Mlibs event – Mobile devices in teaching and research: how do libraries support this?

This is part of a series of blog posts based on the sessions held at the Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event. More resources from the day are available at the event Lanyrd page.

Sarah Barker (Yale College), Claire Beecroft (University of Sheffield), and Adam Watson (Leeds Metropolitan University) facilitated a group discussion during the morning breakout sessions. These notes have been contributed by Pete Dalton.

Sarah Barker and Claire Beecroft

Sarah Barker and Claire Beecroft

The session took the form of a facilitated group discussion and was wide ranging in coverage.  People shared experiences about how they were using, or hoped to use, mobile technologies in supporting teaching and research as well as in delivering library services and other campus wide services. These discussions painted a diverse picture of library activity in this area.

Discussions focussed on challenges to implementing mobile technologies.  These included:

  • cost of vendor provided services including costs for ongoing upgrades
  • decisions on whether separate mobile sites should be developed or whether a single point of access would be provided regardless of device used for access
  • variability of availability of mobile friendly apps from vendors
  • in some areas technology is ‘ahead of the law’ in this area and mobile allows the possibility of services which currently are not legal
  • the possibility of an institution using a service that it subscribes to as it is tied into that service when a free app might actually serve the purpose more effectively
  • support issues around free apps
  • the need for user education in the mobile area – one cannot assume that people know how best to use mobile services to support their learning or research because they know how to use mobile technologies in other contexts

Two key messages from the session were:

  1. There was a general consensus that institutions needed to embrace mobile technology or risk the services that libraries might provide to support teaching and research not being fully exploited as users access other services through mobile devices
  2. The quality of content delivered was of paramount importance regardless of the medium of delivery
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