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Quick response code scanning for children’s informal learning

Tingting Chung (Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Stephanie Wilsey (Department of Psychology, Carlow University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Alexandra Mykita (Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia, USA)
Elaine Lesgold (Carlow University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jennifer Bourne (PPG, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Information and Learning Technology

ISSN: 2056-4880

Article publication date: 18 February 2019

Issue publication date: 18 February 2019




Mobile technologies, such as QR codes, play a particularly important role in scaffolding the child user’s active learning in informal environments. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of QR code scanning on two informal learning outcomes: increased interest and greater knowledge understanding.


In total, 91 children and their families participated in the study as part of the iQ Zoo Project. Children in both the smartphone group and the control group completed were assessed qualitatively and quantitatively before and then after their zoo visits.


Qualitative findings suggest that most children’s interest in learning about animals was sustained as a result of the experience. Quantitative results reveal that QR code scanning was effective in promoting knowledge gains, especially on subjects that are challenging for the informal learner. Findings were comparable across the younger (5–8) and older (9–12) age groups.


This study provides empirical support for the value and usefulness of mobile technologies such as QR code scanning for children's learning in informal environments.



The authors would like to thank Rene Pico for helping with study design and research material development, Jessica Reese, Melissa Diaz, Teah Matragas, Yifen Liu, Pamela Haberman, Jason Dohoda, Danielle Thomas, Jason Dohoda and Eliana Munro for assistance with data collection, and Karen Sudkamp with manuscript preparation. The authors would also like to thank Grace Ann Geibel Institute for Justice and Social Responsibility of Carlow University for funding the research project, and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) for funding the implementation of the iQ Zoo project. Finally, the authors would like to thank Connie George and Tim McNellie of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Emily Sturmen and Jennifer Stancil of WQED Multimedia for their generous assistance with the research operations.


Chung, T., Wilsey, S., Mykita, A., Lesgold, E. and Bourne, J. (2019), "Quick response code scanning for children’s informal learning", International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 38-51.



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