undergraduate students + iPads + photographs

Today my colleague Margaret Mellinger and I are presenting at Online Northwest, one of my favorite conferences of every year.  It’s a one-day regional technology focused conference held on my campus, which is super convenient.  And it’s a conference that really knows how to make things easier for its presenters – seriously, if you’re looking for a venue, consider it.

Today, we’re presenting on a study we’re actually still in the middle of, but which is probably my favorite thing I’m working on right now — for many and varied reasons.  About five months ago, at the start of fall term, we gave six of our undergraduates iPads and we’ve been gathering data about how they use them ever since in several different (qualitative) ways.  We knew that one piece of the data-gathering – the photo-elicitation piece – would be done in advance of Online Northwest, so we decided to talk about that piece here.

So the presentation is going to talk about the value of the research method (auto-photo elicitation) and about some of our preliminary analysis – we’ll talk about themes that are illustrated most strongly by the photographs, and also some ideas that have been coming out of the interviews that are illuminated or illustrated by the photographs.  I’m looking forward to it.

Here’s a sneak preview (click to embiggen):

One of the things that was really important to us in this study design was the idea that the iPads needed to belong to the students – that they couldn’t be loaners or have a temporary home with the students if we really wanted to see what kind of impact these devices would have on our subjects’ information practices.  The theme of ownership and personalization is part of every interview.  In our initial interview, we asked them to talk about the first piece of technology they could remember that really felt to them like it was “theirs.”  The other side of the handout has their responses.

I’ll post a link to the slides when they’re posted elsewhere.  It’s a big file.  This is one of those talks where I think the subject is SO interesting that I am a little worried others won’t see it that way — I’ll report back on the conversation as well.

(p.s. I’m also giving another talk on another research project here.  In that one my co-investigators are doing all the heavy lifting and there’s no handout.  It’ll get it’s own post after the slides are up.)

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