L. Alon, R. Nachmias

Tel Aviv University (ISRAEL)
In the current era of information explosion, managing personal information has become a challenging task [1]. The growing amount of information, alongside the constant change in information technologies, made it much more difficult to save, arrange and retrieve personal information items that people save in their personal information spaces [2]. Students in higher education, also face those difficulties, as they need to address many information items for their learning as well as personal needs [3].

The current study explores the way students manage their personal information in digital information spaces and its implications for teaching personal information management (PIM) literacy in higher education. We examined the digital platforms that students use to manage personal information, the practices they use for saving, managing and retrieving information items, and how these are related to gender and age.

Participants were 287 students, 54 male and 233 female, ages 19-50 (M=27.56, SD=6.07), who study in higher education institutes in Israel. They filled out two questioners that we developed for the current study: digital platforms for managing personal information, and PIM practices' use.

We found that students use on average 7.76 digital platforms to manage their personal information (SD=1.75). Their personal information space is divergent and consists of three major platforms: laptop, mobile phone, and email account. Students use various PIM practices, the main ones are related to the useful retrieving of personal information items, such as navigate through folders to locate an information item, arranging items in folders, and thinking on retrieval while saving. We also found that on opposed to the known distribution of PIM practices to saving, managing and retrieving [4]. Four factors comprise these practices: active practices, laidback practices, effective practices for retrieving and practices for erasing. We observed differences in the extent to which various students use each practice, and saw significant differences in the use of digital platforms and PIM practices between male and female students of different ages.

The conclusions imply the need for strengthening the students' PIM literacy [5]. The study offers three principles for building a study program that would fit the students' needs. That includes a reflective process on students' PIM practices, encouraging a group discourse on the students' PIM behavior, and exposure to varied information technologies that could improve students' ability to cope with PIM in learning tasks.

[1] Schull, N. D. (2018). Digital containment and its Discontents. History and Anthropology, 29, 42-48.
[2] Bergman, O., & Whittaker, S. (2016). The science of managing our digital stuff. MIT Press.
[3] Trace, C. B., & Karadkar, U. P. (2017). Information management in the humanities: Scholarly processes, tools, and the construction of personal collections. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(2), 491-507.‏
[4] Whittaker, S. (2011). Personal information management: From information consumption to curation. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 45, 1-62.
[5] Alon, L, Hardof-Jaffe, S., & Nachmias, R. (2017). "There are pools of information that no one knows how to arrange": Personal information management challenges and high-level strategies of knowledge workers. Proceedings of ICERI2017 Conference (pp. 3536-3544).