Researching M-Libraries workshop

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Researching m-Libraries: Strategies for Investigating and Evaluating our Mobile Library Applications

Workshop delivered at the Second International M-Libraries Conference in June 2009 by Anne Hewling & Keren Mills of The Open University, UK

See also Researching M-Libraries

Contents

Aim of the workshop

The potential of mobile devices for learning was highlighted as important in The Horizon Reports for 2007 and 2008 and in the 2009 report they again attract comment as ‘a family of devices characterized by unprecedented advancement…blurring the boundary between phone and computer’. (EDUCAUSE, 2009). It is clear that many higher education institutions are now developing mobile applications and experimenting with their use on courses at all levels and across disciplines - information and library services on the move being a popular example. However, despite the periodic publication of special journal issues detailing case studies and practical experiences, there is little mainstream discussion about appropriate methods for the investigation and evaluation of mobile library developments. How suitable are research methods used presently in e-learning, or traditional learning or library contexts? Do we need to develop new tools and templates for evaluating our successes? This workshop will discuss all these issues, offer case studies of how research strategies were chosen for two recent UK Open University-based projects, and will support participants to develop and outline research plan and strategy for their own research context.

Objectives of the workshop

  • Debate research methods suitable for investigating mobile devices and applications
  • Offer two case studies of mobile research design
  • Consider how to choose appropriate methods for your own research
  • Apply methodological considerations to your own research projects and get peer feedback on appropriateness

Research Methods

  • Action research evolves as practice happens; responds to real time and life occurrences
  • Sponsored use programmes offer low cost access to equipment but what of vested interests?
  • Case studies - highly individual. Of limited value beyond the contexts that generate them?
  • Video/audio diaries exploit affordances of the mobile tools but can simply become performances?

See posters on Qualitative and Quantitative research methods developed by Anne Hewling.

Outcomes of the workshop

Alternatives Research Methods

  • Involve participants in the design of the research & road-testing
  • Analysis of existing data (e.g. search logs; equipment ownership statistics)
  • Surveys – online/print/voice - must be clearly worded and take account of local language and culture
  • Equipment/user tracking

Possible Issues

Reasons to be cheerful

  • Sample population could also be used to comment on behaviours of non-users (their peers)
  • Paper form used outside coffee shop (Tim Hortons) with incentive of $1 gift certificate resulted in a good –sized sample of a mix of people. Anecdotally seemed to be more successful than a draw for an iPod.

Things to be aware of

  • Value of researching information-seeking habits (what do we really learn?)
  • Speed of change
  • Have we defined mobile? What is mobile device?
  • Privacy issues

Example Projects

These were generated by workshop participants at the Second International M-Libraries Conference. Please add your own examples to help others learn when particular methods are appropriate.

Problems and prospects of m-libraries development in Bangladesh

  • Joint research project between developing country and Bangladesh.
  • Could outsource the development of the survey.
  • Sample mobile users what they thing of possible services – examples, government services notices, weather notification for fishermen
  • Survey would need to be voice and in local language.

How to deliver surveys as Users' Interest Surveys

  • What devices users have and want
  • Using IT dept and registrations data for campus no.s of laptops
  • Health sector – intranet not internet. Have need to make own versions of Google Analytics.
  • Privacy issues - collect but don’t look at.
  • What actually produces changes in behaviour & does it improve learner care?
  • Issue – speed of change


Example posters of search – what do folks look for?

  • Analysis of search logs.
  • Top 1000 search terms
  • Mobile user vs. users – differences, overlap
  • Mobile delivery (endpoint) vs. mobile discovery (tool)

Media:Example.ogg

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