QR - www.mikeziemski.comThese square-like bar codes are a few years old now, but they still serve an important purpose.  They make finding out more information about your school very easy.  Your school should have them on all your brochures, flyers, posters, and information you send to parents and prospective parents as well as donors and other supporters of your school community.

They’re Quick Response (QR) codes.  Just like bar codes revolutionized the way that information about products could be entered into a computer and have all but replaced price tags in supermarkets and retail stores, these little squares are Web addresses (also called URLs for Uniform Resource Locator).

Rather than seeing a line of text that says to visit a Website address (which may have all kinds of punctuation in it, be case-sensitive, and be incredibly long), a person can download a QR app on their iPhone or other hand-held computer (yes, it’s much more than a phone), then take a picture of this square on their device.  The user is then taken directly to the Web page that has more information about the item they’re looking at.  The QR image associated with this article is the QR to this resource Web site.

If you want to make your own, visit http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.  Just enter the Web address and create the code.  You can then save it to your “My Pictures” file.

The other item you need to know about is the Shortlink.  There are lots of free Web services like tinyurl.com, bitly.com, or, my favorite, ow.ly (note there’s no .com either!) that takes one of those long Web addresses and shortens it to 5 or 6 characters that remain uniquely yours.  If you use WordPress for blogging or for your Web site, there is a “Get Shortlink” link that will save you from going to a different Web site to get one once you’ve published your page or post.

For example, http://ow.ly/6lpbk will connect you my resource Web site for schools just like the QR will.  It’s a great way to get constituents to a specific page of your school’s Web site within your blog posts, Twitter feeds or text messages.  It’s also a much easier way to store important links for future publications.