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Cracking the Code: The Four Functions of Effective Educational Barcodes

Barcodes offer big benefits for education. From verifying student identity to providing on-demand payment options, the simplicity of black-and-white barcodes offers the opportunity to manage increasing campus complexity at scale.

But cracking the educational code requires more than the physical distribution of barcodes across devices and IDs. Schools need the right technology to support effective barcode deployment. Here’s a look at four top functions that factor into front-line educational efficacy.


Keep It Simple, Keep It Safe

The biggest benefit of barcodes in education? Reduced complexity. Code-enabled ID cards allow students to quickly verify their identity, access educational resources, and pay for on-campus purchases. Barcodes also empower easy resource tracking — who borrowed school-owned books or laptops? When? Where? 

But simply deploying barcodes at scale won’t solve for complexity if campuses don’t have underlying software solutions to easily access barcode databases, track resources in real-time, and support additional barcode formats.

 


Reading Is Fundamental

Barcodes are only effective when they’re reliably read. But schools have no way to keep ID cards and resource codes in pristine condition. Students often carry cards in backpacks or wallets, while barcoded books and laptops may be tossed into lockers for storage or dropped as students hurry from class to class.

Here, it’s critical for schools to leverage barcode reading technologies capable of filling in the gaps if cards are cracked or codes are damaged. Scanning software must be able to extrapolate critical data even if bars are damaged or distorted, in turn offering students time to replace damaged cards and staff the space to recode and reissue resources.

 


Do More with Less

The most familiar type of barcodes — thick-and-thin black lines separated by white spaces — are often called one-dimensional or 1D. They’re ideal for encoding basic information such as student names or library book details, but are limited in scope as data becomes more complex.

As schools look to leverage student and resource metadata — from names and addresses to social security numbers for student IDs — 2D barcodes offer a way to encode more in-depth data sets with the addition of squares, hexagons, and dots to the standard stripe solution. Recognizing the value of these small-sized, but extremely specific code variations, demands software capable of reading 1D, 2D, postal, patch, and QR codes at speed.

Want to learn more about the techniques and technologies campuses need to crack the code? Check out our educational barcode eGuide: Reading Between the Lines.