Some students said the process took too long, and that they lost interest.

Archrival researchers warned colleges and marketers that if college students are unlikely to use a technology, the general public likely wouldn’t embrace the technology, either.

“When it comes to trends, especially those in the tech fields, adoption doesn’t trickle down to college students, but rather the other way around,” the Archrival researchers wrote. “The college campus is what drives our popular culture—always has, always will. Without adoption or buy-in from this segment, a product will continually struggle for relevancy.”

Gannod said Miami University of Ohio has embedded a QR code scanner into the university’s dedicated smart-phone app. That, Gannod said, eliminates one of the barriers to using QR codes: searching an app store, downloading it, opening the app, and using it to scan a code.

“We’re hoping that will provide the piece that they’re not getting, to bridge that disconnect,” he said, adding that the evolution of QR codes could give colleges a more direct way to guide students to websites. “I don’t know if we know this is the long-term solution to what we want.”

Until students find good reasons to stop and take the time to scan a QR code, the adoption of the technology could languish in higher education, said Lora Louise Broady, an adjunct professor at the University of Denver with a focus on marketing and social media.

“Digital engagement with the college community will continue to grow once students find real value in the information being offered,” Broady said. “The mystique of QR codes has certainly captivated marketers in all sectors, and universities are no exception.”

QR codes, the researchers wrote, could have a short lifespan in higher education if the technology isn’t more immediately accessible for students with little patience and short attention spans.

“Unless QR codes become easier, more nimble, and can provide content that engenders a more meaningful connection to the brand or product, students will continue to shower them with apathy,” they wrote.


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