Still Questioning QR

I’m not sold on QR codes.


There has been a lot of talk about the use of QR codes in schools.  From admissions to marketing to communication to academics everyone has an idea for these confusing little squares with their magical properties.


My issue with QR codes is basically the work that needs to go in to interact with them and the reward from doing so.  Before I go any further let me say that I have seen some great uses for them such as airline boarding passes, reward cards and the like, but for the most part does the average person really know or understand what these codes do and is it worth the time to educated them.

Ernest Koe said it best in “QR Codes are Stupid” when he said:

I am not convinced users want to interact with an over-glorified barcode; I don’t look at a QR code and think, “Wow! I feel so moved to take out my phone, turn on the camera, snap a picture and see what happens.”

The point Ernest makes is one of the biggest issues I have with QR codes. In order to find out what the secret of the code is I need to have to a smartphone, need to have downloaded a QR reader and make sure I have an Internet connection (becoming much less of an issue) all to be taken to information that could have been listed in any URL.


Now maybe in the future Apple or Google might build QR recognition software into the iOS or Android OS so that people don’t need to worry about whether they have a reader on their smartphones to interact with the codes, but until then it seems like work.

Enter Microsoft!

When I was away this summer on vacation I had a USA Today delivered to my door each morning and since it was vacation I would take a moment to flip through the pages while drinking my morning coffee (how analog of me I know). When I flipped the paper over and just below the fold I saw what looked like a very colorful QR code.  I took out my iPhone, launched my QR app and snapped the code… nothing. Tried it again with yet a different app… nothing.  As I looked a little closer I noticed it wasn’t an actual QR code, rather a proprietary Microsoft QR-like code and if I wanted to unlock the secrets on USA Today I would have to go and download the Microsoft TagReader to interact with it.  I gave up!


My new concern is now that Microsoft has brought in their own proprietary version of the QR code I’m even less likely to believe that it will be something that I will be able to get behind.


I know there is a lot of interest and movement behind these codes, but can someone please tell me why I should work to educate, train, troubleshoot and support these codes as part of my daily job as I still can’t seem to figure it out.

William Stites

William Stites

Director of Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy

Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy (, "Blogger in Chief" for, consultant for Educational Collaborators, husband and father of two crazy boys. All that and still trying to find time to write and share as much as I can with you here and at