QR QR: Quick Referencing with QR Codes

This is a guest post by Sarah Munks and Nicola HoworthThis is one of the 2013  Teaching and Learning Innovation Projects funded by the Teaching and Learning Institute at the University of Huddersfield (TALI). It is the tenth of 11 guest posts by TALI funded projects.

QR Code


Project aim:

To make use of QR code and mobile technology to provide in-hand, timely, text specific referencing advice for students.


  • Utilise QR code/mobile technology to improve student’s citation and  referencing skills
  • Provide referencing support to students anytime, anywhere
  • Enhance the student learning experience using mobile technology
  • Cross collaboration: liaise with module leaders to ensure key texts are included in the project
  • Cross collaboration: liaise with academic skills tutor to ensure referencing and citation information is accurate
  • To reach those student who may be unwilling to ask for help
  • Promote QR codes as a tool for learning

The project is based at our campus library in Barnsley and is investigating the willingness of students’ use of mobile and QR code technology to access learning support. Recent research has suggested that the rise in use of mobile technology is resulting in more and more learning taking place outside the traditional classroom or lecture theatre (Solvberg & Rismark, 2012) and the increase in and availability of mobile devices and developments in technology (smartphones, tablets, portable music players etc) allow users to readily and easily access the internet or download applications (Walsh, 2012).

Students want more choice with regards to when and how they learn and increasingly want to be able to use their own mobile device to access teaching and learning materials. Using QR Codes is an ideal way of utilising user owned mobile technology to engage and support learners. As a result a short survey was conducted at the campus and revealed 66% of respondents owned a smart phone, and 68% of these students would use it to access help with referencing which started the project.

Two courses were identified within the School of Education and Professional Development but with a different demographic of students for each course. The project hopes to identify if students on a particular course and part of a particular demographic were more or less likely to use mobile technology to access learning support. A reading list from a PGCE in-service module and Early Years BA (Hons) module were utilised and a blog entry for each title on the reading lists was created. The blog entry advises students how to produce an in-text citation and reference using our institutions Harvard referencing guide. QR codes were then produced linking to each of the blog entries and attached to each text on the reading lists with text advising students what the code was for. A decision was made early on to promote the QR codes to one group of students and leave the other to their own devices with a view of seeing if promotional activities make a difference with regards to usage.

Current Work:

During December we promoted the QR codes in referencing sessions delivered to the PGCE cohort.

In February we ran a workshop at the JISC RC NW + YH HE Conference that gave an overview of the project and gave attendees the opportunity to try out QR and other mobile technologies for themselves.

During March we ran an exit survey to gauge the level of awareness of QR technology amongst our student population. The results are being reviewed.

In March we presented at LILAC (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference).This was in ‘TeachMeet’ format. We also had an informal meeting with Sue Clarkson in the School of Art, Design and Architecture to advise on the use of QR codes for a small scale project she was considering.

The project is still ongoing and the next steps are to arrange focus groups with students to gain qualitative feedback. In particular the usefulness of delivering advice/support using QR codes and mobile technology, the analytics of hits/views to the blog posts will also be reviewed.


Solvberg, A., and Rismark, M. (2012) ‘Learning spaces in mobile learning environments’. Active Learning in Higher Education. 13 (1), pp.23-33.



About talintuoh

Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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