Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Challenge

Student use of online resources is less widespread than may be hoped for. For over a decade, digital library researchers have shown that access controls, and in particular the variety of different login, password and filtering strategies have combined to produce a confusing digital environment for accessing information.

While many universities now benefit from relatively painless access on-site, once off-site, publishers' natural anxiety about protecting their content often results in a recurrence of the established problems of varied control mechanisms. The complexity of this situation results in confusion and anxiety about accessing information offsite, and it is known that frequently students only turn to find information when under acute time pressure.

The challenge of the project was to minimise the opportunity cost of students' acquiring knowledge about how to access information offsite, and to provide clear guidance on how to access digital resources through simple information stored on their mobile phone. Previous strategies for resolving this problem have included subject-focussed guidance on library websites, (semi-) formal training for students in class, and providing written instructions in online learning environments such as Moodle.

However, this information is often separated from the moment at which students most need access to information by gaps in time (e.g. training some weeks or months ago), availability (e.g. the location of specific information needs to be recollected) and access (e.g. guidance is at university when the student is at home).

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