How Do You Use QR Codes in Your District?

Like many school districts, we are in our budgeting phase. For our department, that means looking forward to next year to plan for all expenses for the upcoming school year.

Recently, a 40-year old piece of equipment in our copy shop died. It folds and staples all of our programs for musicals, plays, school events and awards. Thousands of programs are folded and stapled each school year. We had to request a new one in our budget for around $6,500.

I bet you are now wondering how this applies to social media. Well . . . during our budget meeting, our chief financial officer brought up an interesting question: “Do you really need paper programs with all of the smartphone and tablet technology? Couldn’t you just put a QR code on the wall with instructions to scan it and download it to their phone?”

What an interesting idea. I took an informal poll of several of our parents. They said they were not ready for only QR codes yet. They still wanted to have that paper copy of the program as a record of their children’s achievements. They also noted that the light from the screens might be distracting in a dark environment and that not everyone has a QR code reader installed on their phone.

But it really made me think. It could be a way to save thousands of dollars in printing costs, as well as help the environment. It would be quite simple to accomplish. Just create a .pdf file of your program and post on your website, copy the URL, and then visit a website that creates QR codes. Print a poster with the QR code and instructions and you are ready to go! The most difficult part would be convincing your students and families it is OK to not have a hard-copy program.

We use QR codes in many of our printed materials, including our district newsletter (view the latest edition). Our survey data indicates our community still relies on our hard-copy newsletter to receive information about the district, so we continue to produce it three times per year. We have not tracked the “scan-through” data for QR codes, but my assumption is that they are not frequently used by our readers.

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in October of 2014 about mobile technology. Their data indicates that 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone and that number is growing every year. On top of that, 42 percent of adults own a tablet computer and 32 percent own an e-reader.

Our own district data is even more telling. We conducted a survey in November of 2014, and our respondents noted that 77 percent own a mobile device (smartphone, tablet or e-reader) – that number grew from 62 percent in 2013. The majority of people in our district and nationwide have the ability to use a QR code reader.

I am hoping to get some feedback from this blog post.

Does your school district use QR codes on a regular basis? How do you track the results?

Would you ever consider eliminating paper copies of event programs (or have you already) and asking families to download them onto their phone or mobile device?