Apps for Librarians: digital literacy with mobile apps
“Beacons are a new type of device that could change the way people shop in stores and revolutionize how retailers collect consumer data and interact with shoppers. Retailers can use beacons to trigger location-based features on customers’ smartphone apps, including targeted coupons, store maps, and hands-free payments.
There has been a lot of confusion about how beacons actually work, so as part of new research on beacons from BI Intelligence, we’ve put together an in-depth “Beacons Explainer,” with frequently asked questions on beacons. The explainer is paired with our exclusive market forecast, which shows the trajectory for beacon adoption. Beacons are becoming the most rapidly adopted in-store technology since mobile card readers.
Our Beacons FAQ includes answers to some of the following questions:
1. What is a beacon?
A beacon is a small wireless device that constantly broadcasts radio signals to nearby smartphones and tablets. Think of it as a lighthouse emitting light in regular intervals. Mobile apps can listen for that signal and, when they receive it, trigger a location-based action.
BLE is the signal emitted by beacons, and it’s important for two reasons. First, it transmits radio waves, which can penetrate physical barriers like walls, unlike Wi-Fi or cell signals, which are often disrupted. Second, BLE consumes only a fraction of the battery power that classic Bluetooth does.
3. Do beacons work with iPhones and Android phones?
Yes, but they work differently. Only iOS 7 devices constantly scan for BLE and wake up relevant apps — even if they are closed — when they come within range of a beacon. iPhones and iPads can do this thanks to Apple’s iBeacon protocol (more on that below). Android devices, on the other hand, do not have a beacon system of this type at the operating-system level. Android apps must therefore scan for BLE, meaning that for Android users to interact with beacons, they have to have the app running on their phone, at least in the background. Beacon scanning at the app level means there is more of a battery drain for Android users.
4. What is an iBeacon? Is it just an Apple beacon?
Sort of. iBeacon is not an off-the-shelf beacon that retailers can buy and install in their stores (at least not yet). Apple has filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission, which suggest that the company wants to manufacture iBeacon hardware. Currently, iBeacon is a system built into the latest version of Apple’s iOS 7 mobile operating system that lets iPhones and iPads constantly scan for nearby Bluetooth devices. When iBeacon identifies a beacon, it can wake up relevant apps on someone’s phone, even when an app is closed and not running in the background. Additionally, iPads and iPhones can act as beacons; they can emit beacon signals to wake up apps on other iOS devices.
5. What does Apple’s iBeacon technology do?
iBeacon lets iPhones and iPads constantly scan for nearby Bluetooth devices. When it identifies a Bluetooth device, like a beacon, it can wake up an app on someone’s phone — even if the app is not running. Developers can make their apps responsive to iBeacon by using Apple’s Core Location APIs (application programming interfaces) in iOS.
6. Do beacons beam data to phones?
Beacons do send small bits of data, typically a unique identifier. This allows mobile apps to differentiate between beacons and perform an action when necessary (that is, a location-triggered notification). Think of it as the combination of a hyperaccurate GPS coordinate or an IP address. The identifier consists of three components: a UUID, which is specific to a beacon vendor; a “major,” which is specific to a region, like a store location; and a “minor,” which is specific to a subregion, like a department within a store.
Developers have to include the unique identifier of a beacon in the code so their app will be able to recognize it. If an app doesn’t know the identifier for a beacon, then it can’t be on the lookout for its BLE signal. Most beacon vendors provide developer support to help users configure their apps. “
The Future of Higher Education
Let’s begin by looking at ten innovations that are slowly but surely being incorporated into higher ed, and then to five new educational models that are gradually emerging.
Innovation 1: Learning Analytics
Learning analytics, data dashboards, and predictive algorithms are rapidly spreading across universities and community colleges. These tools offer innovative ways to predict student success, measure achievement of learning outcomes, and drive improvements in admissions, pedagogy, and student support services. And newer endeavors such as Civitas Learning, a leading proponent of actionable analytics, are on the rise, which can alert students to toxic course combinations and provide an early warnings of at-risk behavior to faculty, advisers, and the students themselves.
Innovation 2: Microcredentialing
Just 59 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in Fall 2006 completed the degree at that institution within 6 years. Given the fact that over 40 percent did not graduate from that school, universities are increasingly experimenting with alternate credentials with job market value: Badges, certificates, specializations. LinkedIn, the career networking site, has embraced the concept, allowing users to display such new forms of credentialing. It is too soon to tell if employers will take notice, but it certainly seems reasonable to expect that some will use them in hiring.
Innovation 3: Competency-Based Education
Calls for an outcomes-driven education geared toward 100 percent proficiency are giving traction to competency-based approaches that award credit for mastery rather than credit hours. Especially attractive is competency-based education’s prospect of accelerating time to degree, since students can potentially receive credit for skills and knowledge acquired through life experience or alternative forms of education. So far, most such programs have been primarily career-focused, especially in areas with competencies well-defined by professional associations or industries, and offerings have been largely confined to for-profits, aggressive, but relatively small, non-profits, like Southern New Hampshire University, or extension programs, such as the University of Wisconsin’s. But with the U.S. Department of Education and accreditors increasingly willing to allow institutions to experiment with competency-based models and direct assessment, such programs are poised to take off. The trend is moving beyond just a few institutions like Western Governors University, as even Harvard Business School, for example, launched its HBX CORe program, a “boot camp” for liberal arts college students who want to understand the fundamentals of business.
Innovation 4: Personalized Adaptive Learning
Just-in-time remediation. Embedded learning dashboards. Individualized learning pathways. Activities and readings tailored to student needs and interests. Alerts and notifications. Course recommendation systems. Personalization has been the hallmark of contemporary retailing and marketing, and now it’s coming to higher education. So far, personalization has largely been incorporated into computer-based “program learning,” like that offered by the Open Learning Initiative or by companies like Knewton, the self-proclaimed “world’s leading adaptive learning technology provider.” But recognition of the fact that all students do not learn best by following the same path at the same pace is beginning to influence instructional design even in traditional courses, which are beginning to offer students customized trajectories through course material. Students have embraced this concept as well. CS50: Introduction to Computer Science, now the most popular course at Harvard College with nearly 900 enrolled, offers a variety of pathways, catering to those with no programming experience to a “Hacker Edition.”
Innovation 5: Curricular Optimization
The controversial 1983 call for educational reform, A Nation At Risk, decried a cafeteria-style curriculum with unlimited course options, claiming that it compromised high quality academics by encouraging students to mistake “the appetizers and desserts…for the main courses.” Convinced that a curricular smorgasbord of disconnected classes squanders faculty resources and allows too many students to graduate without a serious understanding of the sweep of human history, the diversity of human cultures, the major systems of belief and value, or great works of art, literature, and music, a growing number of institutions have sought to create a more coherent curriculum for at least a portion of their student body. At an increasing number of institutions, this has taken the form of establishing Honors colleges or programs; at others, by redesigning the general education curriculum to provide students with a common set of integrated experiences. The University of Virginia, using Oracle’s Hyperion performance management software and services, provides a notable example of an institution seeking to optimize its curriculum.
Innovation 6: Open Educational Resources
Innovation 7: Shared Services
Innovation 8: Articulation Agreements
Innovation 9: Flipped Classrooms
Innovation 10: One-Stop Student Services
Model 1: New Pathways to a Bachelors Degree
Model 2: The Bare-bones University
Model 3: Experimental Models
Model 4: Corporate Universities
Model 5: All of the Above
Reading might be typically associated with a sedentary lifestyle, but it’s not all bad. Canada’s National Reading Campaign released an infographic last week which details how reading can lower your stress level and help you become a better person.
It can’t do much for one’s weight or cholesterol, but for that I would recommend an audiobook and a good pair of shoes.
“How many school librarians pay for school items with their own money? Almost 97 percent, according to a recent SLJ poll on out-of-pocket spending. Among 353 respondents, most (34.3 percent) spent $100–$249 in the last 12 months. The next largest group, 23 percent, expended between $250 –$499. Four respondents—1.2 percent—spent $1,500–$1,999.
Where does the money go? The top three categories were books (84.3 percent), office supplies (71.8 percent), and prizes and giveaways (65.7 percent). More than 56 percent bought arts and crafts supplies, while 23.5 percent purchased games, and 17.2 percent paid for media (audiobooks, videos, and CDs). More than eight percent bought electronic equipment, while others paid for author expenses, furniture, library decorations, bookmarks, bulletin board materials, ink cartridges, plush animals, and more.”
And today it’s probably Halloween treats!
Check out the article for more details. http://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/
And even more resources are available here:
Thanks Ellyssa – great post!