QR codes on campus: why don't they work?

QR codes on campus: why don't they work?

Summary: QR codes have been used in various ways across university campuses. Why have they not become popular?


QR code use at university have made little more than a limp entry within academic institutions.

In theory, QR codes could be used as a medium for many applications in academic learning. It could promote on-the-spot learning and access to resources, as well as becoming a method for more interactive activities. It could also be an alternative way to access learning materials rather than via manual text entry. However, the emergence of mobile tagging technology has seemingly done little to impress students.

(Source: Flickr)

See also: Gallery -- Bizarre QR code use

A study conducted by Archrival suggested that 75% of students on 24 U.S campuses are not interested in scanning or utilizing QR codes.

81% of the students interviewed said they owned a smartphone, with the iPhone the most popular at 42%. Android models came in second with 33% of users, Blackberrys claimed 22.6%, and Windows models trailed at the back of the pack with a mere 1.9% of ownership.

Whilst the majority knew what QR codes are, only 21.5% were able to scan one when prompted. Some students tried but failed; others did not want to download required applications, and others complained it took too long.

Although this study's findings have to be assessed in relation to the low sample range, it could be interesting to conduct it with a larger focus group.

58.1% stated they would be unlikely to normally scan a QR code. Why?

Motivational factors

Many times I have scanned a QR code, it has been for no real benefit. If a student is going to take the time to draw out their mobile phone, unlock, open the software, then scan -- there needs to be some kind of incentive involved.

If academic institutions begin to filter in promotional use of mobile tagging, for example 20% discounts on coffee in library cafe, perhaps it would make the consistent use of QR codes in academic activities more appealing to students.

Why don't QR codes appeal?

There are many reasons why mobile tagging doesn't appeal to students for everyday use:

  • Many students may own a smartphone, but not all know what a QR code is, or willing to download the software necessary to scan.
  • Lighting conditions: Depending on what kind of camera phone you have, the quality of light may not be good enough to scan properly.
  • Time intensive: A common complaint is that it takes too much effort to scan QR codes. Taking out a phone, unlocking, going to an application, then scanning -- often resulting in a URL that could have been typed in directly with less effort.
  • Underwhelming results: QR codes often result in a single line of text or a web link, which don't appeal in relation to the effort required to scan.
  • Mobile device features: Few mobile devices can be considered QR friendly. If mobile devices included an automatic scanning system within their camera components, then as less effort would be required, scanning frequency may increase.

Use of QR codes may be slowly increasing over time, but assuming every student is willing or has the means to access mobile tagging will potentially cause its downfall. If QR codes are to become less of a novelty and establish their reputation as a desirable marketing tool across campus grounds, then they need to be used more effectively.

QR codes should no longer be used across campus 'just for the sake of using them' and need to become content-specific, and give users a reason to want to implement them.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • RE: QR codes on campus: why don't they work?

    Android comes with a reader built in (at least on my Sensation, it was pre-installed), so it isn't difficult to scan a QR code. That said, it is the payoff that is important.

    I used it in a local bookshop to download their Oyo reader app, which was certainly quick and easy.

    Meat producers in Germany are starting to use it for product quality information (scan the code and see the origin and quality certificates for that piece of meat).
  • RE: QR codes on campus: why don't they work?

    Red Laser on my iPhone decodes them uncannily fast. I swear they're done before I've even thought of pointing the camera near them!

    I agree there has to be a better reason for people to make the effort. Incentive is everything. The perceived payoff on QR codes has not been there.<br><br>I think they're perceived as ugly looking shortcuts to potentially boring URLs.<br><br>At least with text based URLs, a person can mentally judge whether it's worth following. QR codes are impenetrable blobs until decoded, so they may or not be worth the trouble.<br><br>The meat producers in Germany is a interesting use, sort of like a higher density product barcode, which is of course exactly what a QR code is (2D vs 1D).
  • RE: QR codes on campus: why don't they work?

    Quickercity is launching in Chicago's Wrigleyville on 2/5/12, aka Super Bowl Sunday. This event will mark the proverbial "tipping point" for QR in this country. Mark. My. Words.

    The Qr revolution is coming and QuickeRcity is its Paul Revere...
  • RE: QR codes on campus: why don't they work?

    Ah yes, using a limited (and actually biased) set of figures and applying them to ALL Universities. Is that reporting? A (very) quick bit of research would have unearthed this response: http://www.2d-barcodestrategy.com/2011/12/qr-codes-on-campus-reply.html from a very good and unbiased source on the subject.

    Must do better.
  • ScanMySticker.com for College Campuses will make QR codes very popular!

    There is a new web site called <a href="http://www.ScanMySticker.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.ScanMySticker.com</a>. This web site allows college students to sign-up for a free membership that will provide them their own personal QR code. They receive a bunch free stickers with their personal QR code stamped on them. <br><br>The student can then place them anywhere they want including their student ID, blouse, jacket, jeans, dorm room door, cell phone, car etc. When their sticker is scanned by a fellow student it is connected to their Scan My Sticker profile page with their contact information including their facebook page address, twitter address, etc. The student can publish as much as they want about themselves on their profile including an outgoing message that can be changed anytime. It is a great way to quickly be able to get someones contact information and store it in the student's smart phone. <br><br>Another great feature is that there are mobile coupon links on the profile pages for local college town merchants giving great deals on their items. Discounts on food, school supply, etc. A really cool idea using QR codes, social media and mobile coupons. Scan My Sticker's tag line is "A Unique Social Experience." <br><br>My understanding is that Scan My Sticker is looking for students who want to be College Campus Coordinators and promote the program to fellow students, and school organizations like fraternities and sororities. The Campus Coordinator generates revenues by selling mobile advertising space to the local merchants. It gives the student a chance to make some money while in college and looks great on the resume. Wow what a great idea!! Check them out. www.scanmysticker.com! I did and I love the idea.
  • But it's so harddddddddddddd.............

    Let's see. One of the main issues for the non-acceptance of QR codes on campus is that it takes too much efort. First they have to take out their phone, unlock it, start an application and then scan the QR code so entering a URL is easier.
    But, wouldn't the student have to take out their phone, unlock it, start up a browser (application) and then manually enter the URL? So the student has to do the first 3 steps whether they scan a QR code or enter a URL manually.
  • Poor look

    Who would care to look on poor looking QR code?
    You only get someone to scan QR code only when the code is somehow
    interesting. ??Personally I use iQR codes application
    (http://iqr.hrubasko.com/) with a predefined graphic styles. People
    like when the code looks awesome.
  • Poor look

    Who would care to look on poor looking QR code?
    You only get someone to scan QR code only when the code is somehow
    interesting. ??Personally I use iQR codes application
    (http://iqr.hrubasko.com/) with a predefined graphic styles. People
    like when the code looks awesome.