Handheld Librarians' Mobile Tech Tutorial Pre-conference Workshop

Today’s post is on the “Handheld Librarians’ Mobile Tech Tutorial” presented by Joe Murphy and Chad Mairn as part of the pre-conference workshops at Internet Librarian 2010. (There will also be a break in our regularly scheduled programming to introduce you all to my awesome friend, Monika, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium that you should totally go visit while you are in Monterey for the conference, but more on that later.) But first, let’s talk about mobile technology. Allons-y!

We are going to have an interaction discussion session today. (Yay for doing a needs analysis! Slightly annoying though that introductions take so much time out of the workshop session time.) Going to do lots of practical examples and going to have some guest speakers.

Framework for Mobile Tech
Looking at it via a concept of mobile literacy: three components.

  • Being aware of the mobile technology landscape: look at the trends (Twitter and blogs are great for finding this information); what tech is out there; how to use it
  • Understanding their impacts: on information engagements, on information systems, and user expectations.
  • How to look at applications: how to apply the mobile tech in a savvy way in the library

Mobile Applications for Androids
App Inventor: can use to create applications for Android. (As an aside, I can’t believe I’m the only one in the audience with an Android phone! Come on, people–Android rocks!) App Inventor allows you to to create applications without knowing a lot of coding–very much like drag and drop editing. (Chad likes the idea of web apps (especially with having HTML5 now) more than mobile apps–good to know about both. Joe sees the mobile v. web apps debate as a resource development issue.) App Inventor uses Java for editing the apps. Allows you to code/create applications on your computer and see real time changes on the phone–very cool. [Having a bit of technical difficulties at the moment, but I’m excited about this tool so I hope it works.] It looks a lot like building a puzzle–cute interface. After creating your app, need to put it in the Android market so your patrons users can download the app.

Developing and Designing the Mobile Devices
“Mobile users are on the go.” You need to develop for people who are on the go–should help developing streamlined apps. Test, test, test again when designing for mobile devices! Try out everything on different phones, different browsers, etc. You need to be adaptable because technology changes a lot. (Think perpetual beta and don’t worry about throwing out an app that is no longer relevant) My library definitely needs a mobile OPAC.

Location and Mobile Technology applied to Libraries
Talking about location aware mobile social networks, like Foursquare. All you do: share your location= culture shift of (over?) sharing and interaction. Need to be aware of it, even if we don’t use them ourselves. For libraries, this is an opportunity to engage our mobile audience and can use for marketing. Three main ways of using Foursquare: being aware of it and allowing it (need to allow use of smartphone in the library); promote its use (can add tips and make sure it is showing accurate information); use it as promotional material (drive and attract traffic as “library as place”).

To use it for promotional materials (have awards, discounts, etc. for people who “check in” the most): need a Foursquare account (need to have a staff member to create an account for the library so you can have social interaction) and to create specials (i.e. awards). Foursquare gives statistics. Using this for engagement at a location and also between people who are checking in. Need to know about Foursquare because of the brand recognition. (For more information about the importance of brands check out this article on the importance of brands for Millennials.) Also, you need to think about privacy settings and patron data–also good to educate your patrons about privacy issues and settings.

Mobile Usability
By guest speaker: Jeff Wisniewski (also speaking about mobile usability tomorrow at 2:15pm)
Key to mobile usability is designing it correctly in the first place. Need to do a lot of simple functional testing on a mobile site. “If you can get lost in your mobile site or app, you are doing it wrong.” Shouldn’t need to do a card sort for your mobile site. Subjective component: user satisfaction feedback is very important. Testing methods: heuristic evaluation (looking for problem areas by people who are educated in usability), paper prototypes (can download templates online), HTML prototyping on the desktop (can use for mobile websites; lots of emulators/simulators), use librarians as test subjects (most of the people you work with probably have smartphones).

QR Codes for Marketing
Guest speaker: Beatrice Pulliam
Yay for QR Codes! (I love QR Codes: I use them with my students as links to the class websites. Another great example is the living book.) QR Codes allow us to hyperlink real world materials to more information online. (Google Goggles will read QR Codes.) A library application: creating a walking tour through the use of QR Codes. When using QR Codes for marketing (and really marketing in general) think about using multiple formats–flyers, table tents, posters, tv channel, etc. Can use beetagg.com for QR Code generation (has statistics too) or bit.ly can also be used to generate QR Codes.

You need to be creative in order to be innovative in designing for mobile devices–try to think about what you could possibly do and don’t limit yourself to what has been done. Think simple and elegant when designing mobile experiences. It’s probably a good idea to look into and learn to code in HTML5 as this is changing the relationships between mobile and web apps. QR Codes are fun and easy to use (the conference is doing a scavenger hunt using QR Codes, so be on the lookout for them in the coming days). This workshop was a nice overview of mobile technologies and trends, but I’m hoping for more concrete examples in libraries (and maybe some information about coding) during tomorrow’s Mobile Track.

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