I have written a number of posts about Quick Response (QR) Codes in the last two years. One of the posts has been one of the most popular posts on Clyde Street.
I have a QR Code for Clyde Street on the front page of the blog.
Recently, I have been interested in Vocaroo’s use of a QR Code to link audio recordings. Earlier this year I used Daqri QR Codes to share augmented information with students.
Perhaps it is my fascination with orienteering that has led me to think QR Codes have real potential to enrich personal learning journeys. I just like the idea that resources can be shared in a minimally intrusive way. (There was a lot of publicity about this example from a building roof top.)
This morning, I was delighted that a Diigo Teacher-Librarian alert took me to Andrew Wilson’s recent paper, QR codes in the library: Are they worth the effort? Analysis of a QR code pilot project.
Andrew notes in the Abstract:
The literature is filled with potential uses for Quick Response (QR) codes in the library setting, but few library QR code projects have publicized usage statistics. A pilot project carried out in the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library of the Harvard College Library sought to determine whether library patrons actually understand and use QR codes.
There is no way to describe the usage statistics as anything but extremely disappointing. None of the three on-line resources were viewed via QR codes more than five times each over the course of the entire semester, and the actual utility of those page views was minimal, at best. Of the three sites, only the “Finding Concert Reviews in Periodicals” appears to have been accessed for use, as the other two research guides had only single page-views, and no recorded time on the sites themselves. Legacy and current usage statistics indicate that the sites are being used, with anywhere from 31 to 53 site visits over each of the past two academic semesters, but once the data is examined at the platform level, mobile usage was negligible in comparison to conventional on-line access.
Despite their ubiquity in the public space, a significant portion of the population appear not to know exactly what they are, or even what the term “QR Code” means. Further, while polls of Harvard’s student population, particularly undergraduates, indicate a high percentage of smartphone usage, there is still a disconnect between the smartphone hardware/software and how they apply to QR Codes.
Much of the argument in favor of QR Codes in the library (or virtually any other setting) comes down to a simple cost/benefit analysis. And in this case, as long as a few simple rules are followed, the cost of employing QR Codes is so low that any benefit derived from them outweighs the minimal effort involved. There is a reason that QR Codes have become so ubiquitous in print advertising, points-of-sale, and other venues: they are so easy to use, and cost so little in terms of resources, time, and money,that despite low acceptance by the public, it is a technology simply too easy to ignore.