Working with New Technologies and Environments
In his latest book, futurist Howard Rheingold defines the "smartmob," a new paradigm in social computing in which "people ... cooperate in ways never before possible because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing capabilities." The presenters set out to explore the implications of this paradigm for information literacy learning and instruction. They will present the findings of a pilot study conducted to investigate the use of mobile computing and communication technologies by undergraduates at the University of Utah. Technologies explored include handheld wireless devices, mobile audio devices, new cell phone features, and Internet communication software such as blogs, instant messenger, community forums, etc. The findings regarding students' social and school-related uses of these technologies, and the impact our findings have had on developing new models of library instruction will be discussed. Comparison of the findings to national data in order to assess broader implications of the data, analyze local variances, and predict future trends will be shared. The discussion will emphasize the do-able aspects of creating and using mobile communication technologies for library instruction by providing examples from our program and other national efforts in this area. Participants in the session will leave with tips for conducting similar studies at their institutions and with suggestions for ways to stay abreast of how students are using technology in their lives. The conclusion will focus on a discussion of tools of the future and how to anticipate users' needs and ways to connect with them through library instruction.