QR (Quick Response) codes, those uninspiring black smudgy things you used to see mostly on marketing material, are back! Their popularity had faded over the last decade but since most mobile phones can now scan directly through the phone’s camera and not rely on a third-party app, ease of use has brought them back out into world.

QR codes were invented way back in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota to track parts and vehicles during assembly. But as with most technology, we humans found other uses for it – namely in connecting the physical world (let’s call that reality) with the virtual world. Think of a QR code as a button that when pressed (scanned) triggers an action. This could be a link to a website, YouTube video, survey, an image or to whatever you like. It is this action that opens up endless possibilities for workforce development and adult learning.

Imagine you are a new employee going through a training and development pathway and all the points along the journey where QR codes could apply. First, it could be used to connect straight to the WIFI, that is, no more fumbling around with WIFI codes scratched out on Post-it-Notes. Then, you are handed a new starter/learner resource pack. This will have QR codes that will link straight to current policies and procedures, enrol you straight into the company Learner Management System and dropped into the correct modules. You don’t have to type in long URL’s or search for the log in email sent by HR.

As you start to venture into the workplace in line with the training plan, QR codes are available on key items of equipment which when scanned bring up the specifications, maintenance procedures, who to contact and quick reference guides. This can then be linked to assessments in the LMS, job sheets, risk assessments and other `evidence’ gathering tools.

By having a physical pack coupled with QR codes linking to audio, multi-media and articles, the learner can have autonomy over what and how they learn in line with adult learning principles.

Furthermore, Learning and Development teams can track the patterns of an employee to help determine a person’s learning styles, engagement levels and frequency, and therefore individualising the learner’s journey. Data can also link straight to performance management and competency assurance programs.

We understand that this integrated methodology is not new and that there are some great leaps and bounds with connecting employees with the real world through augmented reality (AR), however QR codes are a much cheaper solution you will have immediate control over.

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