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Israel Butler May 16, 2012 AEET/EDET 780 Critique 1 Yarmey, K. (2011). Student Information Literacy in the Mobile Environment. 1-8. http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVo lum/StudentInformationLiteracyinth/225860 Introduction Kristen Yarmey’s “Student Information Literacy in the Mobile Environment” explored postsecondary students’ use of gathering educational information through the use of Internet-accessible cell phones and smartphones. The research study consisted of the percentage of students who owned smartphone and Internet- capable devices, the use of educational mobile applications, what kinds of specific information students searched for on their phones, the methods use to find information, and the percentages of students that actually investigated the validity of search results. In order to gather the necessary data, Yarmey retrieved the data for her study by e-mailing an electronic survey to a random sample of 832 University of Scranton undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 24 years of age. The selected age range represented 22 percent of the university’s 3,781 undergraduate population and also proportionately consisted of all majors at the school. Yarmey’s survey was comprised of 35 questions, most of which were multiple choice. Participants were also given the chance to win an iPad or a $500 gift card to Best Buy or the Apple Store as an incentive. Another important variable for Yarmey’s research was the percentage of the random sample that owned a specific phone. The first part of the survey showed more than 60 percent of respondents owned iPhones and Androids, more than 30 percent were BlackBerry users, and fewer than 20 percent owned other Internet-capable phones. Yarmey’s results from her research showed that even though students were interested in using their mobile devices for academic purposes, guidance from instructors was required in order to choose the most accurate mobile resources and to overall evaluate mobile websites and applications. With so many different resources on the web and a variety of results for different searches, students are encouraged to explore as many search results as possible when conducting academic research. Approximately 25 percent of the surveyed students never questioned the reliability of the websites visited on their phones, and fewer than 10 percent reported visiting the “About Us” page on a mobile site. Yarmey’s study also found that information literacy instructors should assist students with understanding efficient methods in evaluating information found on the web, especially when using third-party mobile apps. Almost 73 percent of iPhone users and 83 percent of Android owners used app reviews in order to judge its validity. Around 7 percent of iPhone users and 11 percent of Android users did not question the reliability of using third-party academic apps. Of the Scranton respondents who owned an Internet-accessible phone, 38 percent reported accessing the university’s learning management system Angel. Even though the mobile version of this system was not user friendly during the survey period, 83 percent of students wanted better mobile access to Angel in order to interact with course materials. Among iPhone and Adroid users, 76 percent reported using calculators or unit conversion tools, 57 percent used dictionary and encyclopedia apps, 19 percent used flashcard apps, and 27 percent used subject-specific apps such as the Periodic Table of Elements for chemistry. Students may also need assistance from educators in order to apply the same procedures utilized while researching on a laptop or desktop computer in the mobile learning environment. Yarmey made the observation that students seemed to conduct their research at the time of information access. Since mobile devices are used as convenient forms of technology, the information gathered differentiates from that retrieved from more traditional methods such as using laptops or desktops. Yarmey states in her conclusion to her research that because a single-site survey was used to gather the information, the research was so limited in scope that there ended up being more questions than answers. Many of the limitations arose with the timing of the surveyed study and the emergence of new technological devices that were different from the traditional desktop computer and laptop research. Technology such as the Apple iPad along with other tablets were just coming out, and many of the students did not have access to these devices. The use of tablets could have shaped the rate of information literacy in the mobile environment. Some of the implications from Yarmey’s findings determine students tend to be enthusiastic about using their mobile phones for academic purposes. However, guidance from educators is still a necessity in order for students to choose the most reliable mobile source and to determine the validity of mobile websites and apps. Some of the survey results imply that mobile learning can lead to different information gatherings in comparison to computer-based research. The fact that mobile devices are commonly used for an array of convenient functions, its on-the- go setting can lead to students trusting any website and any third-party mobile app. In Yarmey’s conclusion, she recommends that a study analyzing students’ research behavior using smartphones, tablet computers, and laptop or desktop computers would provide valuable insight as to how students gather information in this age of information accessibility through technology. In comparison to mobile devices and computer-based research, the use of tablet computers to gather information may provide an entirely new scope of results. Also, since the time of Yarmey’s research, mobile devices and apps have been upgraded and revamped in order to maintain a user-friendlier environment. This upgrade in technology alone may show a different percentage of college students who have a higher rate of information literacy in the mobile realm. Critique Yarmey’s questions in the context part of her research study are well stated and coincide with the findings of her survey. Along with the questions, she incorporated the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Standards as guidelines to help make sure the study remained on task, and so readers could comprehend her research. The flow of the research project was well organized. In order to gather information on the percentage of mobile device users who possessed a high level of information literacy, the study began with totaling the number of iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and other Internet-accessible phone users. Afterwards, variables such as mobile app research and consideration of mobile website reliability were then taken into account. Smartphones users are of different ages and educational backgrounds, and Yarmey’s writing can be comprehended by a large demographic of smartphone users and anyone interested in observing how students use the mobile learning to their advantage. This research study pertains to my group’s investigation on how to retain students in an online learning environment, because mobile apps such as the University of South Carolina’s BlackBoard system can help students stay current on assignments, grades, and instructor feedback at the swipe of an iPhone or Android. In Yarmey’s conclusion it is clear that some surprising results have been found. Evidence was provided that students do in fact use mobile devices for academic purposes, but information literacy was a vital trait in this new learning environment. Yarmey concludes that the inclusion of tablet computers for future research can provide even more insight as to how this generation of postsecondary students uses new technology to gather information effectively. The implicit theory of Yarmey’s research seems to suggest that postsecondary students use the advancement of mobile devices in the Information Age to efficiently access academic-related tools and the touch of a button. Conclusion Overall, Yarmey’s study was very solid when it came to the methodology of the research, and the results coincided with the goal of surveying students to see how they used mobile learning to their advantage. The main issue that I learned from this article was that it is important as an educator to assist students with becoming more literate in finding information on the web and testing the validity of mobile apps and websites. Throughout my coursework as an undergraduate, I was accustomed to gathering information online in a setting conducive for traditional online research in the library. However, the convenient environment that mobile devices provide ultimately shapes the manners in which students gather their resources with out looking into the reliability of the app or mobile site. While Yarmey’s research was solid, I believe the timing of her survey played an important factor when considering the advancements in recent technology. Tablet computers such as the iPad were beginning to appear in the hands of mainstream consumers across the country. This form of mobile technology could have possibly had an influence on students’ information literacy levels. To further elaborate on this study, Yarmey suggested that future research be conducting that investigates postsecondary students’ information gathering skills vary across different technology platforms including mobile devices, tablet computers, laptops, and desktop computers. Another interesting variable that can be explored is how far along information literacy has progressed with the advancements and user- friendliness of academic related apps.
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