Reading QR Codes Inside Your Chromebook Camera

Firstly, a milestone announcement.  As of 9/13/21, my YouTube Channel hit 217,855 views; Edtech Elixirs is at 182,146 views.  That means collectively, I have just crossed over the 400,000 mark! Thanks to everyone who has ever read a blog entry or watched a video of mine. 

Back to the topic at hand!  I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that QR codes, particularly in education, may be a ship that already sailed.     However, I think there is still life left in them, and apparently I’m not alone.  The headline of a recent New York Times article (1/21/21) proclaims “Actually, QR Codes Never Went Away,” and as Lora Kelley points out, the pandemic actually increased QR Code usage (for example, it’s highly likely that at least one restaurant you frequent asks you to scan the QR Code to view its menu).  Kelley finishes the article talking to some educators, including a teacher who (still!) distributes the school newspaper via QR Code.

I’ve always been a fan of QR Codes.  (You can see some Edtech Elixirs entries highlighting them over the years.) With a snap of a phone camera, you can easily get to a URL (the most common usage), add a contact to your phone, or simply read text “hidden” inside the code.  While the most basic learning management system can do much of the same, there’s something to be said for the kinesthetic nature of having students move around a room snapping QR Codes, or the “self-service” function of going to a poster or table sign and getting your digital hands on a popular handout without having to search for it in a LMS.  And the same reasons that a restaurant may have you snap a QR Code with your phone instead of giving you a menu may serve you well in a classroom too: it quickly gets you to what you need, it saves you paper, and is more hygienic. 

Of course, Chromebooks are the ubiquitous device in many classrooms, not mobile phones.  There have been Chrome extensions for years that would allow you to use a Chromebook to read a QR Code, or even websites like The QR Code Generator that give you that functionality without installing anything.  (You can also make QR Codes from the same site.)  Now, a recent upgrade in the ChromeOS has made it even easier.  The QR Code reader is built into the Camera app, in a tiny button in the upper right of the interface.

Clicking this button creates a target box for you to aim at the QR Code, and the Chromebook takes you from there.  This feature should be available on your Chromebook if you have ChromeOS version 89 or higher.  Give it a try!

Be sure to check out the following links for more information:

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