Incorporating Mobile Technology into Information Literacy Instruction

Incorporating Mobile Technology into
Information Literacy Instruction:
Opportunities and Challenges
Chad Crichton, MA, MLIS
Coordinator of Reference Research & Instruction
U of T Scarborough Library, University of Toronto
Robin Canuel, MLIS
Liaison Librarian
Humanities and Social Sciences Library, McGill University
39th Annual LOEX Conference - Fort Worth, Texas - May 5-7, 2011
Learning Objectives
Participants will...
1) Understand the value of mobile technology in
an academic library context
2) Appreciate the current state of mobile
resources and services, and possible avenues of
future mobile development
3) Learn about the integration of mobile
technology into information literacy instruction
in the classroom and beyond
• Being available for your users anytime,
anywhere, any place
• New Paradigm - Possibility of never seeing
your patrons in person in the future
• Does new mobile technology change what it
means to be “information literate”?
How many of you own a cellphone?
How many of you have a smartphone?
Globally there are over 555 million
fixed broadband subscriptions but
over 940 million 3G subscriptions
There are now over 5.3 billion mobile
cellular subscriptions worldwide
A World Without Wires
The World in 2010, International Telecommunication Union,
In 2010, 74% of undergraduates owned an
internet capable handheld device or planned
to purchase one within the next 6 months
ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology
25% of mobile internet users
in the U.S are “mobile only”
59% of internet users in
India are “mobile only”
70% of mobile internet users in Egypt
never or rarely access the internet
via desktop, laptop or tablet.
Hill, Alistar. (2010)
The Mobile Only Internet Generation
• AT&T reported that from 2007-2010 demand for
mobile broadband increased 4,932% (Hanson, Cody)
• Soon, 80% of all people accessing the internet will be
doing so using their mobile device
(Ericsson (2010),
The average person engages with their phone
150 times per day. If averaged out over a 16.5
hour day, that works out to an average of once
every 6.5 minutes.
Tomi Ahonen
Librarians could become invisible on smartphones
unless they reach out to patrons through existing
…Continuing down this road, many libraries
could find themselves doing little more than
selecting and paying for databases…
…If librarians are not visible in research apps, patrons
will go to vendors to get help…
…But if librarians are willing to redefine their
roles in the research process, they can not only
survive, but thrive in the mobile world.
Boone, Tom (2011)
Librarians need to look for ways to insert themselves
into mobile apps. This doesn’t mean creating an app
for the library, but instead using existing apps to reach
out to patrons…
…Another redefinition of librarians’ roles involves
looking for unique content from one’s own library
and making it electronically available.
Boone, Tom (2011)
If your library, like mine, has been transformed by
desktop computing and Internet access, now is the
time to take action and be proactive in providing
robust services to mobile users.
Hanson, Cody (2011)
Image – iPhone screens:
Image – Device pile:
Some Questions
• How many of you already have a mobile
initiative at your institution?
• How many of you are going mobile in the next
six months? Year?
Association of Research Libraries
Members Offering a Mobile Web Presence
Members with a
University Mobile Site &
a University Library
Mobile Site
ARL Members with a
University Library Mobile
Site only
ARL Members with
a University
MobileSite only
ARL Members with
neither a
University Mobile
Site nor a
University Library
Mobile Site
Aldrich, 2010
Canadian Association of Research Libraries
Members Offering a Mobile Web Presence
CARL Members
offering some
type of Mobile
Web Presence
CARL Members
offering no
Mobile Web
Canuel and Crichton, 2011
Academic Libraries Offering Mobile Services
currently offering
services for
handheld devices
offering no services
for handheld
devices, and with
no plans to do so
planning to offer
services for
handheld devices
Thomas, 2010
What does it mean to “go mobile”???
Apps vs. Websites
Services offered by Canadian
Academic Library Mobile Sites
(Canuel and Crichton, 2011)
Services Offered by North
American Academic Library
Mobile Sites (Aldrich, 2010)
Library Services for Mobile Devices
Library Account (Renewals)
Library Chat Help (IM, SMS)
Room Bookings / Availability
Library News (RSS)
Desktop/Laptop Availability
Research Workshop
• Floor Maps / Stacks Guide
• Automated Phone Renewals
• VPN/WIFI Configuration
Mobile Subject Guides
Campus Webcams
Course Reserves
Videos - vodcast (libcasts)
Library Finder
Full Text Finders (Article
• Bus Schedules
• Send book location / call
number to phone
So that’s what people are doing with mobile
technology, but why?
Who’s priorities are those?
Who is setting the agenda, users or librarians?
Mobile Search
• As smartphones become more ubiquitous, they
increasingly influence the ways in which students
search for, find, evaluate, and use information.
• Do current students exhibit information literate
behaviour when engaging with information on their
• Do smartphones make it easier for students to
demonstrate information literacy, or does this new
technology perhaps erect barriers between students
and effective searching for and use of information?
(Yarmey, 2011)
Mobile Information Seeking Behaviour
• Users likely to have more immediate and goaldirected intentions relevant to their context
• Need to consider the time factor. Users
typically less interested in lengthy
• Cost of data plans affect usage of data by users,
as well as time of day of usage
• Users often only access information from mobile
devices as a last resort.
Heimonen, T. (2009); Cummings, J., Merril, A., & Borrelli, S. (2010); Kaikkonen, A. (2008);
Lee, I., et al. (2005); W3C Mobile Best Practices (2008); Church, K., et al. (2007)
Mobile Learning
“Any sort of learning that happens when the learner
is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning
that happens when the learner takes advantage of the
learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies.”
O’Malley, C., Vavoula, G., Glew, J. P., Taylor, J., Sharples, M., & Lefrere, P. (2003)
“The intersection of mobile computing (the
application of small, portable, and wireless
computing and communication devices) and
e-learning (learning facilitated and supported
through the use of information and
communications technology).”
Quinn (2000)
Mobile Information Literacy
What does it mean to be mobile information literate?
The information literate student considers the costs and
benefits of acquiring the needed information.
The information literate student selects the most appropriate
investigative methods or information retrieval systems for
accessing the needed information.
The information literate student communicates the product or
performance effectively to others.
The information literate student understands many of the
ethical, legal and socio-economic issues surrounding
information and information technology.
"If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their
souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that
which is written, calling things to remembrance no
longer from within themselves, but by means of
external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for
memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you
offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by
telling them of many things without teaching them
you will make them seem to know much, while for
the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not
with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their
Plato (Phaedrus, 275a-b)
… then again, what did Plato know?
He didn’t even have a
landline connection to
the internet!!!
Image: -
“The mobile internet . . . will not be just a way to
do old things while moving. It will be a way to
do things that couldn’t be done before.”
Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
(Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Publications, 2002), pp. xiv, xix.
Mobile Search Variety
Searching for information on an internet-capable
• Typed keywords
• Spoken keywords (voice search)
• Other audio (e.g. Shazam)
• Camera (e.g. Google Goggles)
• Location-aware (GPS/Compass)
• Barcode/QR Code
• Augmented Reality
Potential QR Code Uses
Links to electronic resources
Instructional videos
Useful websites for further information
Directly containing contact details (e.g. link to
QP, Subject Librarian)
• A way of storing information for future
reference (Scanning catalogue records, Call
number and location information – floor
maps, scanning search results)
(Ashford, 2010; Walsh, 2010)
Augmented Reality
Question 1. Brainstorm: What innovative
and creative ways can you think of to use
mobile resources and tools to facilitate
mobile learning, and the development of
mobile information literacy, and to give users
access to the expertise of librarians at the
moment that their information need occurs?
Question 2. Brainstorm: How would you go
about incorporating mobile technology into
an in-class information literacy instruction
In the Classroom
Google Goggles – have items to scan with the camera that
will find results through Google, and items that will not.
Have students scan the items and make notes, and then
discuss why the items that didn’t work, didn’t work, and
why those that did, did.
Location-Based Searching (Local History Courses) – Have
students create written descriptions to geotag historic
buildings and locations with contextual information for
others with mobile devices to access.
Taking the students in your class out of the room and
walking in to the stacks (bringing the online and physical
together… standing in the stacks with all of the library’s
digital resources in your hand).
Outside the Class / Reference
Mobile Librarians (page or SMS a librarian and have them
meet you where your are in the library with an iPad)
Utilize discipline-appropriate augmented reality services
(like Google SkyMap for astronomy, or local historical
“layars” such as “Your city 100 years ago”.)
Augmented Reality created by you! (Make a “layar” for your
campus or the libraries in your local library system)
QR Codes in the stacks or in the books. Link to
information on the call number range that the student is
visiting in the stacks, link to subject guides related to the
content of a print book, link to lists of related resources,
instructional videos etc… free your hyperlinks from the
virtual world and bring them into reality!
Engaging students with a compelling
technology that they are already
engaged with daily
Taking the expertise of librarians out of the
library, and allowing students to access it
where, and when they need it most
New search inputs allow for new ways of
searching for data, and the same technology offers
new ways to manipulate and use data once found
New types of searching allow
opportunities to re-emphasize
traditional information literacy concepts
Mobile services give libraries an
opportunity to challenge the strong (and
not always helpful in 2011) connection
of our profession to a place and
collections of THINGS and make us
more present in our students’ lives, and
hopefully more obviously relevant to
their information seeking success.
Image -
Technical Expertise
Costs (of development for
libraries, and of devices and
data plans for users)
Competing Priorities
Perception of Librarians
(elite, expensive, frivolous…)
Licensed vs. Owned content (DRM)
Speed (Net Neutrality)
(mobile broadband availability)
Image -
Jump on the mobile bandwagon now, in the
future this won’t even be a “thing”, but you
and your students will benefit greatly from
having been ahead of the curve!
“If I have one prediction about the future of
mobile computing, it’s this: The future of
mobile is the future of computing is mobile.”
(Hansen, 2011)
In the future, we’ll all simply be moving from
screen to screen to screen, with no
difference between one’s laptop and TV and
desktop computer and cell phone…
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