Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Engaging Student Stakeholders with Google Cardboard at Pearsall Library: Phase One


by Ian Boucher 

Google Cardboard is a quick and cheap technology to implement in a library, and its implications are just as fascinating. We at North Carolina Wesleyan College’s Pearsall Library ushered in 2016 with a Google Cardboard demo space, reinforcing to our students the part they can play in personally assessing the value of a new tool for their academic community through their library.

This nifty technology is a fusion of a cardboard headset and a wide range of apps—many of which are free—which turn a smartphone into a virtual reality device. All a user has to do is choose from an app, which could be a simulator, game, 3D environment, or even immersive story, and slide his or her phone into the headset. Google Cardboard apps follow the user’s line of sight, and many of them use sound. We offer headphones!

After learning about Google Cardboard and demo spaces in the fall of 2015 through an ACRL webinar about library technology, I consulted with library staff to develop the initial shape Google Cardboard could take in our library. To get it up and running, we ordered two headsets in the moderate neighborhood of $16.99 each plus shipping, from a seller that offered a warranty (the headset we ordered has reduced its price as of this writing).

Google Cardboard in our library took the form of a small virtual reality station, brought to the front circulation desk each morning and put away at closing, where our work-study students would assist users. The materials included the headsets, some signs made with PowerPoint and images of the headsets and apps, the policy and procedures including FAQs and free app suggestions (categorized under Exploration, Games, Immersive Stories, and Simulators), a sheet where work-study students could tally use and note technology issues, and optional surveys with the following questions:

  1. Where did you hear about Google Cardboard in the library?
  2. From the library.
  3. From a friend in the library.
  4. The library’s Facebook.
  5. The library’s Twitter.
  6. The library’s Instagram.
  7. A friend’s social media. If so, which one? ____________________
  8. Someone told me about it elsewhere on campus.
  9. What apps did you try out? Explain what you think about them.
  10. Would you like to be able to check Google Cardboard headsets out of the library? Y   N
  11. Do you have any suggestions for future use of Google Cardboard in the library or class?

In January 2016, Google Cardboard was out on the floor, accompanied by a marketing campaign via social media, campus announcements, and e-mails to faculty and staff. The campaign included the images in this article, as well as this very representative video:

Clips filmed by Aubrey Motley and Melissa Knox. Edited by Ian Boucher.

As you can see, the students who tried it really enjoyed it. The two favorite apps were Sisters and Jurassic VR, spelled “Jurrasic VR” on the app page.

For it to be effective, this kind of technology requires consistent marketing on the part of library staff, since many users may be unfamiliar with the Google Cardboard concept. Google Cardboard got the most use at our library when it was prominently displayed and showcased face-to-face—and when it rained, it poured. Friends of students using it would frequently be attracted by the commotion, and groups would quickly form. At the end of the semester, I made the station mobile, taking it with me to my reference desk shifts, which always livened things up! Of the 48 students recorded using Google Cardboard in our library during the spring of 2016, 29 filled out the surveys. 27 voted to check headsets out of the library, and nine were interested in using it in their coursework.

For it to be effective, this kind of technology requires consistent marketing on the part of library staff


No experiment is without issues! Some phones were too big, too small, or incompatible, and although students were very responsible, our headsets wore out quickly. Luckily, our seller replaced them free of charge quickly and enthusiastically. It is also important to designate a space where users can experience the apps away from real-life activities, and to encourage users to explore a wide range of apps. Theft was not an issue.

What’s next for Google Cardboard at Pearsall Library? In the fall of 2016, I hope to have a small amount of headsets available for checkout, and I’ve begun researching its academic applications and discussing possibilities with faculty. I am also brainstorming roles for Google Cardboard in library events. Most of all, I am thrilled by how vividly this technology supports the core mission of librarianship, bringing enrichment to its community through connection.

What’s next? What possibilities!


Ian Boucher_Bio pictureIan Boucher has a background in television production, film studies, and communication theory, and earned his Master of Library and Information Science at Kent State University to become a librarian to advocate for information literacy. His primary research interests include the roles of motivation in information seeking behavior and the roles of film and superhero comic books in cultural discourse. Continue the conversation with him on Twitter @Ian_Boucher

from Library as Incubator Project http://ift.tt/2ad3b5Q
via IFTTThttp://ift.tt/2ad3tK4

No comments:

Post a Comment