@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • QR Codes by Charlotte Dixon #qrcode #kidsperspective

    September 19th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Recently, I was in a meeting when it was explained they (a council) were choosing not to use QR Codes as ‘we’ve been told it’s a passing phase’.  I soon found myself going into Pro-QR Code mode.  Why?  Because while I recognize they are not for everyone, it was clear the ‘techy’ people who this particular council were speaking to didn’t know about them so felt scare-tactics worked best.  This got me thinking that maybe all these great QR Code* website and blogs were talking over the average person and maybe assuming they knew more than they did.

    This blog is going to be a bit different as when I explained to my daughter Charlotte (9) what I was doing on a Sunday she nonchalantly started telling me what she knows about QR Codes.   Charlotte agreed to write the blog and cover various industries (from publishing, museums, colleges and universities and everything in between).

    What are QR Codes ?
    Quick Response codes.  It’s the black and white squares you see on soda cans, advertising, and things like that.  My mom has one on her business card.  You can put them anywhere.

    What do they do?
    Depends really.  My mom’s goes to her website, but we went to Attingham Park where the codes took us to a YouTube video that showed more information on certain objects.  There was also one that a guy put on his mom’s gravestone!

    How do they work?
    You need to download a QR reader to your phone and you have to have a ‘Smartphone,’ one that goes to a website or has Internet Connection.  You launch the app and it’ll come up with a screen like you’re taking a picture but instead of taking a picture, you scan the QR code.  When it scans, it’ll beep or click and take you to where the code was told to go (YouTube, website, email, etc).


    What’s the problems with them?

    • When we were in France, we saw some down in the Metro but we couldn’t get a signal to work so they need to be used where there is a connection.
    • Some people might not understand what they are for. Maybe there should be instructions or someone to explain them if its in a museums or gallery.  But the more they are used, the more people will understand them like the iPad and Smart-phones.
    • It doesn’t allow people without Smartphones to see the additional information but maybe they can do the same thing they do with audio guides and loan out smart-phones.

    Do you see a future for QR Codes?
    It’s going to be a few years but they are already producing printers that produce 3d objects so it’s going to be another two years and then QR codes might be replaced with better technology.

    I tweeted (or I asked my mom to tweet):
    Why do you use QR Codes? And Do you see them in the future?

    @stujallen I ve only used a few mainly book related

    @museumzombie We use them for self guided tours. It has an audio and text that expands on the exhibit itself. We have directions on each QR code panel. I think most people that don’t “get it” don’t even really notice that they are there.

    @NHM_MusMgr Saw QR codes being trialled @NMNH for education programmes bring tested for the new ‘Learning Center’ opening later this they were being used to link to specimen information once scanned so the specimens needed no label (just a QR code)

    @StevenHeywood I’d love to use them to provide in-library links to reader support & user education material

    @PeoplesMuseum Thinking ‘permanent but removable’ codes for new museum. So don’t seem temp or afterthought, but flexible if/when QR outmoded…

    @dgr_dgr qr codes are the most irritating and annoying intention ever! They don’t work on all phones or on all networks. You have to try to figure out if it’s going to work for you or not!

    Conclusion (from Mar):
    QR Codes are a hot topic at the moment and I can see where ‘management’ are wondering if they are worth the investment or if they will be a passing phase.

    I believe QR Codes are here to stay.  Will it be replaced?  Of course. Anyone who says otherwise I would be very cautious about.  But are they worth the investment?  Absolutely.  The key question should be not if they should be adopted, but where and how is best practice in your environment.

    CharlotteCharlotte is my 9 year old daughter who is in Year 5. She has a science blog at
    Science for Citizens and provides book reviews for Scholastic Book Club for Kids (amongst other book reviews).  She owns a bearded dragon named Lizzie and 2 rabbits named Snowflake and Rosie (and she has fish but we gave up naming them after one too many flushes). 

    *For the purpose of this blog, we’re strictly talking QR Code, but recongize MS Tags and other emerging technologies are available.

    Tags: ,

9 responses to “QR Codes by Charlotte Dixon #qrcode #kidsperspective” RSS icon

  • Excellent blog post Charlotte. Well done.

    I was at a recent ‘Banned Books’ exhibition at the National Library of Scotland, and they were using QR Codes on the side of exhibition cases to link to webpages telling you more about the books on display, offering extracts etc.

    An ingenious idea, as are QR Codes themselves. Small and unobtrusive, they’re perfect for today’s ‘always in a rush’ society. One quick scan and you’re off.

    A ‘passing phase’? No way, they’re here to stay, but like you say Charlotte, many people don’t know what QR Codes are, and they need to be taught. Thankfully they’re easy peasy to learn.

  • Wonderful post Charlotte I can see them being great us in museums for people that want more information on a certain item or group of items all the best stu

  • Good article, congratulations Charlotte.

    The debate on whether QR codes are useful boils down to “does it solve a particular issue more elegantly than other solutions?” And it does. Because input methods on phones are still problematic. When I’m inputting on my smartphone via the keyboard, small keys / big thumbs = errors.

    So if you have information that is of the best use to me on my phone, (contact details) or while I’m on the move (information services), a QR code is the most practical way for me to input it. Imagine at a train station there is a sign saying “To download this map, go to http://somerandomcouncil.gov.uk/maps/trainmap/2011_Map_Trains.pdf“. It would take me half a day to type that into a browser on my phone. However, if the link is in a QR code, I can scan it and click it in seconds, or save it if I can’t get signal.

    So the best practice question for a council should be “is this a situation where you’d want to provide information to people on the move?” If the answer is no, then don’t use a QR code. But if it’s yes, then a QR code is currently the most elegant solution to that problem.

  • I see QR Codes as being quite handy for most people. It’s more intuitive to take a picture of or scan a code than to type in a URL. The applications for codes seem to be enormous from comparison shopping while in the store to linking to tours of exhibits in museums, links to websites as mentioned above.

    I hope that this technology is pushed down to ordinary mobile phones and perhaps adapted so that perhaps more limited functionality can reach a broader number of people…perhaps using SMS. A “Twitterized” version, if you will. As the adoption of these codes (or the technology that replaces them) is becoming increasingly widespread, I also tend to agree with dgr_dgr…Standardization across platforms and networks is the key. That will dictate how and whether they are used in the future.

    Thanks for a well written article, Charlotte!

  • I help a small theatre and they are starting to use QR codes if only in a rudimentary way to link to the website.

    The front of the theatre where the qr codes are displayed does not have good coverage so it doesn’t really work, if anything it becomes more frustrating and off putting for customers.

    We had an installation in the theatre for the poetry festival and this too relied partly on qr codes, The reception is no better indoors, so this part of the exhibit did not work that well.

    They are great in concept but in the rest of the UK’s towns where 3G is still a pipe dream QR codes are unlikely to catch on. By the time the phones are updated it feels like QR codes will have moved onto something else.

  • Charlotte Rocks!!!! Mar, you need to take Charlotte to work and have her explain it to them. 😉 She’s one smart young lady.

  • Thanks Charlotte for explaining it so clearly. I really wasn’t clear what their purpose was; perhaps I haven’t been to a venue that uses them well!

  • I’m working with Wikipedia on a project called QRpedia. The idea is to put QR codes on museum exhibits. When scanned, the code takes the visitor to the Wikipedia page about that article.

    We use some smart technology to make sure the visitor sees the article in their own language. So, if they’re a visitor who doesn’t speak English, they can still understand what the exhibit is about.

    I see a bright future for QR codes in 2012.

  • Hey Charlotte, great post!

    Regarding your Paris metro experience; most QR code readers will let you save a code and use it when you have a signal again. After all, if there’s a URL on the poster, you can’t use that underground, either!

    Anyway, haven’t you got a dog, yet? You need to pester more! 😉

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