URL Shorteners and QR Codes

At some point, you’ve probably had a website that you’ve needed to share with your students, but it was way too long to have them type it in. Let’s face it–it’s hard enough getting kids to type in Google.com, let alone something that’s 100 characters long. You’d blow your entire lesson just waiting for them to type it in! That’s where a URL shortener comes in. It takes that long, ugly address and reduces it to something short and memorable.

I have two that are my go-tos, and those are tinyURL and bit.ly.

tinyURL

For tinyURL, simply go to the website and paste your link into the box. There’s an option underneath where you can customize the link, so, for example, if it’s a link to your school website, you could make it tinyurl.com/carrclassroom. You just have to make sure that it’s something that isn’t already taken. If you don’t want to go through that much trouble of customizing it, you can just paste the original link and press the button and it will create a random one for you. There’s even a link on their site that you can drag into your toolbar to make a shortcut. Once that’s there, you can just click on it and it will make a tinyURL of whatever website you’re on.

tinyURL’s homepage

bit.ly

Bit.ly works similarly, but you have to create an account to use it (there’s a free option). What I like about this feature is that, by creating the account, it keeps track of all the websites you’ve shortened. If it’s something you do often, it gets really hard to remember which link goes where. For someone like me, that feature is absolutely essential. Not only that, but it keeps track of how many people interact with your links. With bit.ly, you’re able to either shorten your URL to something random or customize it. It also has a browser extension where you can just click the button and it will shorten whatever website you’re on.

Things to know about URL shorteners

First of all, capitalization may or may not matter. With tinyURL, capitalization doesn’t matter. With bit.ly, it does. What comes after the slash mark can be upper or lowercase, but it’s easier to make everything lower case, because that’s what most people do instinctively. If you do make something capitalized, just remember to tell whoever you’re sending it to that capitalization matters. If they type it wrong, they won’t get to your site.

Also, sometimes students can use URL shorteners to get around school firewalls and filters, so make sure you’re monitoring students if they’re using them. Also, your district may block some URLs for this reason, so do some experimenting to make sure one works on your school network before you send it out.

QR Codes

Most of the time when you see a QR code and scan it with your phone, it takes you to a website. What some people don’t know is that QR codes can also reveal messages or information, which makes them a great tool for stations/centers in your classroom. Not only can you send students to websites to read information or watch videos, and you can also format them so that they reveal information. This is an ideal way for students to check their own work. Plus, knowing how to make them means you don’t have to go online and pay for lessons that incorporate them. You can create your own lessons for free and spend that money on yourself!

There’s only one QR reader and creator that I use, and that’s i-nigma.

I’ve tried a few different readers and creators, but I’ve found their site to be the most user-friendly. To get to their site, go to bit.ly/edtechintenqr or tinyurl.com/edtechintenqr (see what I did there?). Then, all you have to do is paste in the web address or type in the message you want and the qr code will appear. Copy it and paste it wherever you need it. To download the QR reader, go to your app store and type in i-nigma.

This is all it takes to make a QR code.

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