Sunday, March 7, 2010

Institution specific IPhone care packages?

Recently some of my coworkers have started to purchase Iphones and Itouches, and have asked me for help on how to setup their devices. 

The problem with the Iphone (and other smart devices) is that it's extremely flexible as it is basically a computer, and unless you are a techie, or enjoy playing around, for most users owning a smart-phone for the first time is pretty daunting and is similar in experience to purchasing a desktop PC for the first time and trying to figure out how to use it, or what to do with it.

Worse yet even if you take the effort to read about all sorts of general tricks and tips about use of Iphones in books on the topic, none of the information is institution specific.

For example, how do you connect your  Iphone to your work exchange mail server? 

This made me think, why not have a iphone care package of sorts, including information about institution specific settings for new Iphone users?

In fact I found many interesting tips and tricks scattered around the net that are specific to my institution ( most but not all of which are not official)  These include

  1.  How to connect your Iphone to NUS exchange mail server [here]
  2.  How to connect to the university's wireless network [here]
  3.  How to VPN [here]  
  4.  How to use LDAP with Iphone mail [here]
On top of that, other institution specific Iphone information should include I think

     5.   Institution specific apps , we have two both unofficial  [here]
     6.   List of university mobile friendly sites (including OPAC, databases, ebooks), QR codes (if used etc)
     7.   Location based services like Foursquare?

   
There are many academic libraries today that have invested or are investing heavily into mobile, they could collaborate with the  universities' computer centre on this project to promote and highlight their mobile services.

As it stands, my impression is that for most institutions, while some produce one-off "how to connect to wireless" type guides for smart phones, there is rarely anything beyond that.

In One iPod Touch per Librarian, Eric Rumsey proposes that libraries equip all librarians with iPod Touches. While this isn't particularly realistic, fact of the matter is as smart phones (including Iphones) become more common place, many if not most librarians will start owning one anyway. I'm betting within 2 years, the only phones you can get are smartphones anyway.

So perhaps this is the time to consider planning workshops for librarians or library users who want to get the most out of their Iphones.

What would be taught in such classes to librarians? Besides teaching the basics of usage of Iphones, perhaps one could cover also useful apps that extend functions that librarians already do


  • Apps for tweeting, facebook (e.g. Tweetie, Echofon)
  • Apps for instant messaging (e.g. IM+, Ebuddy, BeejiveIM)
  • Apps for file storage (e.g. Dropbox)
  • Apps for presentation - turning your Iphone into a slide remote  (e.g iClickr, Mypoint, Mbpresenter)       
  • Apps for searching, video live casting (e.g. Qik)

By supporting Iphone (and other smartphone uses), the institution can send a signal to users, that they are encouraged or even expected to use such devices, which will definitely increase usage of mobile surfing. Library staff would also feel more confident assisting users.

So anyone here already done what I mentioned here? If you have held a workshop on Iphones usage for librarians, what did you cover?

  
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