The rise of QR codes in higher education

One of St. Leo's QR codes brings students to the school's online application page.

Have you ever found yourself wanting to write down a phone number or website but without a pen or pencil? If you have not, you’re among the lucky ones. Saint Leo University, located north of Tampa, has used Quick Response (QR) codes to assist those of us who aren’t armed with a pen, and want information on the fly.

The QR code is a square composed of black modules on a white background with encoded information that can be scanned by web-connected smart phones. QR code technology has gained traction on campuses of every size over the past year as a way to connect students – and perspective students – with relevant information immediately.

You can find many QR code generator websites, but I wanted something a little more personal.  I designed our campus’s QR codes to grab the attention of Saint Leo students.

Read more about QR codes in higher education…

QR codes welcoming freshmen to campus

Quick Response codes catching on in higher education

When the QR code is scanned it takes you to the Official Saint Leo University Facebook page. This has helped the university not only increase the number of “likes” on our Facebook page, but also provides increased exposure around campus and around the world.

We created the code with a tracking function so we can see how many times it’s scanned, helping us understand which QR codes are the most effective among students.

I have worked with Ed Austin, St. Leo’s associate vice president of marketing, to create QR codes for printed advertisements and other marketing documents so students can quickly and conveniently get more information and even apply right there on the spot.

For example, Saint Leo University inserted a QR code on marketing documents that leads the user to the online application link so he or she could apply to our school on the spot. In this QR code, I used a more colorful Saint Leo logo to grab the attention of the viewer.

“We utilize QR codes in our marketing to establish another level of engagement with both future and current students. It connects individuals with mobile access to the information they seek instantly,” Austin said. “By providing specialized content on mobile friendly landing pages we can directly link visitors to what they want to learn more about. This innovative process is designed to promote interaction, increase response rate, and attract new visitors to Saint Leo University.”

The university made news last month when our Division of Student Services used a QR code on a T-Shirt that said, “Scan me for a Good Time.”

When someone scans the shirt it leads back to the events calendar for the University. This helps a number of students be aware of campus events and activities.

Campus officials are busy thinking of more ways to use the QR code to attract students to activities on campus. One of the great things about QR codes is we can set up the code to go to a website, video, picture, or just about anything on the internet – the options are limitless.

We are creating a QR code game for everyone on campus to play and learn more about the university.

There will be a QR code at five locations that lead to another QR code that is hidden on campus. When scanned, the QR code leads the individual to proceed to my office.

When they arrive at my office and “like” the official Saint Leo University Facebook page, the individual will receive a prize. We will present every fifth person, up to a hundred people, with the prize–a $20 student bookstore gift card.

Jim Lecinski, author of the book, ZMOT:  Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, wrote that consumers are making choices before they arrive to the store, or in our case, before they visit campus or one of our continuing education centers.

The marketing model is changing with technological progress, and adding the zero moment of truth to the model means we can ensure the consumer gets information quickly and efficiently.

Whether the consumer is passing by a billboard in an airport or reading a magazine and sees our advertisement, we want them to be able to take the next step in the process and get more information about the university at that moment.

Most QR code scanners – including most smart phones — will hold your recent scanned codes that you don’t have time to read or apply on the spot. The student can always go back and look at that information when they are ready.

Technology is constantly changing and it’s important for colleges and universities to stay current. Social media and QR codes are here to stay in higher education.

The author is manager of social media at St. Leo University.

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eCampus News Staff