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QR codes & Moodle – a teacher’s perspective

Why would a course designer or teacher want to include a QR code into a Moodle course?  After all, the course menu and blocks already have clickable text and image links to resources and activities.  I have wedged QR codes into LMS courses for different reasons with varying degrees of success as a blended learning instructor.  Before I discuss the reasons for using QR codes in Moodle, relevant terms and information are explained.


Moodle is a learning management system that allows for the development and hosting of digital courses that can include a wide array of customizable activities and resources, depending on the course developer and designer.


This is an acronym for Bring Your Own Technology is also referred to as Bring Your Own Device B.Y.O.D..  B.Y.O.T. refers to a practice that encourages learners to bring a smart mobile to blended learning classes. Learners are encouraged to link to digital activities and resources based on learning requirements by their instructors.

QR codes

Quick Response Codes were developed for the Japanese automobile industry to streamline the production process through more accurate parts tracking. A QR code is a square shaped object that has a unique arrangement of squares on a contrasting background. Tools such as the QR Code Generator, allow you to colour QR codes or incorporate recognizable icons with watermarks.  Each QR code pattern is read by a QR code reader software (app) on a digital camera or web camera. QR code readers are freely available and ready to use on any device with a camera. Products from event tickets to medical supplies include a QR code that link to additional information such as coupons, directions, forms, warning messages or videos.

QR codes allow learners with mobile devices quick access to digital resources.  These digital resources can include interactive activities, web pages, text documents, email addresses, social media, PDF documents, images, videos, audio files, virtual business cards, online app providers and more.

Generating a QR code

There are several tools that are available online that can be used to create QR codes that link to resources and activities that you specify.  These are available in the resource links section at the bottom of this post.   I have posted a quick How To sheet for newbies to generate a QR Code with QR stuff.  The QR code is published as a simple image.

Placement of QR codes into a Moodle course

In a Moodle course QR codes can be positioned in many places as an image.  This allows a designer to place it in the description or header/footer sections of Assignments, Chats, Checklists, Choice, Database, Forum, Glossary, Hot Potatoes, Millionaire, HangMan, Crossword, Cryptex, Nanogong, Questionnaires, Quiz, SCORM package, Skype, Wiki, Book, File, Page, and URL modules.

They can also be included as an integral part of an Assignment, Choice, Database, Forum, Glossary, Hot Potatoes, Quiz, SCORM, Wiki, Book, File, Folder, Label and Page Moodle features.


Reasons for QR codes in Moodle

I have included QR codes into my blended learning courses for the following reasons:

  • to foster a B.Y.O.T. environment in the blended learning classroom
  • to efficiently provide access to mobile apps and their online stores
  • to promote “gamification” in the classroom
  • to share contact information
  • to allow students to share their work via a QR code


Fostering B.Y.O.T.

Many educators may be feeling the pressure of moving towards B.Y.O.T. facilitation from students and their administrators. Administrators cite budgetary advantages and students welcome engaging activities that positively disrupt traditional lessons.    Due to financial restrictions, most classrooms do not have student workstations. Learners can access digital resources in these teaching areas. That is if the Wi-Fi cooperates.

If there are workstations in the classroom, they require user authentication that cause a delay.  At times instructors may want the students to engage with a learning object for a minute, the authentication delay can interrupt the flow of the lesson.    For this reason, providing a QR code on the projected screen allows learners with mobile devices the ability to participate in a timely activity or access a relevant resource and then continue with the lesson without disrupting the session’s momentum.

Encourage App usage in the classroom

I know many of you are cringing right now.  Mobile phones in the class can often lead to distraction and delay. I agree, however, sometimes an app can enhance the possibility of student comprehension. An example of an app that may provide engaging simulations is the Phet HTML5 simulations for science students app. Students can scan the QR code, use the app activity and put down their devices once the activity is complete.  I know this takes a lot of supervision on the part of the instructor and student discipline, but I have found that short targeted activities are worth the headache.

To access and quickly install apps on their devices, a well-positioned QR code can efficiently direct students’ devices to an appropriate app store link. Learners can install the app on their devices and continue their learning.

Promote Gamification

Online educational games are commonplace in contemporary classrooms. If students have their mobile devices and the instructor projects a QR code on the front screen, students can scan the QR code and quickly be linked to the doorway to a group or an individual game. Recently, I have been linking my students to SpellingCity, Kahoot and Quizlet Live games to encourage vocabulary and spelling acquisition.

To share contact information

At the beginning of each term, informing learners of your contact details is often a waste of time since it is provided on the course home page or on a paper sheet.  vCards offer the you the opportunity to get your information into your students’ digital contact lists in a few seconds.  vCards can be shared through a QR code. vCards contain contact information, including your title, phone numbers, office hours and email addresses. This information can be added to students’ contacts lists on various services.

Student Peer sharing

A few years ago, I assigned course participants the task of introducing themselves with a Voki. A Voki is a customized talking digital character.  Over seventy students uploaded their work to a Moodle Page I called the Wall of Voki. As you can imagine, it took a long time to upload or it usually timed out before the page was complete.  For peer sharing that involve video, animation or larger files, I require students to upload a QR code into a common sharing page so that the viewers can access projects with a QR code reader.


Final thoughts

This post is simply based on my teaching experience, there are scores of blog posts, articles and other media recommend different ways of incorporating QR codes into instruction. I think that using QR codes in a Moodle course is a bit of a stretch in some cases but it just may be one way of moving your blended learning class forward into a more  B.Y.O.T. model.

I have not mentioned any QR code plug ins  as I have not used them to this point.


Create Quick Response (QR) codes quickly How To worksheet, https://bit.ly/2oUkevG

Phet Interactive Simulations https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/by-device/ipad-tablet

QR Code Reader for Windows (workstation/desktop) http://www.codetwo.com/freeware/qr-code-desktop-reader

QR Code Reader for Macintosh (Desktop/laptop) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qr-journal/id483820530?mt=12

QR Code Reader Microsoft https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/apps/qr-code-reader/9wzdncrfj1s9

QR Code Reader Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.scan.android.client&hl=en

QR Code Reader IPhone   https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/qr-reader-for-iphone/id368494609?mt=8

goQR’s QR code generator http://goqr.me

QR Code Generator’s QR code generatohttp://www.qr-code-generator.com

QR Stuff’s QR code generatohttp://www.qrstuff.com

Voki http://www.voki.com


John Allan

John Allan

John is a Canadian who writes about learning object development and online facilitation from a teacher's perspective.

3 thoughts on “QR codes & Moodle – a teacher’s perspective

  • A comment from ElearningWorld reader Emma Hanson:
    I was using the QR generator you mentioned on your page here.
    I really enjoyed working with goqr.me in the past, but I recently found a new one that is more visually appealing, has a lot of customization options, and is totally free: https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/free-qr-code-generator/

    It allows you to create your own personalized QR code (you can choose the color, add a frame and even add the logo of your company and/or social networks), which I think is awesome.

    I believe that it would be a great addition to your page, I’m sure your readers will appreciate it.

  • Interesting post John.
    I have a colleague who uses QR codes a lot, but must admit I have used them quite rarely.
    I’ve never managed to find a ‘killer’ reason to do so.
    But I must admit, the idea of using them for a vCard is interesting.
    I just gave the keynote at the first Moodle Moot in the Philippines in Manila.
    Maybe I could have used a QR code to share my vCard at the end of the presentation?
    Will investigate this idea… !

    • The fit is not perfect. That is why I said that I wedged QR codes into my LMS courses. Let me know how the Vcards go.

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