Research Goes Mobile

Students use ipads in the library

June, 2015 — When First Year Education Librarian Erica Schattle ran into scheduling issues and could not secure a space with computers, she used iPads to turn a seminar room into a wireless, interactive classroom.  Students discussed the assignment, began their research on iPads, and shared initial findings with one another.  They then ventured out with those iPads to explore the library.  "Sometimes the distance between the classroom and the stacks is incredibly large for students. The ability to use a mobile device to start the research process, discover a book, use a map to navigate to the book stacks, and then continue research while still in the stacks empowers students to strengthen their connections between physical and digital library spaces,” said Schattle.

Thanks to the ongoing support of the Richard U. and Ellen R. Levine Endowment Fund, Tisch librarians have been busy experimenting with iPads in the classroom and beyond. The role of librarians and library education in a constantly evolving and increasingly complex environment of information resources remains the same—helping students dive into in-depth research and build critical research skills for success.  While that role remains constant, the ways in which librarians work with students do not.  Based on research in education and other fields, librarians actively experiment with different ways of engaging students and have successfully adapted experiential and active learning techniques. Formal presentations in the classroom have morphed into student-centered experiences, and mobile technologies have proven to be powerful tools for enhancing this dynamic.  Students can now move around the classroom and project or display content they have discovered and/or generated, sharing with either a small group or the entire class.  Moreover, they can roam around the library exploring print and other resources. 

Students in the Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts (BLAST) program have used the iPads similarly.  Students were interested in knowing their way around the library – where to find books, magazines and newspapers, quiet places to study, and places to collaborate, as well as where to find library staff for assistance with research or general library use.  Rather than take them on a tour, Schattle had students follow a self-guided journey, asking them to photograph important spaces in the library along the way. Afterward, they shared their photos and discussed their findings.

Additional classes will be using the iPads during the spring semester.  Humanities Librarian Chris Strauber and the students in a Philosophy 1 course will use them to explore the library and locate core collections in philosophy; an English 2 class will employ them as they learn techniques for evaluating information. 

For more information about Tisch Library’s use of iPads, contact Evan Simpson, Head of Research & Instruction, at or 617-627-6253. 


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