Perspectives on mobile delivery

Cake and conversation by joeyanne, on Flickr
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Last week I delivered a workshop in collaboration with Gill Needham from Open University. We’d both been invited to give a presentation at the Cake and Conversation: The power of a Library in the palm of your hand event with a practical focus to members of staff at University of Bath. We thought it made sense to combine our time and work together to enable us to plan a full workshop themed on ‘perspectives on mobile delivery’. We took a broad approach first, narrowing it down and then looking forward:

  1. Perspectives on mobile delivery – horizon scanning (presentation slides)
  2. Perspectives on mobile delivery – case study (presentation slides)
  3. Perspectives on mobile delivery – activity
  4. Perspectives on mobile delivery – looking forward (presentation slides)

I began the workshop by giving an overview of some of the work currently happening in mobile technologies in libraries, including the work of the JISC Mobile Infrastructure for Libraries programme as well as further afield. I’m currently working on some pathways to best practice documents on a number of different topics and shared some of the examples we’ve collected as part of that.

Gill then gave a really useful overview of the work Open University have been involved in over the last few years, researching how users could utilise mobile devices for library resources and services, and how their mobile offerings have developed. One point I found particularly telling is that access to resources via mobile is one of the criteria used by Open University for selection of online resources, demonstrating the fact that this is now expected rather than an additional bonus.

We then worked together on an activity for the attendees. They had been split into six groups with a mixture of library, IT, learning technologies and academic staff in each group. Each group was given a persona which they had to consider in the context of providing a mobile service to support them in their studies/research. Gill and I were really impressed with the creativity shown (and the amount of effort some groups had put into giving their product a name!). Each are outlined below…

Laura

Laura (click for full persona) is a researcher in psychology who spends a lot of time travelling and therefore needs to be able to work (e.g. perform literature searches) whilst mobile, using her iPad. The group came up with an idea for a collaborative online research space called LAURA (Learning Academic User Research Area) which would enable Laura and her colleagues to add notes, comments and ideas about the research from wherever they are to a secure area which is regularly backed up. This area would be structured and searchable, and would also include journal alerts for relevant research.

Laura by joeyanne, on Flickr
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Simon

Simon (click for full persona) is a Sports and Exercise Science student who spends a lot of time playing sport. He tends to study during the day as he works or socialises in the evening, and although he visits the library regularly he isn’t familiar with the library systems or how to find library resources. The group decided to utilise the opportunity to promote the library services to Simon by developing a mobile web service. This service would provide library specific as well as extra study resources and would integrate VLE, Student Union, maps and space management, and account information as well as provide social functions and augmented reality.

Simon by joeyanne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  joeyanne 

Sandi

Sandi (click for full persona) is currently on placement for her social work degree. She spends a lot of time travelling between clients and also is a single parent of a young daughter. She struggles to organise her work and studies and has very little time for reading but is aware that she needs more. The approach this group took was really interesting – they broke her day up to work out when she could study and what they could develop to help her. They came up with the idea of a v3Rs (Voice Recognition Reading Recommendation Service), which she could use whilst driving to dictate notes based on her experiences with clients. This would free up time which she usually spends typing up notes, and would also act as a smart search engine. The system would look for key research terms within her notes, and search subject specific databases for relevant readings. When she was ready to study that evening, she would have a list of the appropriate resources ready to read.

Sandi by joeyanne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  joeyanne 

Joshua

Joshua (click for full persona) is a final year student studying International Management and Modern Languages. He has recently returned from his year studying abroad, and travels regularly both for studying and volunteering during vacation. The group highlighted the fact that for some like Joshua who travels a lot, offline access to material is important to reduce roaming data charges, and access to resources from different devices is an advantage. They came up with the idea of an app for all platforms which would bring together all the relevant study resources including library services and resources, VLE, bibliographic management, portfolio and social networks. As much of this as possible would be available for offline download so it can be accessed without an internet connection.

Joshua by joeyanne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  joeyanne 

Jamila

Jamila (click for full persona) is studying for an MBA via distance learning. She is sponsored by her employer and works as a senior account executive for a large advertising agency with offices in New York, Tokyo and London. She travels a lot and is constantly connected online via her MacBook, iPad and iPhone. The group came up with an idea for PRIME (Positive Recommendations & Information Mobile Experience), a mobile-friendly recommendation platform that would source library content from departmental contacts, course colleagues, alumni and business contacts and provide a means of offline content provision.

Jamila by joeyanne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  joeyanne 

Liam

Liam (click for full persona) is an art history academic with a flamboyant teaching style. He isn’t too comfortable with technology but knows he needs to meet the expectations of his students to understand more about how to utilise mobile devices. The group came up with an multi-pronged approach for Liam to provide support for both his own needs and his students’ needs. Liam would have a pre-loaded customised iPad with capability to capture videos and post to a video blog which would be embedded into Moodle. This would be used for additional lecture material or pre-study material. For his own needs the iPad would be used to help him manage access to library resources, both online resources and reminders for renewing print resources.

Liam by joeyanne, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  joeyanne 

Following the presentation of these ideas, Gill and myself briefly gave an overview of some of the steps forward including the community support aspect of the JISC m-library community support project and the International m-libraries conference at Open University in September.

I’d like to thank both the organisers and the attendees for a really engaging workshop and lots of innovative ideas, and Gill for working with me to deliver this workshop.

The full set of photographs from the day are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeyanne/sets/72157630600387600/

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