QR codes pop up on campus
Quick Response (QR) codes have been posted at JCCC to help campus community members find their way across campus and learn a little bit about the campus itself. In the future, these same codes may be able to help out anywhere and everywhere, providing smart-phone users with a new window into college information.
QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can be read by later-model cellular phones. After a QR image is photographed, a QR code reader (easily downloadable) translates it to alphanumeric code, such as a website address. If the QR code does indeed contain a website address, that website appears on the phone, and the information is immediately available for the mobile user.
Placing QR codes at sites so users may discover more information about an object or place is called “mobile tagging.” The goal of mobile tagging is to make tech-savvy people more connected to their environment.
Barry Bailey, associate professor, library, proposed the idea of mobile tagging at the college. His inspiration came from scanning an historic image of the installation of the acrylic artwork “Three For One,” located on the staircase of the General Education Building (GEB).
“I have walked by that artwork a billion times, and yet I didn’t know anything about it,” Bailey said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool for people to know this information?’”
He enlisted the support of the Educational Technology Center and its director, Vince Miller. Miller helped coordinate the project, working with the many different departments on campus to find where the information resided.
Bailey previously had helped digitize back issues of The Campus Ledger, so he knew there might be some more useful information in the student newspaper. Sure enough, he found an article on the installation of “Three for One.” He then united the information on one web page.
Want to find out how much “Three for One” cost? Or how many coats of acrylic were used in the piece? The info is on the QR-directed site.
(For those with a laptop, the posted signs also provide a shortened URL address that can be typed into a web browser to achieve the same results.)
Bailey’s colleague, Sunita Gandhi, library aide, suggested that mobile tagging might help students and visitors unable to find their way through the maze of connected buildings at JCCC.
Bailey enlisted the talents of Zachary Zahringer, senior educational technology analyst, to design campus maps with QR codes and a simple “Need directions?” (In fact, Zahringer designed all the QR signs on campus so they’d have the same general look and be easily recognizable.)
QR users seeking directions are then directed to a site that allows them to click the name of their destination building, and a second website shows them a map with the path in red.
Since the QR tags are relatively new to campus, Bailey has only anecdotal evidence of how much they’ve helped educate the community. But he does know that, at the beginning of the spring semester, the mobile tagging system was accessed 89 times in one day.
Hanging in the Carlsen Center is another QR-code sign hanging next a promotional banner of David Krug, associate professor, accounting. Visitors and students can connect to the Internet to watch Krug explain on his YouTube video “Why I Teach at JCCC.”
More projects are sure to pop up around campus as QR codes become more prevalent. The college also improved its wireless network, making QR codes easier to use on campus.
“We don’t know what will be next,” Bailey said. “We wanted to get it out, see if people would use it, then go back and reevaluate…but we did want to share things in context.”
Where are the QR codes?
In addition to campus-map posters and QR codes already mentioned, additional locations include:
- First floor, Office and Classroom Building. Tells the story of the artwork “Hare and Bell,” which can be viewed from that window.
- First floor, CLB, next to hydration station. Links to the location of hydration stations across campus to promote the college’s sustainability efforts.
- Front entrance, Carlsen Center. A student project in three-dimensional kite design used the area outside CC to fly them.
- Second floor, LIB. Want to see what registering for classes looked like in 1982? Here’s a hint: Posters, markers and long lines. “The students were packed into a lobby waiting to register – you definitely get the feeling of what it was like back then,” Bailey said.