Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Quick Response (QR) Codes

Technology in Education Column

by Dr Sandra Bassendowski

The Technology in Education column is written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, who is a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important feature for the CJNI – this column is focused on how technology can be used in nursing education and by nurses in general. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Saskatchewan for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.


A couple of years ago, I heard about Quick Response (QR) Codes from a graduate nursing student who thought they might have possibilities for use in nursing education. I read a bit about the Codes at that time but could not decide where or how I could incorporate them in my teaching and learning- until now! QR-Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can contain any alphanumeric text and often feature URLs that direct users through a process known as mobile tagging to sites where they can learn about an object, information, or place (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2009). Look around – and you will see QR-Codes in posters, menus, newspapers, business cards, billboards, and buildings, inviting you to scan and uncover the encoded information. You need to have a reader app installed on your phone but the good news is that there are several free QR reader apps.

So- how can QR-Codes be used in nursing education? The Codes “support experiential learning, bringing scholarship out of the classroom and into physical experience. They offer expanded pedagogical value in exercises that draw students into creating and contributing content…” (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, What are the Implications for Teaching and Learning, ¶1). Pattar (2011) suggests that educators can create QR-Codes for course resources and embed QR-Codes into slides, course material, handouts, syllabus documents, quizzes, or class downloads. In addition, educators can use QR-Codes to solicit student feedback, access RSS feeds, provide details about course assignments, or embed course notes in a QR-Code. In specific nursing education projects, students could research information about local health care organizations or institutions, write up what they have learned as part of co-creation of content, generate QR-Codes for their research, and compile a network of Codes for all students to access as part of course content. Ramsden (2008) suggests that QR-Codes can be used to gather formative feedback during a presentation or class. For instance, two QR codes can be provided to students to answer a closed (yes/no) question. To do this, students simply scan the appropriate QR code and this activity sends a message to the educator via a previously set-up web page. If required, the students could then follow up using a text message to answer an open-ended question. This method offers advantages as it quantifies the feedback and all the replies are immediate and anonymous. In clinical, educators could use the Codes to link to the policy/procedure manual, a patient teaching poster, or another site with additional information. Try installing one of the QR-Code reader apps on your phone or handheld device, scan the Code embedded in this paragraph, and it should take you to my website:

If you are interested in trying to include QR-Codes in your teaching, try the following steps to include a QR-Code into your PowerPoint presentations: Publish your specific course notes on the Web, cut and paste the URL for your notes into the appropriate QR-Code generator, and click on generate. The URL will convert to a QR Code; save this image to your computer and insert the QR-Code into your PowerPoint presentation. “The idea of linking spaces to information is not new, but QR codes combine simple creation with easy access to QR code readers. As a result, QR codes might kick-start widespread thinking and innovation around information connected to locations and objects” (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, Why is it Significant? ¶1;Law & So, 2010). Try to think about ways that you could include QR-Codes into your teaching environment. Given the possibilities these black-and-white squares of data present, they could revolutionize your instructional strategies!

Do you have any questions about QR-Codes? (Scan the appropriate QR-Code below with the reader app). If yes, send an email to me at with your question(s)…


EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009). 7 things you should know about…QR Codes. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from

Law, C., & So, S. (2010). QR Codes in education. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 3(1), 85-100. Retrieved from

Pattar, S. (2011). 5 Uses of QR Codes in the Classroom. Retrieved from

Ramsden, A. (2008). The use of QR codes in Education: A getting started guide for academics. Working Paper. University of Bath. Retrieved from


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