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When Students Go Mobile: The Effects of Smartphones on Information Literacy and Academic Library

November 3, 2009

When Students Go Mobile: The Effects of Smartphones on Information Literacy and Academic Library
Featuring Kristen Yarmey-Tylutki, Digital Services Librarian, Weinberg Memorial Library, The University of Scranton and moderated by Erin Dorney

Smartphone – phone with computing ability

Over 50 thousand apps for iPhone as of last year

In 2008 smartphone sales in North America grew by 63%

Lost of apps are student-designed

Mobile librarians and libraries – Joe Murphy

How do these impact the research process? Information literacy?

It’s hard for students to find big blocks of time for research – mobile helps them break it up into chunks

Looking at 2000 ACRL standards for information literacy – 5 standards

What did mobile phones look like in 2000? Cell phones called people, stored contacts, could text but many people didn’t. A lot has changed since then!

Standard One: “The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information”

  • Free apps vs. authoritative, more costly apps (in terms of reference resources)
  • Talk to vendors about providing mobile interfaces
  • Think about subsidizing cost of authoritative mobile apps
  • Devices can be used to both collect and analyze data
  • Can confuse students – new set of formats (print, electronic, mobile, website, app, device specific?), third-party developers w/ somewhat sketchy documentation.
  • Cost and benefit – students pick free over pay, website over print, w/smartphones, they will probably choose mobile over computer-based.
  • It needs to be affordable and accessible to students in order for them to use it

Standard Two: “The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently”

  • New ways of searching – the ACRL standards assume word-based searching, but now we have different input types – pictures, barcodes, audio keywords, location
  • These options can make searching easier for students, but we need to know how to help them and incorporate this into information literacy
  • No extra typing – fewest keystrokes possible = no long search strings, Boolean, etc.
  • Mobile raises expectations – traditional services won’t be enough
  • On a smartphone, we only see the first 3/4 results in a Google search – will students scroll down or click to the next page?
  • Extracting information – lots of note taking tools out there and microphones built in (i.e. Margins, tools to convert spoken notes into written notes)
  • iPhone can’t run different applications at once – this is a problem but should be fixed (Palm Pre does it)

Standard Three: “The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.”

  • Ebook apps – more time for reading in their lives, but is it “deep reading?”
  • All in one devices are fabulous but also distracting
  • Students are going to want to use things that are designed well
  • Mobile research look at more items but spend less time on/with them
  • Discussing research with peers

Standard Four: “The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.”

  • Syncing mobile and computer applications

Standard Five: “The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally”

  • Privacy issues, personal information – outward flow of information, educate students about what they post to the web and how it can impact their future
  • “Collaboration has become a fact of life” – Kristen YT

Standards hold up well, but there are some new themes relating to smartphones

Is dividing literacy between information and technology helping or harming our students?

Continuous partial attention – we need to be informed – education, psychology, sociology

What’s next? Plans to talk with students about how smartphones are being used by students. Looking for collaborators!

Q: Tools for libraries to mobilize? SMS is first step, in terms of resources, haven’t seen it written about yet

Q: Multi-literacies? Kathleen Tyner

Q: What about faculty using smartphones? Mixed bag, some embrace, some still don’t want to talk about Google. New generation of faculty will help with this transition. We don’t have to push it, but some will be interested.

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