BY Jerry Roche
Just a few years ago, not many people knew what QR codes were or what to do with them. Today these scannable barcodes can be found on almost every physical and virtual product in today’s connected marketplace. Manufacturers use QR codes to give the purchaser more information about the product, provide instructions on use, or to simply advertise other products or services.
The learning and development community soon recognized that these powerful codes (which can contain most types of data stored online) could help connect learners to content in real-time at the time of need. DuPont Sustainable Solutions sees the use of QR codes as a powerful new avenue to disseminate learning information across an organization. “When it comes to learning strategy, QR codes are all about solving ‘just-in-time’, ‘just-in-place’ problems,” says Steve Zuckerman, Software Product Manager for DuPont Sustainable Solutions. “We have found that tying this technology to safety and compliance video content can save organizations a significant amount of time in the delivery of necessary information to both internal and contract employees.”
QR codes not only enable learners to engage with the content in a personalized way, but they offer a way to apply new knowledge instantly. In the traditional model, learners gain new knowledge or information but must wait until it’s applicable to use it. With QR codes, they can use it right away, on site.
This is especially useful as it pertains to compliance-based issues like safety training. For example, having a QR code at the entrance to a manufacturing site can allow an employee or contractor to view a video or manual explaining all hazards at that site and what needs to be worn and recognized for proper protection. That type of learning experience at the time of need can be much more impactful than taking a compliance course every 12 months.
“Think about the applicability for a company with a wide range of contractors who must access highly hazardous environments,” Zuckerman observes. “How does the company know that those contractors know about all the hazards? Having to scan a QR code at an entranceway to a plant, office or hazardous area can yield a video on their smartphone or digital device about existing safety regulations — like requirements for hardhats and eye protections.”
The future of learning is distilling content into smaller, bite-sized “chunks” to deliver shorter “just-in-time” training experiences. Imagine delivering two- to three-minute video clips via QR codes to communicate a safety contact, a meeting opener, or refresher training. Shorter learning experiences empower employees to seek the knowledge they need at the time they need to apply it.
QR codes can potentially:
>> Increase engagement by allowing the learner to use modes that are common in their daily lives: mobile video, just in time and “just enough.”
>> Put the employee in control of his or her learning experiences by providing access to content in the moment.
This approach also can minimize the need to pull individuals “off the floor” for refresher training, making for a smarter and more productive workforce.
“QR codes can be applicable to organizations of all sizes and in all industries, depending on the type of knowledge that the organization is trying to share,” Zuckerman says. “As employers become more comfortable with employees using their own personal devices for work-related activities, the use of QR codes will increase. It’s really about the organization getting comfortable with it.”