Internet access and usage by undergraduate students: a case study of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria.

Author:Adekunmisi, Sowemimo Ronke
Position::Report
 
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Introduction

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the scientific, technological and engineering discipline and the management technologies used in the handling of information, processing and application related to computers. ICT is also defined as the term used to describe the tools and processes to access, retrieve, store, organize, manipulate, produce, present and exchange information by electronic and other automated means. These include hardwares, softwares and telecommunications in the form of personal computers, scanners, digital cameras, handheld/PDAs, phones, faxes, modems, CD and DVD players and recorders, digitalized video, radio and TV and programs like database systems and multimedia applications (Gwary, 1988). Of these, there are the traditional and modern technologies of disseminating information. The traditional ICT products are the printed page, radio, television, films and so on while the modern technologies include the Internet, e-mail, voicemail, facsimile technology, electronic bulletin board, cellular telephones, CD-ROMS among others. These different tools are now able to work together, and combine to form-networked world, which reaches into every corner of the globe (UNDP Evaluation Office, 2001).

However, the use of ICTs in education process has been divided into two broad categories: ICTs for Education and ICTs in Education. ICTs for education connotes the development of information and communication technology specifically for teaching/learning purposes while the ICTs in education involves the adoption of general components of information and communication technologies in the teaching learning process [Olakulehin, (2007) quoted by Tella, Tella, Toyobo, Adika and Adeyinka (2007)].

Literature Review

The Internet is a globally interconnected set of computers through which information could be quickly accessed. Internet has become an invaluable tool for learning, teaching and research. Internet could be regarded as technology evolved in furtherance of the concept of paperless society. It is a super high wave invention, which is already advancing the cause of humanity of the greatest height especially in this millennium (Onatola, 2004). The Internet provides such facilities as Electronic Mail, Telnet, On-line Searching, Electronic Publishing, User Group/Listen, Usenet, Archie, Gopher, File Transfer Protocol, Veronica, Mosaic and World Wide Web (WWW).

The Internet sometimes simply called "the Net" is a worldwide system of computer network- a network of networks in which users at any one computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers). It was conceived by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. government in 1969 and was first known as the ARPANET. The original aim was to create a network that would allow users of a research computer at one university to be able to "talk to" research computers at other universities (http://searchwindevelopment.techtarget.com).

Today, the Internet is a public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The Internet has broken down barriers of communication and information access from anywhere in the world. It is often referred to as "Information Highway" because of its capacity to transmit a vast amount of information to anybody anywhere in the world. It is fast, reliable and does not have much restriction on content, format or geographical location. It also has a wide range of facilities which assist users to access the almost infinite information on the net. It thus offers the opportunity for access to up to date research reports and knowledge globally. It has thus became an important component of electronic services in companies, organizations, government, individual set-up as well as institutions especially libraries.

Adomi, Okiy and Ruteyan (2003) reported that the use of Internet has grown in most urban areas in Africa. Reporting further that as at 1966, 33 of the 54 African Nations have Internet public access services. Some of these countries include; Algeria, Angola, Central Africa Republic, Benin, Cote d'ivore, South Africa etc, while Nigeria had no live Internet public access services in her cities at that time. However, as at now every capital city and major towns in Nigeria now have Internet Public Access Services and as indicated by 2002 status report on the African Internet by Ojedokun (2001), the number of dial-up Internet subscribers was close to 1.7 million in Africa. Adomi et al (2003) further noted that there are now many thousands of cybercafes business centers in the major cities of Nigeria.

Though there is dearth of research on the use of Internet services in higher education in Nigeria, research elsewhere have indicated that various categories of the university community member are using Internet for various educational purposes. For instance, the works of Dyril (1994), Gallo and Horton (1994), Bruce (1995) and Fabry and Higgs (1997) who all studied different aspects of ICT implementation for educational purpose were of particular relevance.

Others like Cravener (1999) indicated that there is increasing faculty comfort with the use of ICT for instructional purposes, which have consequently improved effectiveness of online teaching. Bavakutty and Salih (1999) conducted a study at Calicut University, which showed that students, research scholars and teachers used the Internet for the purpose of study, research and teaching respectively. Laite (2002) surveyed 406 graduate and undergraduate students in his work, which revealed that 57.60% of the undergraduate students used the Internet 1-2 times per week and another 37.10% used it 1-2 times daily. 54.70% of the graduate students used Internet 1-2 times per week and 37.70% used it 1-2 times daily. The findings further revealed that the most used Internet service was e-mail while 100.00% of the graduate and undergraduate students used e-mail services. Abdelraheen and AI Musawi (2003) found out that the Internet is an important tool in the creation of a collaborative professional culture among faculty members and also improved students' opportunities for interaction with staff.

In Nigeria, Jagboro (2003) evaluated the level of utilization of Internet for academic research among postgraduate students spanning art and science based programmes at the Obafemi Awolowo University, he revealed that respondents ranked the use of research materials on the Internet fourth (17.3%) and concluded that the use of the Internet for academic research would significantly improve through the provision of more access points at departmental and faculty levels. Aduwa-Ogiegbaen (2005) in this work on "Extent of faculty members' use of Internet in the University of Benin, Nigeria" found out that lecturers of this university popular Internet uses were in searching for journals to write and publish their research articles; word processing; searching for relevant instructional materials; accessing of reference materials and the use of Internet in course.

Similarly, a study conducted by Anasi (2006) at University of Lagos, Nigeria on pattern of Internet use by undergraduate students revealed that the level of Internet use is low among the respondents from the Faculties of Education and Law. The study further revealed that though majority of the students browsed the Internet, many of them cannot design search strategies even though their Internet use had very high impact on their academic or career related activities. In another study conducted at Hezekiah Oluwasami Library by Olufemi (2006), her findings revealed a high percentage use of the Internet among the undergraduate students even though the access point for them was through the commercial cyber cafes where they paid for access time through their pocket...

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