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Yearbook to expand online content with introduction of QR readers

by Eva Hill,
  • Instructions for using the reader: Take a photo of the code and download a Qr reader application on your smartphone. You'll then be redirected to The Pendulum's home page. You can also follow the url if you don't have a smartphone. Graphic by Eva Hill.

This year, Elon University's yearbook will be expanding its multimedia content with the addition of quick response, QR, readers in each section of the publication.

Elon will be one of the first yearbooks in the country to include the readers, said Shandi Foster, the local senior representative for Balfour Taylor yearbooks.

"It is a code that can be placed anywhere," she said. "You can use your phone and download an app and you can play streaming video immediately."

The yearbook is planning to use the QR readers to direct students and faculty to online video content, said Lauren Needell, yearbook editor-in-chief.

"You would scan it on your smartphone and it would pull up a webpage," she said. "We haven't fine-tuned it yet, but that's what we're thinking."

Foster said the online content is hosted by Balfour Taylor and is completely secure. The content will be able to be accessed by anyone with a smartphone, but for people who don't have a smartphone, there will be a URL at the bottom of the page.

Many publications are now using QR readers, according to Randy Piland, yearbook adviser and lecturer in the School of Communications.

"The technology on smartphones allows the phones to read the codes, and this is a way to enhance the printed book and give it something fresh and new," he said. "It adds dimension to the yearbook."

For students to access the content on their phones, they take a picture of the barcode on the page and it opens in an app that immediately directs them to the Web.

Foster said Balfour Taylor, which is based out of Dallas, proposed the idea to Elon's yearbook in early February. She said everyone seemed to get really excited about the idea.

"I think it's going to make the yearbook completely interactive and spark a new interest for this generation," she said. "Anytime you can add technology into something, young people like it."

According to Needell, there will be five codes in this year's edition of the yearbook. The codes will be printed in each section: student life, academics, sports, seniors and news.

"The yearbooks are free and are covered by Elon tuition," she said. "They come out in the summer and are distributed to students in the fall of 2011. If seniors want a copy, they can send a shipping fee and will ship it to them."

Foster said this timetable is what made it possible for Elon's yearbook to have the QR readers before many other schools.

"Because Elon's book is finished during the summertime and doesn't ship until August, Elon will be one of the first in the country to use QR readers," she said.

Needell said the video content is still being decided, but could include Elon- related events such as sporting events and the commencement ceremony. She said Balfour Taylor would save the content and people will be able to access it in 30 years.

"The readers are becoming more popular," she said. "They have been in magazines and advertisements, like Cosmo and Women's Health."

According to Piland, the timing was right and the yearbook staff took advantage of the chance to be one of the first college yearbooks to use the barcodes.

"We see an opportunity to try something new and it is a technology additive to a printed book, and it feel like it will be interesting to see how it turns out," he said.