When quick response codes didn’t do the trick

Dirk Burkhardt
Gabrielle Walcott-Bedeau
Kazzara Raeburn
Mark Clunes
Soort article
Learning objectives,
QR codes,
Self-directed learning,
Verscheen in

Medical education programs in the United States or Canada comply with the Liaison Committee on medical education standards to ensure their graduates provide proficient medical care. One standard includes student development as a lifelong learner. The competency of lifelong learning is developed through self-directed activities such as students evaluating their learning objectives and resources without external help.

Quick response (QR) codes were the technological tools introduced in a traditional medical institution to enhance students’ self-directed initiative to tap resources. Relevant lecture objectives and other information such as supplemental discipline content, reading assignments and web-based link resources were embedded into codes and ‘pasted’ onto all pages of their course PDF handouts. It was anticipated that most students had access to smart phones to conveniently scan the codes and retrieve the information.

However, an in-class survey conducted showed that only 30% of the students found the QR codes useful. Further questioning revealed that some students just didn’t know how to use the codes or didn’t think the information embedded was worth the effort to decrypt. Although students were tech-savvy in the social and entertainment realms, they were not adept in the use of technology for educational purposes.

QR codes presented several theoretical, pedagogical advantages to enhance experiential and self-directed learning. However, implementation among students, in a traditional classroom, required prior instructions on usage. Student feedback was also imperative when introducing novel, innovative tools like QR codes.


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