Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Content Creation with Mobile Devices

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Content Creation with Mobile Devices

Article excerpt

The third trend we'll look at is that of content creation with mobile devices and how that is creating excellent learning experiences.

Libraries Facilitating Creation

On the website for The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers this mission statement: "The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities." (1)

"Facilitating knowledge creation" works well because it is broad enough to cover what libraries have always done, such as build collections of books and other materials, and also cover some of the newer services libraries are offering, such as publishing help, digital media labs, and makerspaces. This emphasis on creation gets at the underlying reasons for why we do what we do--so that people can create with the knowledge and information offered by library use.

Active Creation as the Best Way to Learn

The educator John Holt once said, "Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners." (2) This emphasis on actively creating as the best way to learn is also found in the work of Seymour Papert, who writes about "constructionism" as a learning theory:

   From constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of
   learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of
   knowledge. Then we extend the idea of manipulative materials to the
   idea that learning is most effective when part of an activity the
   learner experiences as constructing a meaningful product. (3)

One of the most helpful books for applying these ideas is called Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. (4) Based on the ideas of Papert's constructionism, it is full of practical advice for setting up environments where people can learn by creating. This is helpful information for librarians who are planning services that facilitate content creation.

Mobile Devices for Content Creation

When the iPad first came out, there was much discussion and some criticism saying that it was only for passive consumption, like watching movies. While that is one thing it's good at, the iPad and other mobile devices have turned out to be very useful tools for content creation. There are excellent apps for creating and editing photos, videos, music, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, narrated slideshows, and more.

As you've seen in chapter 1, about natural user interfaces, human-centered ways of interacting with mobile devices are making content creation easier and more accessible. These days, you might find it easier to crop and edit a photo on your smartphone than in Photoshop on your desktop computer. Gestures for zooming in on the screen are often much easier than using a mouse.

If you are thinking about how much easier it is to edit a giant spreadsheet on your desktop computer with a large monitor, that is also true. When new tools are invented, the old ones don't go away. Instead, we have more options for different uses and devices can be complementary to each other. Desktop computers still have their place.

When the iPad first came out there were many articles posing the question "Can the iPad be a laptop replacement?" At the time, I experimented for a few weeks by trying to use my iPad for all my work. While it was good for many things, like e-mail, Web searching, and viewing photos, it soon became frustrating when I needed to edit a wiki page that we used at work. Wikis have an editing interface involving editable regions inside the browser window that are nearly impossible to use without a mouse. However, I also realized that there were things I could do with the iPhone and iPad that I couldn't do at all with my desktop computer, like having a document scanner with me in my pocket. (5) That led me to recommend the iPad as a complementary device.

Since libraries are offering more services to facilitate creation, and creation is such a great way to learn, and there are so many useful and accessible creation apps, we have an opportunity to recommend some of these apps to our users. …

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