Universities and Libraries Move to the Mobile Web Universities and Libraries Move to the Mobile Web

“The convergence of web-enabled smartphones, the applications designed for smartphone interfaces, and cloud computing is rapidly changing how people interact with each other and with their environments. The commercial sector has taken the lead in creating mobile websites that leverage the capacities of smartphones, and the academic community has begun to follow suit. MIT and Stanford University launched mobile websites in June and October, 2008, respectively,1 with many more university mobile websites launched throughout 2009.2 Given this relatively recent adoption of mobile technology by the academic community, the handful of studies completed examine how people use academic mobile websites or identify what information/services they want to access via the mobile web and tend to focus on one or two institutions rather than a cross-section of mobile websites across multiple institutions. Cross-sectional studies identify the types of services commonly offered while allowing for comparisons between what is offered and what users want or need to access using the mobile web.

The study reported in this article examines the mobile websites of large research universities and their libraries in the United States and Canada. The services available on different university and library mobile websites are compared and contrasted with the literature identifying what mobile web users desire. This analysis across multiple mobile websites provides universities and their libraries with an initial benchmark for comparisons with other institutions. Future research on the mobile web can identify trends and design issues that are currently only objects of speculation.”

Key takeaways

  • Web-enabled smartphones (and their applications) have converged with cloud computing to change the ways people interact with each other and their environments.
  • The academic community has only recently adopted mobile technology, and the few existing studies focus on one or two institutions rather than taking a cross-institutional view of mobile websites.
  • The study reported here examined the mobile websites of large research universities and their libraries in the United States and Canada.
  • Results found that few functions on university mobile websites clearly addressed educational needs, highlighting an opportunity to provide more educational links and applications.

Article by Alan W. Aldrich; full text available online on the Educause.edu website.

Posted on EDUCAUSE Quarterly Magazine, Volume 33, Number 2, 2010. Text can be used under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.

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