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1.1 Background of the Study

The internet can be conceived as a rich, multi-layered complex ever-changing text for information dissemination and a medium for collaborative interaction between individuals and computers without regards for geographical limitation of space (Jagboro, 2003). The internet today is a worldwide entity whose nature cannot be easily or simply defined. To many, the internet is a large computer network linking together millions of smaller computers at numerous sites in various countries belonging to thousands of business, government, research, educational and other organisations. To the internet users, the internet is a global communityone with a very active life .The population of the internet is several million people whose computers are connected in a fashion permitting remote login, file sharing and transfer and other activities. The internet also connects too many other networks for exchange of messages such as email, online services etc.

Today, the internet has an impact on every facet of our life including business operation, education, communication, entertainment, social activity, shopping and so on. Many universities around the world are expanding their investment in information technology (IT) and specifically the internet and are actively promoting the internet use. From a student’s perspective, learning using online tools is multidimensional. It may entail a multitude of variables such as prior student knowledge of IT, experience in its usage, perceptions of IT usage, computer competencies and background demographics.

The awake magazine (1997, June 22) has it that internet began as “an experiment by the US department of defence in the 1960s to help scientist and researchers  from widely dispersed areas work together by sharing scarce and expensive computer and files. This goal required the creation of a set of connected networks that would act as a co-ordinated whole”. In his own view of the origin of the internet, Ibegwan (2002) opines that the internet is a huge computer network made up of many individual computers as servers’, which commenced in 1969 under a contract by the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA).

Another importance of the internet is that it affords students (all over the world but more beneficial to those in developing countries) the opportunity to access a large pool of data which could help reduce the information gap resulting from the disadvantages of the educational opportunities (Komerik, 2005). The University library has a role to play through the provision of vast amount of information sources via the mediation of internet access. Resources that the library makes available must be integrated with one another and within the library environment and library services must support learning and research behaviours of its users. 

Furthermore, users want to access and use items from more than one content provider; also they ultimately interact with various user interfaces but even then, each service has a different user interface for discovery, with its unique set of “presentation services” that the user must learn and understand (Walker, 2006). Walker (2006) further stated that E-access opens up greater opportunities for people to find and get to an increasing corpus of knowledge. Search engines such as Google, Msn and Yahoo are now targeting the traditional library user; and libraries are under increasing pressure to develop and offer new paradigms for discovery that meet the changing expectations of end users.

With increasing impact of information and communication technologies on higher education, all those concerned with higher education are attempting to grasp how ICT could help in modernizing the process of teaching, learning and research. With the advent of the internet, the following dilemma arises in the educational system: Leaner is not dependent on teacher for interaction; and teachers can give lecturers virtually to unknown learners. So in this era, teachers and students can carry forward their work on the internet in ways that are similar to and tightly intertwined with the traditional ways that they learn, teach and study in libraries, classrooms, laboratories, seminars, conferences and so on. The internet can provide access to essentially unlimited resources of information not conventionally obtainable through other means.

The internet has broken down barriers of communication access from anywhere in the world. It is fast, reliable and does not have restrictions on content or format. It also has unlimited range of facilities which assist users to access almost infinite information on the net. It offers the opportunity for access to up-to-date research reports and knowledge globally. It has thus become an important component of electronic services in academic institutions. Hence the internet has become an invaluable tool for learning, teaching and research (including collaborative research).

Prior to the use of ICT for acquisition, processing and dissemination of information, university teaching, learning and research were restricted to student’s dominical institutions library or by extension those materials made available through inter-lending (Anunobi, 2006). However with globalisation through the internet, Carbo (2003) submitted that the world is shrinking resulting to immediacy of information. Consequently, the mode of acquiring and disseminating information for university education changed from physically available prints to e-materials with virtual reality (Anunobi, 2006). As a result of that, Akintunde (2002) as cited in Anunobi (2006) asserts that any attempt to have meaningful academic communication can be successful only with the use of ICT which presents information in real time and space. No wonder youngsters, especially students and researchers spend most of their time in the cybercafé. Where the latter is not available in the university community, they risk travelling a further distance to transact one business or another in the internet (Anunobi, 2006).

The members of the University community use the internet for the facilities it provides which according to Ikoro (2002) include e-mailing, World Wide Web (WWW), browsing, telephoning and telex/video conferencing. Available also in the internet are audio broadcasting, news and discussion/chat group facilities (Anunobi, 2006).

There are now thousands of internet home pages which serve as information services for all institutions and organisations. Most universities, polytechnic and colleges of education throughout the world have established their presence on the internet, thereby making it possible for researchers to access past and current research publications. Prospective students can also access information on courses being offered by institutions as well as their admission requirements. The only cost that readers incur is the standard internet connection fees and hourly rate (Jagboro, 2003).

However despite the added benefits to this tool for learning, teaching and research, a number of problems still plagues internet connectivity and affect usage in Nigerian university system (Jagboro, 2003). Omotayo (2006) identified some of these problems as slowness of server and payment of access time. Also the internet is unorganised and websites appear and disappear, move or mutate every day. While the internet is difficult to search, it is even more difficult to search well. Moreover, it consists of both useful and useless information co-existing (New Mexico state library 2002). The internet has also affected student’s performance both positively and negatively. While some make use of the internet for research, studying and learning, others make use of the internet to access to accounts of people and steal from them and also access to prohibitive and damaging sites that can create violence in the lives of the students.  

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The lack of funds for effective running of the universities and especially their libraries has adversely affected adequate provision of modern books, updated literate materials and journals where available, are now expensive as warranted by the economic recession, global political crises and currency devaluation compounded by the information explosion that we have witnessed in the global electronic village that the world has turned to. In view of those afore stated problems, Nigerian students have now turned their attention to the use of internet for the purpose of studying, conducting research and obtaining general information. Therefore, with more attention given to the internet as a result of its numerous benefits, students who have access to this technology may lose some level of significant interest in using the library. The study therefore is an attempt to access the effectiveness of the use of internet services and how it affects student’s academic performances

1.3    Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to find out the use of internet services and how it affects student’s performance. Specifically, the aims of the study are to 

i.      Find out the frequency of internet use.

ii.      Find out the most preferred location of internet use.

iii.     Find out the purposes for browsing the internet.

iv.     Find out the most used internet service.

v.     Find out the influence of internet use on academic performance.

vi.     Find out the problems faced by students during internet use.

1.4    Research Questions

The following research questions have been formulated to guide this study.

i.      What is the frequency of internet use among the students?

ii.      What is the most preferred location of internet?

iii.     What are the purposes for browsing the internet?

iv.     Which is the most used internet service? 

v.     Does internet services influence student’s academic performance?

vi.     What are the problems faced by students in using internet services?

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study could be beneficial for students as well as for the institution. The valuable feedback gotten from respondents should help students to realise the benefits of internet in their education. Institutes can invest more in internet facilities to enhance the academic performance of their student and produce better results. Note that the relevance of internet facilities is measured by how effective, sufficient and accessible it is to students and users. The research will also provide in-depth insight into the various internet facilities and how students can be able to use them to improve academic performance.

1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The self-report criterion is a limitation. Future research should employ more objective measures of internet use. This study covers all regular undergraduate students in University of Ilorin, Nigeria. These are 100 - 400 levels student including 500 levels law. The study therefore excludes centre for distance learning and continuing education (CDL and CE) students and sandwich students. Also, the study is not restricted to any gender. It includes both male and female, and undergraduates at all level of study.

1.8.1 Abbreviations and Definition of Terms  

1.8.1    Abbreviations 

ICT – Information Communication Technology 

ARPA- Advanced Research Project Agency

E-Commerce- This relates to commerce using electronic resources and      means E-Banking-This relates to the electronic system of banking which is done in developed countries of the world.

E-Business- This relates to business transaction that is done through electronic means. Example is the internet buying and selling with credit and masters card. 

E-Learning- This is the use of electronic materials and equipment’s for teaching and learning in institutions

NSF – National Science Foundation

NCES – National Centre for Education Statistics

GVU – Graphical Visualisation and Usability

WWW – World Wide Web

ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

IETF – Internet Engineering Task Force

URL – Uniform Resource Locator

1.8.2 Definition of Terms

i.      Internet: This is a combination of networks with database of information which is interconnected to serve users. 

ii.      Performance: this relates to the results and appraisal gotten from studying samples.

iii.     Undergraduates: these are students in institutions of higher education.

iv.    Information and Communication Technology (ICT): refers to computer based tools used by people to work with the information and communication processing needs of an organisation, government agencies or individuals. It covers both the software and hard ware devices that are used in the information processes.

v.     University: refers to an educational institution designed for instruction, examination or both of students in many branches of advanced learning, conferring degrees in various faculties, and often embodying colleges and similar institution

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