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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 community-one 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).
While awake (1997) has it that the internet came as a result of the generation of interest in a “bombproof” network during the era of the cold war so much that if a part of the network were destroyed, data would still travel towards its destination with help from the surviving parts. Ibegwam, posits that, “the internet was designed in parts to provide communication network that would work even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack”.
Initially, when the internet emerged, the numbers of sites were small and it was fairly easy to keep tract of the resources of the internet that were available. However, things changed later in the operations of the internet when more universities and organizations got connected to the internet. This makes the internet a potential infinite space for the production and circulation of information. It is one of the most significant technological developments of the late 20th century. While printed materials have certain fixity and finitude, texts published via the internet have a much more fluid character.
The internet is a relatively new channel for scholarly resources and contain vast quantities of information that vary a great deal regarding its content, aim, target, group, reliability. Hence, it is important that the end user is aware of the diverse information available on the internet and educated in the criteria by which the information content should be accessed (Chapman, 2002). Internet use has become very popular in many areas as well as education in recent years. Accordingly, internet access has greatly increased over the last 20years (Berson, 2000). The internet is one of the beneficial tools in this era of IT world not only
for business but for academic point of view and enhances the skills and capabilities of student which assist them in studies and in professional life. Students use the internet as a hub for research in their various fields of study. This can be seen by the way the students consult the internet for assignments, presentations, research works and examinations.
Jagboro (2003) in his own research ascertain that 45.2% of postgraduate access the internet at the cybercafé in the university while only 8.2% use the library internet facilities. A greater percentage (38.24%) does that only on monthly basis while 39.7% spend one hour on each visit. The internet provides several opportunities for the academia. It is a mechanism for information dissemination and a medium for collaborative interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographical limitation of space (Jagboro, 2003). The internet is the world’s largest and most widely used network.
The internet has a range of capabilities that organisations are using to exchange information whether internally or to communicate externally with other organisations. The primary infrastructure for e-commerce, e-banking, e-business, e-learning and virtual library is provided by the internet technology. The internet might thus be described as a “sea of information” containing text which is not housed within a library and bookshop walls and subject areas span across all field of knowledge. The internet contains information more than the world largest or greatest information database.
The internet appearance in tertiary education was used as tools for researchers to communicate and share project work. Today the education domain is still one of the largest contributors to the internet (Jagboro, 2003). Since the inception of the ICT, the internet has acted as a store house of information. Students have been able to have a wide range of information round the clock and round the globe. Also effective use of the internet leads to day-to-day update of the happenings in
our society and this affects the academic performance of students in various fields. This has helped to increase the information quotient of students during studying, learning and research.
Students have only recently received the opportunities to use the internet to seek and obtain scholarly materials and consequently, knowledge on how effectively they make use of the channel is limited. Students information seeking culminates as they work on their theses. Many studies have been conducted regarding the type of information the end-users seek and obtain on the internet and in each circumstance they prefer electronic source to paper source (Tenopir et al..., 2003). According to their survey, approximately 50% of all the scholarly publication were obtained from the internet. He studied geography students use of the internet by analysing citations from a test and found out that 51% of the citation referred to sources on paper, 47% of the sources were from the internet and the rest was course material (Fescemeger, 2000).
Studies by Ojekun (2001) revealed that the internet has many benefit to the academic cycle; these include provision of round-the-clock access to a wide variety of information sources globally and the ability to discuss and share experience with colleagues to be able to derive maximum benefits from the attributes of ICT. Ozioko and Nwachukwu (2005) advised that end users must possess some skills. Ojekun (2001) also confirmed as he discovered that student at University of Botswana lacked skills and this greatly impended their meaningful exploration of the internet.
The internet now represents one of the most successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research and development of information infrastructure (Howe, 2007). The internet is a valuable source of information used by student in projects and assignments. With over 50million websites on the net, the chances are that information on any subject however
obscure can be found using appropriate search tools. it also serves as a useful tool for lecturers in helping to prepare lesson plans using a number of sites dedicated to providing educational material.
There are great possibilities for higher education at all levels through the use of internet because curricula can be developed collaboratively and educational materials distributed and updated more cheaply, offering additional ways for students to interact with their study materials as well as their instructors (Byron and Gagliardi, 2000). There is also pressure to make learning more flexible even for those students who have access to the internet on a university campus (Brown, 2011). Further, there are multiple forces driving internet expansion in higher education including globalisation and the need for workforce training (Twigg and Oblinger, 1996), learner on demand services (Milliron, 2000), digitisation, knowledge explosion and cost effectiveness (Bates, 2000).
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.
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