1.1 Background to the Study
The use of electronic information resources in learning and research by undergraduates has become indispensable in this digital age where globalization of education is made possible through Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We are currently living in an information society where there is exponential growth in information accessible through ICT especially the Internet. This has given rise to virtual learning, learning at a distance and globalization of education. Tinio (2002) averred that globalization and technological change have created a new global economy that is powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge. This new global economy implies that as information continues to grow exponentially, schools cannot remain mere venues for the transmission of a prescribed set of information from teacher to student over a fixed period of time but schools must promote learning to learn as knowledge becomes more dynamic.
The emergence of electronic information resources (EIRs) has greatly transformed information handling and management in Nigerian university communities (Adeleke & Emeahara, 2016). Electronic information resources (EIRs) or simply electronic resources (e-resources) are information stored in electronic format, in computer or computer related facilities such as CD-ROMs, flash drives, digital libraries or the Internet. EIRs provide easy access to vast amount of information remotely which is becoming more popular globally (Tinio, 2023). EIRs offer have potential advantages and benefits over the print in an electronic information environment. The Internet is a computer network that connects millions of computers globally. It is referred to as global communication network, global information system, information superhighway, network of networks and cyberspace. Electronic resources have been embraced in academic spheres. It is used for general communication, information retrieval and instructional delivery to support teaching, learning and research activities in tertiary institutions. The Internet is referred to as a global information resource that contains all sources of
information across academic disciplines. The World Wide Web (WWW) helps in navigating through different electronic resources.
The use of electronic information resources (EIRs) affords researchers and students the opportunity to have access to global information resources, especially the Internet for their scholarly work. Higher education students make use of EIRs for many purposes; mostly for academic purpose that is, retrieving current literature for studies and prepare for examinations, to do class assignments, to carry out research projects, and to communicate and collaborate with peers and teachers via the Internet on e-mail or by following blog discussions (Adeniran, 2013). Students use the World Wide Web (WWW), e-books and e-journal articles to acquire knowledge and carry out research work (Ajayi, Shorunke & Aboyade, 2014). Course materials are provided on CD-ROM for students’ use which affords them to peruse as convenient. With the emergence of ICT, electronic information resources (EIRs) have become widely used and accepted among scholars and have increased tremendously in volume around the globe (Oyedapo & Ojo, 2013). All these resources have really influenced learning and improved the quality of education as this is evident in distance learning. However, literature revealed low usage of EIRs by undergraduates in Nigeria (Omoike, 2013).
The developments in ICT have changed the way information is organized, presented and accessed today. Information is a collection of meaningful, interrelated and organized data. It is a completely processed data. It implies a message received and understood. It is also a knowledge acquired either through study or through the reception of an instruction (Aina, 2004). Information helps reduce uncertainty, increases the state of knowledge of a person and aids his decision making. Tiwari, Tiwari, and Sharma (2013) opined that information is the key factor of any kind of research and development and it is a fundamental resource which is essential for survival in today’s competitive and wired world. Information is therefore vital to the success and achievement of every student and most importantly, higher education students in today’s educational system. The availability, access to and use of the right information will pave the way for the academic success of students in higher institutions of learning. This is provided by the library.
The University library is saddled with the responsibility of providing relevant information resources for users in order to support research, teaching, learning, and community service. The library is, therefore, a learning center and is regarded as the heart of the intellectual system of the university. The provision of library and information services is one of the essential support services that should be made available in any distance learning program. According to Sacchanand (2002), the library plays a significant role in enhancing the quality of distance education programs and is a key indicator in quality assurance. The university library selects, acquires, processes and makes available information resources in different formats ranging from print, audio-visual, microforms and electronic resources. The provision of electronic library makes it possible to have easy access to electronic information resources and services. This has been made possible by information and communication technology which has improved the potential for access in the information age as information resources are now made available in electronic format. Libraries, especially university libraries now subscribe to electronic information resources (EIRs) like e-book, e-journals, online databases, CD-ROM databases, and so on. These resources are invaluable resources that complement print-based resources (Dadzie, 2005) and they constitute a larger number in the university library’s bibliographic system.
EIRs have many advantages over printed materials in that they can be accessed anytime, anywhere and they do not occupy much space like printed materials. As Varghese (2008) asserted, the availability of information in electronic media has created opportunities for global access to information, enhanced the speed of service, increased the number of users served, increased the quality of information provided, and offered new opportunities for students to find relevant information. Students are able to access up-to-date international literature as soon as it is published on the Internet from the libraries, student IT centers, internet cafes, work places and their homes. It is therefore important that higher education students be equipped with the research tools necessary to access EIRs. This is particularly necessary for distance learning students. Moreover, Yalman, Basaran and Gonen (2016) averred that knowledge of ICT and related skills plays an important role in today’s educational activities. Therefore, every distance
learning students should possess these skills in order to be able to participate effectively and successfully as they make use of electronic information resources in learning.
In the understanding of Tinio (2002), ICT refers to forms of hardware and software applications that are used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. They may include high-tech devices such as computers and software as well as the more conventional technologies such as radio, television, and telephone technology, Digital Virtual Drive (DVD), satellite systems, video conferencing and electronic mail. Information technology has influenced the way libraries generate, organize, store, retrieve and disseminate information; libraries now rely on ICT to manage, access and deliver information services; ICTs have become powerful tools for teaching, learning, research and participation in the twenty first century. It has afforded people anywhere to learn at any time, making learning flexible. The application of ICT in education has increased access to higher education, improved quality of education and afforded students competitive advantage globally. Therefore, ICT skills are highly needed by students to engage in distance learning. Craig (2007) posited that ICT skills involve all the ability to receive digital data, the storage of the data on a computer device and the skill to retrieve the data and transmit it. ICT skills are the skills students need to access, evaluate, communicate information and produce document electronically by the use of computers and communication technologies (Buarki & Ian Murray, 2011). Effective use of electronic information resources depend on ICT skills and information literacy, hence, distance learning students must be ICT and information literate. In lieu of this, there is therefore the need to equip or prepare distance learners with the ICT skills necessary for them to function well in the digital environment.
Literacy has been defined by UNESCO (2005) as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. This involves a continuum of learning enabling an individual to achieve his or her goals, develop his or her knowledge or potentials, and participate fully in the community and wider society. According to the American Library Association (1989), an information literate person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and
effectively use the retrieved information. Information literacy is therefore the skills required to identify, locate, evaluate and to effectively use information to perform a given task or take proper decision. In addition, information literacy refers to people’s ability to understand the world of information, locate, evaluate, use and create information to solve problems and perform tasks. The Alexandria Proclamation of 2005 recognizes information literacy as basic human rights in the digital world as it empowers individuals in all walks of life to effectively use information to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. Information literacy enhances students’ use of the library and its resources. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) (2000) stated that information literacy competencies for distance learning students should be comparable to the standards set for on-campus students.
Information literacy is a booster for the utilization of the increasing amount of electronic information resources available which could lead to information overload. Thus, information literacy has been considered as a core competency to improve learners’ lifelong learning quality (SCONUL, 1999). Moreover, the library promotes lifelong learning and information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning as it enables learners at all levels to be informed, make decisions, and have control over their learning and interactions with the society. However, literature has revealed low level of information literacy of undergraduate students in Nigeria (Oyedum, 2010; Omoike, 2013) which could affect their ability to utilize required information resources for academic success and better decision making in life situations.
Bundy (2004) asserted that exhaustive information and technologies cannot itself make people more informed without a required skill and capacity to use information progressively. However, the possession of ICT skills enhances information literacy in this digital era. The rapid growth and application of the Internet in education with the increasing growth in available information has called for a much wider understanding of the importance of information literacy in the academic community and much more in the distance learning system. Librarians and teachers need to work together so as to help students achieve higher levels of literacy, reading, learning, problem-solving and ICT skills.
Information literacy is inevitable for higher education students if they will be able to use electronic information resources (EIRs), thus their abilities to use EIRs effectively depend so much on the their level of information literacy. An electronic resource is defined as any work encoded and made available for access through the use of a computer. Electronic Information resources (EIRs) can be defined as any information bearing materials that provide access to users in a digital or in an electronic format. EIRs or (e-resources) are an important components of academic institutions because they support learning that is, learning, teaching and research (Egberongbe, 2011). EIRs are very important in higher education and have become important component in library collections as substantial amounts are being devoted to these resources in the library budget. An electronic resource can be a bibliography of full text database that allows one to search for relevant articles in its subject area such as a book or a journal that is available in electronic format on web pages or in a CD-ROM. This includes electronic data made available by remote and direct access.
In view of the fact that technological revolution has brought about information explosion, the increase in information due to the advancement of ICT, higher education students therefore need to develop skills, especially ICT skills and to have the ability to identify, search, retrieve, evaluate, organize and communicate information in electronic format so as to enhance their learning and to be able to synergize with their peers and teachers or supervisor to carryout research. These are most times found out to be majorly lacking in most undergraduate students in Nigeria (Oyedapo & Ojo, 2013). Reasons that could be responsible for this include poor basic knowledge of ICT skills as most colleges in the country today lack both the personnel and the basic facilities for the teaching of computer. Some of those exposed to basic computer knowledge do not possess the requisite skill that could qualify them as being computer literate.
Proficiency in information literacy requires the constant use of EIRs through ICT to which many students lack access. A large proportion of access to EIRs is still through public information centers which are located mainly in the business areas of major cities and towns only, access to which comes at a cost. Learners located in semi–urban and distant rural areas may not even have access at all. Having personal access to EIRs devices such as i-pad, laptop, modem comes at even a higher cost (Ojeniyi & Adetimirin,
2013). The speed of the Internet servers in most public information centers is so slow it can discourage a learner just developing ICT skills as the slow speed increases the cost of time spent. Even for the few with personal electronic learning devices, inconsistent power supply is a major challenge. All these linked together could be said to contribute to the observed inadequate ICT skills and information literacy of distance learning students in Nigeria. This major lacuna is the gap that this study is set out to fill. This study is particularly important since distance learning students often times make use of electronic information resources which depend on the use of ICT for access, utilization, sharing and presentation. Therefore this study seeks to investigate the ICT skills, information literacy and use of electronic information resources by NOUN students in South-West, Nigeria.
Distance learning is the type of education where students seldom come in physical contact with teachers. This form of education includes weekend and online education programmes. The goals of distance education in Nigeria as specified in the National policy on education are to provide access to quality education and equity in educational opportunities for those who would have been denied, to meet special needs of employers by mounting special certificate courses for their employees at their work place, to encourage internationalization of tertiary education curricula, and to reduce the effect of internal/external brain drain in tertiary institutions by utilizing Nigerian experts as teachers regardless of their locations or places of work (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). This led to the initial establishment of the National Open University of Nigeria on 22 July, 1983 as a facilitator for open and distance learning in Nigeria but it was suspended by the government on 25th April 1984. However, the indisputable need for distance education in ensuring access, equity and education for all led to its resurgence on the 12th of April, 2001.
The open nature of distance education (DE) involves open admissions and freedom of students to select what, where and when to learn. It is flexible in terms of organizational structures, delivery and communication patterns, and makes use of various technologies to support learning (Okebukola, 2014). Distance education programme is open to anyone irrespective of sex, age, origin and place. The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institution, the first of its kind in the West African sub-region. NOUN has deployed enormous ICT facilities for
staff and students’ use in order to enhance distance learning. Also, NOUN employs a range of delivery methods to take education to the people and make education easier, interesting and achievable. Among the methods employed are television and radio broadcast of educational programmes, electronic transmission of materials in multimedia (voice, data, graphics and video) through fixed line (telephone or leased lines), terrestrial and VSAT wireless communication systems. However, there cannot be effective distance learning without the application of ICT both in the teaching and learning process, and this also cannot be without having the required skills to match.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The university education system is developing and advancing both in the application of technology to its teaching, learning and research processes. Distance learning is a peculiar type of university education with limited interaction between teacher and students thus, students have to rely more on different forms of learning resources. Towards achieving its set objectives, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) set up various ICT tools for use by staff and students. It has also acquired electronic information resources in an attempt to enhance the teaching and learning process to meet up with the global trend and standard of education. Electronic information resources have indeed become very important to higher education students in accessing up-to-e information at the right time and in the right form. They enable students to have access to quality information and offer opportunity for searching multiple database files per time which has reduced the time spent by students searching for information in the print media. Yet, the availability of these devices does not guarantee their effective and efficient use if students lack the corresponding skills for their use.
Despite the high dependence of distance learning on ICT and the great potentials EIR holds for effective teaching, learning and research in universities, studies have revealed that electronic information resources are grossly underutilized (Omoike, 2013). Perhaps, a low level of information literacy and inadequate or lack of ICT skills by students in tertiary institutions could be responsible for this situation. The need to achieve greater utilization of EIRs by undergraduate students who constitute a significant
percentage of the user community in universities makes it imperative to identify the factors affecting the effective use of these resources. It is against this background that the researcher intends to examine the relationship between ICT skills, information literacy and the use of electronic information resources by the distance students of NOUN in South-West, Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of the study was to examine the influence of ICT skills and information literacy on the use of electronic information resources by the students of National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria (NOUN). The specific objectives are to:
- find out the ICT skills possessed by the students of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in South-West, Nigeria;
- ascertain the information literacy level of students of the National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria;
- find out the types of electronic information resources used by the students of the National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria;
- ascertain the purpose of use of electronic information resources by the students of the National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria;
- find out the extent of use of electronic information resources by the students of the National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria;
- determine the relationship between ICT skills and use of electronic information resources by students of the National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria;
- determine the relationship between information literacy and use of electronic information resources by students of the National Open University of Nigeria in South-West, Nigeria;
find out the influence of ICT skills on use of electronic information resources by the students of the National Open University of Nigeria in So