QR Code Utility Extended

I’ve been a big fan and user of QR Codes for quite some time now.  Quickly and easily, they let you post a code that links to a URL or email address or virtually anything that you want to convey to people viewing it.  It makes things so easy for people who might have difficulty hunting and pecking out some of the internet things that we might want to use.  The younger the fingers, the more there’s a chance for a problem.  Scanning and going is so much more efficient.

An ongoing project of mine that uses these codes is my ScoopIT! collection of Ontario Educational Bloggers.  When I find a new education blog, I’ll add it to the ScoopIT! page.  The default is to let ScoopIT! choose an image from the blog or you can add one of your own.  From the very beginning, I used a QR Code to do the deed.  It’s pretty straight forward and I’ve always used this extension to create the QR Code for me.

This morning, I happened upon this Google Spreadsheet created and shared by Tammy Worcester.  In this spreadsheet, you provide a URL or any other text in the left cell.  Using the power in the spreadsheet, it automatically creates a QR Code for you.


Like good computer things, the first time I tried it, it seemed like magic.  So quick, so effortless and it worked.  How did I know?  I took my Smartphone and use it to scan the image and darned if it was right.  Now, for the record, the irony of me taking a picture of a computer screen obviously connected to the internet on another device to check it, is not lost.  I had to do it a few more times to make sure that it stood the acid test and it did.

Then, like you do with any good magician, you ask the question “How did she do that?”

The answer lies in the rightmost cell.  It contains the following instruction.

=if(isblank(A4), “”, image(“https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=150×150&cht=qr&chl=”&A4))

Essentially, it says that if the left column is blank, do nothing.  Otherwise, get an image from this address, pointing to Google APIs.  This is very cool, and certainly worthy of further exploration.  By itself, the spreadsheet generates a QR Code.  But, could you go deeper?

If you cursor down the cells in the rightmost column, you’ll see that the page has 100 rows, each with a similar expression.  In the original, Tammy has done a fill down.  This makes for interesting possibilities.  Instead of using an extension to create a single QR Code, you could add a new code in subsequent rows.  In effect, you could create a little history document of every QR Code you’ve ever made.

Or, how about this?  Create your own table of related topics indexed to their own QR Code.


This does get very interesting.  Other ideas that come to mind…

  • Suppose you’re doing a research project or a scavenger hunt and you want to make sure that time is spent ON the site rather than typing in a URL and finding it;
  • Suppose that you want to have a document with QR Codes for each student blog in your class.  Imagine posting that outside your classroom and your principal walks by and just scans a code to check out a student blog.  What could be easier?

You’d have to do a print screen or capture the part that you want and then send it to your printer.  Pretty slick.  I really like the concept of creating and maintaining a page of multiple QR Codes.

Even if you have no plans for immediately doing something with this, I would suggest that you go to Tammy’s work and make a copy in your own Google Drive.  Chances are, there will come a time that this will be useful.  Tammy has provide a single column layout and a two column layout.  Of course, once you have a copy in your Google Drive, you can customize it to look like and act like anything that you want.  Just make sure that you’re working from a copy in case you do something to break the original logic used to create the codes.

I’d really like this post to generate more ideas as to how you would use a single document to create multiple QR Codes in your classroom.  Please share your ideas below.


OTR Links 10/03/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.