Building an Effective Mobile-Friendly Digital Library to Support Mobile Learners: A Case Study of the Athabasca University M-Library Project
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With the rapid evolution of technology today, distance education is about to shift to Mobile learning where e-learning materials are being delivered through mobile devices. Wireless and mobile technology provides flexibility: in time and location of study; in availability of information and resources; and in forms of communication, such as synchronous and asynchronous interaction through the Internet. Athabasca University (AU) is Canada’s leading distance education and e-learning institution. As an open university, it is essential to make online resources accessible to a wide range of users and devices. AU has initiated a mobile- friendly digital library (M-library) project including the mobile-friendly Digital Reading Room (DRR), Digital Thesis and Project Room (DTPR), Digital Reference Centre (DRC), and AirPAC. The M-library system can auto-detect users’ devices and bring them to the appropriate version (mobile or desktop) of the Web site. Researchers at AU are currently conducting research to evaluate the best way to design and deliver electronic materials for mobile access using a variety of technologies. The results of the research will be used to determine how AU can make its library web pages useful for users with a diverse range of mobile devices. This paper describes the AU M-library design, implementation, and evaluation of the M-library system. Some of the M-library design and deployment, challenges and possible solutions are presented.