Content in context, creativity and students with iPads

Information Today publishes a range of journals, blogs, newsletters and books covering all aspects of the information space. Here we bring you some recent highlights.

New value from old information

When he took time to analyse and consider the increased volume (and ratio) of unstructured data being held by companies, Michael Lynch of Autonomy realised that new search protocols were needed to help companies extract meaning from these enormous datasets.  Writing in Online, Terence Huwe reviews recent developments in meaning-based computing (MBC) and considers the impact it will have on information and knowledge professionals. 

Meaning-based computing enables fresh value to be extracted from 'old' information and knowledge.  Evidence of the capability of MBC can be seen in the growth of e-discovery firms in the US.  They are using MBC techniques to replicate legal discovery processes usually carried out 'manually' (and expensively when charged in billable hours) by traditional law firms.

The article reminds us that information professionals have faced waves of disruptive technologies which we have embraced.  "Our field has thrived over time by integrating new technologies within the context of our core competencies-collection development, interpretation, preservation, and counsel.... The best strategy is to analyze MBC and its potential in the context of our core competencies, which provide a unique vision of how the information society can function."

Project iPad

Computers in Libraries features a fascinating story about an experiment with iPads in a Canadian university library.  Using a fund of $5000, the project leaders gave four students iPads and followed them for an academic year, studying how they used the iPad to create, consume and collaborate in their academic lives.

Students were required to blog weekly and meet with librarians every month to discuss their progress. The iPads were loaded with Pages (word processing) and given a $75 gift card from iTunes so they could buy apps.

All four students were new tablet users and the early stages of the project saw them focused on the functionality of the tablet, and comparing it with laptops or desktops.  But as the project progressed, each student developed their own preferences for using the iPad, identifying apps that helped them improve their work processes.  These included apps that helped them read anytime; draw on screen; annotate on screen and organise research and  reading materials.

Lessons for the library

The authors report that the demand for content on portable devices at Ryerson has ‘skyrocketed'.  The incorporation of iPads into loan services requires new policies and procedures and new workflows for library staff.  Discussion with students suggest that iPads and more conducive to longer-loan periods - perhaps a full term. 

"We found that the iPad, though not yet as integral to academic life as a computer, can be a powerful tool in aiding collaboration, encouraging organization, and assisting learning regardless of field or level of academic achievement."

Teaching creativity requires creative teaching

Finally, writing for Internet@schools Johanna Riddle considers the challenges of teaching technology skills and presents an alternative to the structured curriculum.  The case study looks at how art is taught in a UK school and how the programme integrates art with technology and other aspects of the curriculum.  Fostering creativity is crucial - it is 'the global fuel of tomorrow.'

All of these articles are available on the Information Today website.

Photograph courtesy of RambergMediaImages via Flickr.