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Research. Internet use within information science academic programs
Internet use within information science academic programs
Researcher: Fahad Alsehli, PhD Candidate, School of Information Studies, Florida State University. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet use has been expanding into many academic and non-academic programs. For example, the Internet is extensively used in electronic commerce and financial transactions. For academic fields, Internet use dominates the search for and acquisition of information. To a lesser degree, the Internet is being used as a medium for delivery of instruction, as a tool for communication between the instructor and students, and for activities in classes such as homework and discussions. This research concentrates on studying how the Internet is used as a research tool within IS in academic settings.
The objectives of my research were to:
survey IS faculty literacy regarding the Internet as a research tool and to survey their opinions about the need for the Internet as a research tool;
analyze the potential advantages/disadvantages of a wide implementation and use of the Internet as a research tool at IS schools;
analyze the current status and role of the Internet as a research tool at IS schools as viewed by the IS faculty;
recommend an approach that may be used for evaluating the use of the Internet as a research tool within the educational environment of IS; and
recommend an approach that may be used to maximize the benefits of the Internet as a research tool within the educational environment of the IS.
These objectives were motivated by the fact that despite the widespread use of the Internet, there are no well-organized studies providing information about its use as a research tool and in classroom instruction at schools of information studies (IS) in the USA. Indeed, there are no well-designed and structured academic approaches to study the use of the Internet within information studies programs. Further, no data are available on the opinion and attitude of the faculty at schools of information studies concerning the use of the Internet and its future trends.
A research instrument has been developed to analyze the current status of Internet use at IS schools in the USA and to assess the opinion and attitudes of faculty at these schools with respect to the use of the Internet and its future trends within the scope of information studies programs. The developed instrument included 49 questions and statements designed to cover various aspects of the responder's profile, academic involvement, background on computers and the Internet, patterns of Internet use, and attitude and opinion on the use of the Internet at IS schools. The instrument was packaged into a survey and mailed to over 642 full-time faculty members at IS schools throughout the USA.
A qualification criterion was applied to exclude responses that were incomplete. One hundred and fifty complete responses were included for analysis, representing a random and representative statistical sample of the faculty at IS schools in the USA.
The results revealed that the vast majority of faculty at IS schools consider themselves to be either advanced or intermediate with respect to both computer and Internet experience. Looking up databases, catalogs, and/or indexes is the main purpose the faculty of information studies use the Internet. The highest rate of Internet use, for different purposes, is exhibited by assistant professors, followed by associates, and professors.
The data showed that the use of the Internet to communicate with faculty in the same department has the highest relative index of Internet use. It is followed by communication with students individually or in a group, communication with faculty in other departments and schools, and supporting instruction in the classroom. The highest relative index of support by the faculty was to the notion that current graduates of information studies programs should have effective Internet skills. This notion, along with other data, showed that the prevailing opinion among IS faculty is the need to master the use of the Internet and that future trends will comprehensively include Internet courses and skill development within the information studies curricula.
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