Background to the Study
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that includes all technologies for the manipulation and communication of information. It encompasses any medium to record information (magnetic disk, tape, optical disks (DVD/CD), flash and paper record), technologies for broadcasting information (radio, television, cinema), technologies for communicating through voice and sound or images (microphone, camera, loudspeaker, telephone to cellular phones) and wide varieties of computing hard wares (Desktop computers, laptops, servers, mainframes, networked storage (Wikipedia, 2009). Along with this rapid technological advancement entered the “internet”, which has today created a borderless surge for information.
The internet is a complex network of networked computers that can convey all kinds of messages – including sounds, images and data. Within the global communication networks provided by the Internet, the World Wide Web provides a flexible network of networks ‘where institutions, businesses, associations and individuals create their own “sites” on the basis of which everybody with access can produce their own “home page” made of a variable collage of text and images’ (Castells, 1996). The internet has revolutionized how information is being disseminated holistically and the universities are not exception. Within universities in Nigeria, there is evidence of changes brought by internet which has become a point of first resort for information on practically anything and has implication far beyond teaching learning and research. With the use of the internet, information could be accessed in any subject field of interest through the help of the World Wide Web, electronic mails, news groups, electronic journals, electronic databases, video conferences and lately Web 2.0, thereby bridging the communication lacuna and global divide. ICT has an impact on the day-to-day life of education planners, yet knowing how to look for information, how to analyze it, how to represent it, how to evaluate it, and how to use it will certainly be competencies necessary for anybody who wants to compete in the new knowledge economy.
By Academics, we are specifically referring to the chosen group of men and women who are gifted either by nature or nurture to devote their lives to the business of unraveling society (Echezona and Ogwu, 2010). Academics are assigned certain basic functions in the Universities. These are:
- To promote inquiry and advance the sum of human knowledge,
- To provide general instructions and guidance to students for further readings
- To live and interact with colleagues and others in academic community
- To make direct contribution towards providing solutions to various practical national problems and
- To develop experts for various branches of the public services (Akrami ,2001) .
In a nutshell, these men are required to encourage the advancement and pursuit of learning in all its branches through study, teaching, research and community services.
As people who carry out research and communicate research reports, they need information in varying degrees to satisfy their information needs. The use of internet by the Academic Staff in Nigerian Universities should ordinarily be limitless as it has reduced to the barest minimum the stress and strain they pass through in their bid to source for and retrieve information to meet the challenges of teaching, research and community service. Internet has brought transformation into many aspects of life and has also been one of the biggest contributors in making the world a global village. Hossein (2000) states that internet access has assisted in facilitating education at length and that the use of the internet not only facilitates research and data management, but also helps in monitoring of achievement through learning outcome. She goes further to say that the internet disseminates information twenty-four hours in a day on current works on world events, discoveries and developments in all areas of knowledge. Internet has really helped in conducting a good research and easy dissemination of information in the 21st century and has opened up numerous possibilities for doing resource sharing at local and global levels and information on latest journals, books and discussion can be exchanged directly through the internet. There is no doubt that knowledge is a common good and ICT supported education contribute to making information more available to the people. Therefore the internet must be acquired in other to have access to avalanche information on the web.
Assessment of the academic staff internet literacy skills is very crucial in order to determine their state in this globalized era. Skill is the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy or both. Baron (2008) postulates that skill is a measure of a worker’s expertise, specialization and supervisory capacity. He further explained that it is the capacity to do something well; technique, ability which are usually acquired or learned, as opposed to abilities which are often thought of as innate. Generally skill refers to a person’s ability to perform various types of cognitive or behavioural activity effectively. To assess is to evaluate, measure, estimate or classify someone or something with respect to its worth, nature, quality, ability, extent or significance (Adam and Wood, 1999). It is the process of determining, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs possessed by someone.
Assessing internet literacy skills, Bacon (1995) identified seven dimensions of internet literacy skills which the academic staff in the universities require. It includes:
· Tool literacy – an ability to understand and use the practical and conceptual tools of information communication technologies.
- Resource literacy – ability to understand the form, format, location and access methods of information resources.
- Research literacy – the ability to understand and use the internet base tools relevant to the work of today’s researcher and scholar.
- Publishing literacy – the ability to format and publish research and ideas electronically, in textual and multi media forms (including via www. Electronic mail and distribution list and CDROMS). These have tremendously changed the art of writing.
- Communication literacy – the ability to communicate or get across to someone using the internet.
- Critical literacy – ability to evaluate critically the intellectual human and social strength and weakness potentials and limits benefits and cost of information technologies.
The idea of internet literacy has grown, taken shape and strengthened to become recognized as the critical literacy for the twenty-first century. Sometimes interpreted as one of a number of literacies, internet literacy is also described as the overarching literacy essential for twenty-first century living. Today, internet literacy is inextricably associated with information practices and critical thinking in the information and communication technology environment (Bruce, 2002). Being internet literate is more than being computer literate or being technologically literate, in the same way that being print literate implies considerably more than just being able to read and write.
Although technology promises new ways to promote literacy, educators’ reactions to it have been mixed. Some have embraced technology with unbridled enthusiasm while others have held it at arm’s length with a healthy skepticism. Yet the growing influence of technology has caused many educators to acknowledge that they need internet skills in other to thrive and compete equitably in this new economy.
This work therefore, seeks to determine the level of internet literacy skills of Academic staff in the faculties of Education and Social Sciences in University of Nigeria, Nsukka in recognition of its great impact in the actualization of their academic mission.
Statement of the Problem
Explosive development of internet in recent years has changed the way we create, analyze and share knowledge. The academic staff need varied information in other to carry out the basic academic functions assigned to them in the institution. The internet has been found to be of tremendous importance in improving the service provided by the academic staff as it ensures speed, efficiency, provision of up to date information, access to endless sources of information, collaborating and developing knowledge. The academic staff without internet literacy skills is shortsighted, limited and somehow localized which results to decrease in access to information, poor performance and low productivity.
Literature reveals that some of the academic staff especially in developing countries do not make equitable use of the internet. Notwithstanding the benefits attached to the acquisition of internet literacy skills of the academic, it appears that very little progress has been made as a result of some problems. These perceived problems could be attributed to some challenges. The knowledge of these challenges is essential for any academic staff to be aware of in the course of acquiring internet literacy skills. This shows that there is still a gap which needs to be filled in order to achieve effective internet literacy skills amongst the academic staff. Hence the need for the study which is designed to assess the present level of internet literacy skills of the academic staff in two faculties in the university of Nigeria Nsukka.
Purpose of Study
The main purpose of this study is to assess the Internet Literacy Skills of Academic Staff in the Faculties of Education and Social Sciences of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The specific objectives are:
- To examine the e-resources available for use by the academic staff of University of Nigeria Nsukka.
- To determine the level of Internet literacy skills possessed by the academic staff of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
- To ascertain how the academic staff of the University of Nigeria Nsukka acquire these skills.
- To determine the frequency of internet usage by the academic staff of University of Nigeria Nsukka.
- To find out the perceived benefits of internet literacy skills by the academic staff of university of Nigeria Nsukka.
- To determine problems affecting the internet literacy skills of academic staff of university of Nigeria Nsukka.
- To proffer strategies for enhancing the internet literacy skills of academic staff of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
- What are the e-resources available for use by the academic staff of University of Nigeria Nsukka?
- What is the level of Internet literacy skills possessed by the academic staff of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka?
- How did the academic staff of the University of Nigeria Nsukka acquire these skills?
- What is the frequency of internet usage by the academic staff of University of Nigeria Nsukka?
- What are the perceived benefits of internet literacy skills by the academic staff of University of Nigeria Nsukka?
- What are the problems that affect the internet literacy skills of academic staff of university of Nigeria Nsukka?
- What strategies could enhance the internet literacy skills of academic staff of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka?
Significance of the Study
It is expected that the result of the study will be of immense help to the following categories of people:
The findings of this research work could be found useful in repackaging programmes for the enhancement of internet literacy skills among academic staff which will in turn lead to self transformation and perfection in their jobs for increased output.
The findings of the study will equally bring to knowledge the problems that hinder the effective acquisition of internet literacy skills and the strategies for enhancing it which is essential for anyone undergoing the course of training to be aware of in order to be on a better footing for effective acquisition of internet literacy skills.
It is also hoped that the study will guide the university administration in actualizing adequate internet connectivity and its management to satisfy the needs of the ever-increasing researchers in the university.
The result of the study will equally enhance the structuring of technologically related courses in the school curriculum which will expose students to the acquisition of the internet literacy skills which thereafter, will enable them to have access to varied and up-to-date resources to support their academic mission and social interactions.
The work will equally add to the existing literature in the library and information science profession thereby giving other researchers the opportunity to benefit maximally from the work.
Scope of the Study
This work deals specifically with Internet Literacy Skills. The work is delimited to the assessment of internet literacy skills possessed by Academic Staff in faculty of Education and Social Sciences in the university of Nigeria Nsukka with respect to e-resources available for teaching and research, their level of the Internet literacy skills, the frequency of use of the Internet, how they acquired the skills, the perceived