than bar codes.

Q: Can I control my child’s access to QR codes?     

A: A person reads a QR code with a smartphone app that scans the image. By controlling the apps on a child’s smartphone, you can keep a free reader application from being downloaded.

Q: Do you have to own a smartphone to read a QR code?

A: No there are ways to read quick resource codes on a computer, often using a webcam, but I am not covering that here. Perhaps in another post.

Q: Are there QR code scams?

I have not seen a QR scam, but I expect we will see them. Like everything else in the networked world, the quality of a child’s online profile depends on parents knowing as much as possible about the digital materials that are used on a daily basis. It’s all about helping children to make good choices. Just like we teach children to evaluate other digital content, we will need to teach them (and adults as well) to think about a code’s location and the content it promotes.

Q: Are these sites loaded with advertisements?

A: This depends on the site. Quick resource codes appear on everything from food to clothing to books, promoting these products. Many of the QR codes that appear in magazine are connected to product promotion. Sometimes, however, a QR code on a food product label allows a person to download the nutritional information. Many of the QR codes that I see and download have nothing do to with advertising, appearing instead on museum literature, books, library materials, exhibits, educational sites, etc. The most interesting QR code I have seen recently appeared in an Easter Sunday Methodist church bulletin — allowing attendees to aim their smartphones and instantly connect to the church’s weekly calendar.

Q: Will Children Ever Be Using QR Codes in School?

A: Yes, teachers are already using QR codes. A quick resource code eliminates the need to type long and unwieldy web addresses. More importantly, it takes students directly to specific teaching resources (no opening a browser, typing or searching, or getting distracted with something unrelated).

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