The use of multimedia, particularly videos and photos, has rapidly gained popularity in the educational sciences, particularly in lecture materials, course textbooks and reference journals. Students (from high school to graduate school) have increasingly adopted the use of various web-based multimedia to supplemental as study materials, and becoming very adept at creating their own instructional videos and taking photos to help aide in the learning process. Many students utilize handheld devices (e.g. smartphones or tablets) to capture short video content and photos, and subsequently disseminate these to their classmates (and the world) on popular websites, including YouTube™ and Facebook™. It has also become incredibly popular (and simple) to create two-dimensional (2D) quick response (QR) barcodes, that embed a Universal Resource Locator (URL) web address to the content in the videos and photos. Once linked, others can “scan” the barcode using their device and instantly access the content via the mobile web browser.
At the University of Southern Maine (USM), students in various chemistry courses have created instructional videos that were uploaded to YouTube, as well as photo blogs organized using GoogleDocs for future students to use as a resource when learning to perform various laboratory techniques or instrumentation. Students have become increasingly adept at utilizing handheld technology to quickly and easily create videos of laboratory procedures, or take pictures and post them with audible dialog. Allowing students the opportunity to create media that can be used by future students gives their work more meaning. Students have become more interested in content of the course as they work to create material that is accurate, yet also creative. During the course of this project it became apparent that students producing the videos were thoroughly engaged in creating a video that could be used by future students. As a result, instructional videos created during this process have been linked to 2D QR codes and are located throughout the chemistry department, placed on various laboratory instruments and embedded into the laboratory websites and course syllabi.
QR codes were also introduced to classroom handouts in the introductory chemistry course at USM as a way to aide students in problem solving situations. Adding information to class materials can be especially valuable for multistep problems where some students have difficulty visualizing what is outlined in the text explanation of a problem. When a barcode is added to an in-class handout, the sheets of paper become smart objects, and when viewed with a smartphone this “clickable” content is similar to a hyperlink on a web page. Each handout had a minimum of two 2D barcodes allowing students to access web-based content (videos, articles and wikis). An in-class assignment used in the general chemistry course is available as supplementary material to this article.