Also, the lack of symmetry has always bugged me…

It is nice to see studies confirming that we’re not all as taken up with shiny new technologies and clever marketing strategies as it sometimes seems – here, a “youth marketing company” finds that, out of a sample 500 college students, 79% could not successfully scan a QR code. Only 19% did not have smart phones, and only 20% weren’t familiar with QR codes, so that leaves a large portion of students with the awareness and ability but lack of inclination to have ever figured them out. I suspect the comment about not wanting to download an app to handle QR codes is a big part of it.

I ran into the study at an interesting time, because I had actually be thinking about whether QR codes might be a useful way to get information out to students. I had been talking to a colleague about the inconsistently updated physical signage about the locations of offices and departments inside the entrances to buildings on our campus, and if there was a technological solution. While tablets or touchscreens would produce electronically updateable content, it occurred to me that people may prefer to have the information on a small screen in their hands that they can browse more privately and carry with them as they try to find their destination. QR codes would be a quick way to direct people to the precise information for their current location.

And hey – maybe it would work. When you look at the details of the study, they asked very generic questions, like “How likely are you to engage with [QR codes] in the future?” Without a reason to engage with a QR code, my answer would be not likely, the same as most of the respondents. And so far, the uses I have seen for QR codes have not been compelling – mostly to direct me to websites trying to sell me things, and I suspect most students have had the same experiences with these codes.

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