Evolving content for mobile delivery synthesis discussion and recommendations march 2011


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Evolving content for mobile delivery synthesis discussion and recommendations March 2011 by Gill Needham Associate Director (Information Management & Innovation) the Open Univeristy

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Evolving content for mobile delivery synthesis discussion and recommendations march 2011

  1. 1. Event Held 7th March 2011 Evolving Content for Mobile Delivery Synthesis of Workshop Discussion and RecommendationsOpportunitiesThere was general agreement that mobile delivery offers huge opportunitiesfor students, for universities, for libraries and for publishers. There is hugepotential to increase the flexibility of access to quality academic content andallow students to make more use of time in their studies. As the profile of thestudent body evolves and changes, it may make it easier to reach a broaderand more diverse user population (examples might include work-basedlearners or learners in countries with poor internet access). More importantlyperhaps it makes it possible to make academic content easily accessible toyounger students for whom the mobile device is the channel of choice forlearning. To ignore this opportunity is to take a major risk of libraries and thecontent they broker becoming less relevant to this ‘new’ group of learners.Furthermore, the most sophisticated devices such as the iPad open upopportunities to go beyond text and develop a new interactive form of eBook(such as those developed by the Open University and launched on iTunesU)incorporating video, images, audio and interactive activities.ChallengesIt was felt, however, that, at this point in time the challenges are considerable.These were identified particularly from the librarians’ perspective as they areincreasingly aware of the needs and frustrated to be unable to respond.Authentication and access management are complex and off-putting to users.There is work to do to develop business models for eBooks and, indeed, appswhich can be licensed by libraries for flexible use by their communities.Another major challenge is that there is as yet very little substantial evidenceabout student preferences and behaviour. Publishers are unlikely to commitsignificant resources in this area if they have yet to be convinced that studentswill be prepared to read academic content from small mobile screens. This isa circular challenge as we need content to be available in order todemonstrate to students what can be provided and to elicit meaningfulfeedback. There is currently very little high quality content available whichworks effectively on mobile devices, whatever the claims of publishers andsuppliers. Developments will need to take into account the different types andmodels of device students will be using, ranging from standard phones toiPads and the variety of platforms. The content which is available is invariablytext-based1
  2. 2. RecommendationsFrom this discussion, a long list of practical recommendations was developedas follows: 1. Librarians and publishers should work together to further develop detailed requirements for effective mobile delivery 2. More research should be conducted with students to build the evidence base re preferences and behaviour 3. Systems and processes should be developed to collect user data and make it available across the sector to inform future developments 4. Librarians and publishers should work together to identify and evaluate a range of options for new business models for eBooks – to include micro-payments at one extreme and open access at the other. 5. There should be general and widespread adoption of emerging common standards such as ePub and html5 6. Publishers and librarians should pool their expertise, supported by JISC to experiment with new forms of content and delivery 7. Priority should be given to exposing reference type material which works well on small screens (dictionaries, encyclopaedias etc.) possibly linked to journal content. 8. There should be joint investment in technical innovation in this area.Suggested next steps • Respond to the JISC call and assess what contribution this is will make to the above • Set up a joint task group including representatives from the Library and Publishing communities, with support from JISCGill Needham 4/4/112