Black and white and scanned all over

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By Tracy Harris

Little black barcodes dot the Goshen Elementary library, where they’re taped to shelves, doors, desks and even book spines. 


To the naked eye they just look like, well, barcodes. But scanned with a smart phone, the barcodes bring up text, videos and other information.

They’re quick response codes — barcodes that can hold data for 4,300 alpha-numeric characters in one small square.

At Goshen, a QR code near the emergency exit directs students on proper fire emergency protocol. 

The one inside the cover of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” links to an audio review of the book, recorded by a Goshen student.

One class at Goshen, Jaclyn Harbin’s fourth graders, jumped at the opportunity to make “book trailers,” short video reviews of books.

It’s a way to bridge the gap between traditional books and the digital world, said Cindy Smith, Goshen’s library media specialist.

This year, Smith used QR codes as a way to show students around the library — codes explain what section the student is browsing. She also encouraged students to start making more book trailers. Harbin’s class jumped on it.

Students were quick to choose books and find out how to make the trailers.

Harbin’s class uses the 10 new iPads purchased by the school last month, and a program called “Show Me.”

QR codes were created for each trailer and placed inside the book’s cover. 

“There’s so much talk about how technology is changing the way people read,” Smith said. She hopes by combing digital tools with traditional books, students will be more likely to stick with books.

In fact, several of Harbin’s students have conquered the 759-page “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and other similarly hefty reads.

Harbin said the students have only had the iPads for about three weeks and have already found numerous ways to integrate them with the classroom.

Students can use the Show Me application to make videos about anything — they’ve posted ones about math problems and geography in addition to book reviews.

A KET summer multimedia workshop gave Smith the QR code idea. Christi Unker, library media specialist at Oldham County High, also attended the workshop.

Unker said OCHS students are also making book trailers and attaching them to books. It’s a creative way to get more information about a book, she said, and students like the opportunity to use smart devices to watch the trailers. Students are allowed to use their personal devices to scan codes and watch trailers while inside the library. 

English teacher Bobbi Templet had students use an online video slideshow site to create book trailers.

Unker said students were working on their projects outside of class.

“I think those kids really had fun with it,” she said.

Other OCHS classes are getting in on the QR code action, Unker said, like the school newspaper including codes in its monthly publication. Adam Springer, a social studies teacher at OCHS, had students add QR codes to hallway posters about research projects.

Smith said it makes sense to use new smart devices in the classroom.

“We get into the world the kids live in,” she said. “They have technology in their hands all the time.”