QR Codes Everywhere But Higher Ed?

I’ve blogged a few times about the increase of use of QR codes by companies, especially when it comes to marketing.

Their use is especially on the rise, and I’m encouraged each time I see a large company begin to roll them out for their customers.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed that just about every price tag at the Best Buy by my house had a QR code. TVs, appliances, cameras, Blu-ray players and more. Here’s an example:

That QR code takes you to a mobile version of that product’s page at Best Buy’s mobile website. It’s nice if you want to see some additional information or reviews and don’t want to be bothered by the sales droids. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself knowing more than they do about electronics, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

Here’s the page. You can click for a larger version.

Did you see what they did there? The price on the mobile page is $70 less than the store price. When I asked the sales droid about it, he said the online site often is updated before the prices in-store. He said Best Buy will match prices in their online store at any time.

So, had I actually been buying this TV, that little QR code would have saved me $70. Not all QR codes are sales drivers, but perhaps they could be a nice little incentive for tech-saavy customers offered by tech-saavy businesses.

3 thoughts on “QR Codes Everywhere But Higher Ed?”

  1. Case Western actually piloted a campus program with an ex-engineering student turned entrepreneur, I believe:

    The program had a lot of interesting, if unintended, consequences. The most notable for us GAs in the professional writing program occurred when the ex-student spoke to current students about the tech to the lecture portion of Writing for Engineers, showed some sexy/sexist applications, prompting a discussion that alienated several women in the classroom. She ended up writing a hell of an op-ed, though, so the moment ended up being successful in one way (the visit and lecture it prompted from admin’s harassment person, not so much).

    University prep for m-learning probably should be integrated into a pre-existing strategy – I wonder how many IT departments or department web coordinators (to the extent they even exist) can point to web content specifically designed for mobile, or even give time to creating a simple css spreadsheet for web content? My current uni/dept. does not.

  2. We surveyed our students as they came back to campus two weeks ago on their use of social media and possible interest in a mobile app.

    One of the ways we promoted the survey was with sandwich boards on campus. The poster included a QR code that took them straight to the survey along with a straight URL in the poster copy.

    In the first couple of days we had at least one click-through counted on the QR code. I haven’t looked at the final data to see if we got any more than that (and it wasn’t me testing it–I did that in the office with a dummy link).

    Campus demographic: 50/50 graduate/professional and upper-division undergraduate; non-residential; focus on research and advanced studies in health sciences/professions, design disciplines, education and policy in an urban setting. I’ll know a lot more about their tech savvy when we analyze the survey data.

    As I think about how to utilize QR codes I can see some fun ideas: A code on the bulletin board next to the library door that takes you to a (mobile-friendly) page with their hours, a print map for visitors with a QR code next to each building that takes you to the info page listing the programs and services found in that building and another code that routes you to information on transportation choices for coming to campus.

    Question–as always–is whether there are enough users to justify creating yet another (possibly trendy?) way to reach information when we haven’t yet been able to make our site mobile-friendly (which, as a Droid owner who’s very grouchy about bad site design, I consider Job One).

    At this point I see more value in putting links to those building info pages onto Google Maps where they’re findable even by people who (gasp) don’t have a smartphone. 😀

    As an aside from a recent retail consumer experience, two days ago I stood in the aisle of my grocery store trying to scan a product to get more information (preferably reviews) to decide whether to buy it.

    The combination of shiny packaging and fluorescent lighting made it nearly impossible to get a clear scan. I probably wasted 5 minutes finding a way to prop this darn bottle of cultured coconut milk on a nearby shelf in such a way as to minimize the glare.

    And after all that, no reviews. I got no more information than what I already had on the label in front of me. (I also asked Twitter but by the time I saw an answer I’d already made my decision. It’s so-so and I won’t buy it again.)

    Those applying QR codes will want to make sure that scanning is easy and that the information people find through that mechanism actually adds value.


    Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    Washington State University Spokane

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