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Barcode Solutions for Higher Education

scanning a library book

It’s Julie’s first day on campus at the University of Prince Charles, commonly known as UPC. Julie will start her first class tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, she has so many things to do. She’s focused on finalizing her enrollment and picking up her student ID card, all while trying to juggle moving into her dorm, picking up her textbooks, and making sure she has her meal card so she can re-energize at the student commons.

Julie has been pretty stressed about getting through her first days at UPC because the welcome package she received in the mail was a single sheet of paper. She hands her barcoded welcome letter to the student administrator, who waves it under a laser light. The admin hands Julie her student badge quickly with the same ink pattern, and much of her anxiety falls away. The rest of Julie’s first day goes off without a hitch, though it would be nice if her classes didn’t start at 8:30 a.m.

Barcodes for the Higher Education Student Life Cycle

Many of us associate barcodes with products, like canned goods, books, and clothing. Barcodes were patented in 1951, but didn’t achieve wide popularity until about twenty years after when the Universal Product Code was invented in 1973. By 2004, 80 to 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies were using barcodes, and it has increased from there. The way we use barcodes has evolved over time as well. They not only facilitate the sale and tracking of products on the shelf, but are also used on:

  • Identification badges and ID cards
  • Mobile applications and mobile barcode scanning apps
  • Medical images and patient records
  • Legal and government records

All of these use cases are impressive on their own, but when integrated into student administration applications, physical security systems, college store POS systems, and on-campus meal plan software, barcodes can enhance student experiences.

The use of barcodes also gives colleges and universities a 360-degree view of students as they use campus facilities such as libraries, technology labs, fitness rooms, and other services. Barcodes are also a powerful way to increase privacy controls since a barcode can represent many lines of personal data including names, addresses, health conditions, social security data, and more.

As information capture and retention needs have increased, 1D barcodes have evolved into layered 2D barcodes. 2D barcodes are unique due to the following characteristics:

  • They have additional layers and markings to represent additional data.
  • They are an evolution from the traditional 1D barcode format.
  • Designed from patterns such as squares, hexagons and dots to encode information.
  • Contain more information than just numerical information.
  • Enriched data types they represent including names, addresses, phone numbers, images, and website URLs.

Barcodes for Physical Security Controls

Barcodes and barcode scanners on mobile phone apps can identify students to ensure the right person is taking an exam or participating in a class. From orientation to graduation, barcodes and QR codes are a great way to enable student access to the facilities which match the classes they are enrolled in and their course schedule.

Students who volunteer for programs like Safewalk can be given access to buildings after hours on an as-needed basis. Building permissions can be managed centrally, instead of requiring a student to report to a security office for a new card every time they need additional privileges.

If a student hasn’t returned a school asset like a video camera, computer, or other valuable school property, they can be denied checking out other assets until the original loaner gear is returned. Equipment is also generally barcoded, saving asset managers a lot of keying when checking equipment in and out.

Student Graduation

Julie has been at UPC for four years now, and she feels like the years have flown by. She has managed to hold on to her original ID badge, which is somewhat faded and worn but has made her life so much easier than she believed it could be.

She looks down at her badge and reminisces about the fun she’s had and the long nights of studying she’s endured. That photo, her first name, barcode, and the UPC logo are all that are on her badge which hangs around her neck on a lanyard. Julie hears her name announced as the valedictorian of her class. She tucks her badge into her gown and steps up to the podium to give her speech, and the next chapter begins.

If you are looking for a barcode solution to collect data and control security access, check out Barcode Xpress to learn more.