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Teaching with QR, AR, and VR

posted Apr 14, 2017, 6:42 AM by Mason Mason   [ updated May 29, 2017, 5:19 PM ]

Teaching with QR, AR, and VR

Technology allows educators to transform teaching and learning by engaging and empowering students in ways previously inconceivable. In recent years, software has been advancing exponentially allowing educators to facilitate and inspire creativity, collaboration, communication, and creativity skills. I know whenever I see advancements in technology, the first thing that crosses my mind is how can this be used in the education space. And educators are notorious for hijacking new technologies to improve student outcomes.

Three of those technologies include QR, AR, and VR. Let me introduce you to each technology and five ways educators can use them to increase the rigor and relevance in the classroom.

Quick Response (QR) Codes are similar to barcodes. These unique square patterns can be read by the camera on a mobile device or tablet using a QR Code reading application to direct students to a website, video, multimedia presentation, and so much more.

  1. Teachers can use QR Codes in station rotations. At each station, there is a QR Code that directs students to the activity and/or resources for that station. To create a CR Code, educators can find their favorite QR Code generator and print the codes out on cardstock.

  2. Teachers can put QR Codes on homework, syllabi, and/or newsletters to direct students and parents to additional resources, a class website, or a video reteaching a skill.

  3. Librarians can put QR Codes in books to direct students to videos of book talks created by other students so students can see if they want to check out certain books.

  4. Teachers can use a QR Code to take attendance using a Google Form. The form requires students to be logged into their G Suite for Education account and timestamps the submission and creates a spreadsheet so teachers can quickly take attendance.

  5. Plickers (paper clickers) uses QR Codes as a response system for educators not in a one-to-one environment. Students are assigned a Plicker card, and when the teacher is formatively or summatively assessing the class, students use the paper clicker to answer the questions.

Augmented Reality (AR) uses the camera on a mobile device or tablet to add an augmented layer on top of the real layer visible on the device's screen. Pokémon Go is a prime example of AR in action.

  1. Aurasma ( is my favorite way of bringing AR into the classroom. As an English teacher, I made the cover of To Kill a Mockingbird a trigger image, and when students scanned the cover with the camera of their device using the Aurasma app, a video of Gregory Peck began talking about the novel.

  2. I have seen yearbook students and teachers add trigger images in the yearbook to bring photos to life and add additional content for events that happened after the yearbook was published.

  3. Another way I have seen teachers use AR is through biography walls for students and teachers. The wall contains the photos of every student in the class (or every teacher in the school) and when students and/or guest use their devices to scan the images it triggers a video of the subject introducing and telling more about themselves.

  4. AR is great for blended learning combining the analog with the digital. Teachers can bring traditional flash cards to life by making each one a trigger image that comes to life by solving a problem or explaining a concept when scanned by a device.

  5. And one of the coolest ways I’ve seen AR being used is at colleges and universities. Professors are using AR to bring skeletons to “life” showing the beating heart within or the raising and lowering of the lungs.

    Virtual Reality (VR) immerses students into surroundings in which they may not otherwise be able to visit, and allows them to experience settings in new and different ways. This is often accomplished using a VR headset and the mobile device a student already owns, but can easily to accomplished with a similar effect using just the mobile device or a tablet.

  1. My favorite, and one of the easiest ways, to introduce virtual reality is through Nearpod ( and its Nearpod VR Field Trips. Powered by 360° Cities, there are thousands of locations available from Los Angeles to New York, London to Shanghai, and beyond.

  2. Discovery Education often offers virtual events connecting teachers and students with experts from around the world to extend learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. These events may not be as immersive; however, they are still very valuable experiences because students can be more globally connected without leaving the classroom.

  3. Even YouTube, the world’s largest repository of videos, contains 360° videos. As an English teacher, I would immerse the students in the setting of our current reading selections. It is one thing to read about a place, and another thing completely to get a more accurate depiction of a locale through VR.

  4. VR definitely makes sense for history and geography teachers as they discuss the significance of terrain and topography. Virtual reality truly allows them to bring their curriculum to life and make it even more relevant for students.

  5. Often overlooked is Google Street View through Google Maps and they now even offer Museum Views so that students can see famous works of art in museums around the world through virtual tours.

These are just a few ways to use QR, AR, and VR in education to help transform teaching and learning to engage, enrich, and enhance students’ learning experiences. Give them a try and let me know some other ways you are enhancing pedagogy with these and other digital resources.