During beta testing, 21 stops were created throughout the library, each with a QR code linking to the audio portion of the tour for that area. The number of stops on the QR code tour was increased from the original tour, allowing for shorter segments of audio that are specifically related to the area in which the student is standing. Students are given a map of the library indicating the location of each QR stop, and can use their smart phone or iPod touch (with a QR code reader downloaded or pre-installed) to complete the tour. For this contributed paper, Michael shared the results of their alpha and beta testing of the tour, with plans for improving the tour based on student feedback.
The library tour can be completed in three ways: a virtual tour; an audio tour using an MP3 player checked out from the Media Center; or using a smart phone or iPod touch and scanning the QR codes. After testing the QR code tour with students in the First Year Writing class, the following feedback was collected:
- Some students preferred the convenience of using their own mobile devices to take the tour, rather than having to check out an MP3 player from the Media Center. The QR code tour allowed them to complete the tour on their own time and at their own pace, or save sections to their phone to listen to later.
- Students who took the tour in a group commented that the QR code tour was not ideal for a group tour, but would be more effective if completed independently.
- A few students commented that the map of the codes was difficult to follow. Students liked the fact that the QR code tour did not need to include directional information ("Now, turn left," etc) as the MP3 tour did.
- Some students indicated they liked the QR code tour because they "don't look like freshman" walking around with the ubiquitous Media Center MP3 player, headphones, and map. (However, the QR code still supposedly requires the use of a map, which leads me to believe that some students didn't use the map and simply looked around the library for the codes. Also, it is unclear whether or not the students using their smart phones for the tour also used headphones, or simply allowed the audio to play through the speaker.)
Some considerations for using QR codes for a library tour:
Do you want audio to be projecting from students' mobile devices as they take the tour? If the tour stops are in bustling parts of the library (and you don't mind hearing your recorded voice wafting through the area), audio may be fine. However, how often do you carry headphones or earbuds around with your phone? Don't assume students will have or want to use headphones for a tour like this. If you are trying to maintain quiet in the area of the tour stops, consider having the QR code resolve to text or a silent video instead of audio.
BYU chose to provide a map of the QR code locations. This involves the assumption that students will stop to pick up the map, or print it from their course management software, or somehow get their hands on a copy, and that they will use it. It seems that basic directional information at the end of each segment, indicating where to go next, might ensure students find all of the codes. Alternatively, the sign advertising the code for one area could also include information about where to find the next code. As a final thought, perhaps mini-maps indicating where to go next can display visually on the phone's screen when the audio for that area has concluded. I have no idea how this can be accomplished technically, but it seems like a good idea!
Similar to the idea of the library tour, I think QR codes can be valuable to provide point-of-need information about a specific service location in the library. Perhaps this may be too redundant if traditional signs already exist describing how to use a service, but I'm thinking that as our users become more visual and mobile, providing instructions in audio and video format that can be accessed quickly through a phone becomes a more viable idea.
Has anyone else tried using QR codes for a library tour - virtual, audio, or other?