Professors' Usage of Computer Mediated Technology

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the level of concerns of professors (n=108) who use or do not use Computer-Mediated-Communication (CMC) for instructional purposes at a midwestern land-grant research university. Data was gathered during the spring semester 1999, using the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ). The SoCQ was developed to assess the seven hypothesized stages of concern about an innovation, in this case Computer-Mediated-Communication. Sixty-three percent of the sample indicated they were users of CMC. Fifty-one percent indicated they did not use CMC for instructional purposes, and seventy-five percent of the users indicated they had never had formal training using the CMC system.

The sample indicated that the most intense concerns for the professors were in the categories of awareness, informational, and personal. The lowest intensity of concern for the professors was for the category of collaboration, indicating that the professors were more interested in fulfilling their self-needs concerning educational technology. Users of CMC indicated that their most intense concern was at the impact stage. Nonusers of CMC indicated that their most intense concern was for the self-stages

Introduction

Today, the Internet is considered the world's largest computer network. The Internet provides inexpensive and easy access to a fast-growing, global information service, for both providers and consumers of information (Ford, 1995). The Internet allows users to exchange textual and other messages and connect millions of people in business, academia, government, and organizations in more than fifty countries. The Internet is capable of retrieving software, pictures, and other information worldwide. People worldwide are using the Internet for communicating and to share resources for collaboration, but more than a global information service, the Internet is a social technology (Sproull & Faraf, 1995).

Computer-Mediated-Communication (CMC) (Romiszowki, 1997) pertains to any form of organized interaction between people, utilizing computers or the computer network as mediums of communication. CMC's main characteristics are interactivity, demassification, and asynchrony. Communication through computers can be synchronous (real-time communication) or asynchronous (delayed communication). CMC supports both synchronous and asynchronous communication in different combinations. Through the use of CMC, an individual can access information; an individual can communicate with many people, or numerous individuals can communicate with multitudes of people (Jonassen, 1996).

The use of e-mail and the World Wide Web (WWW) has become an integral part of academia. Educators have developed specific curricula, classrooms, and collaborative student projects to be incorporated when using electronic instruction (Jonassen, 1996; Romiszowki, 1989). Professors are incorporating CMC through computer networks for accessing databases, library information, and other resources online, and e-mail to communicate with students. Professors are utilizing listservs for conversations and debates on the Web. Professors worldwide are using e-mail and web pages for collaborative writing (Jonassen, 1996; Paulsen, 1994; Romiszowki, 1989)

Colleges and universities are remarkably conducive to the computer network. However, there has been resistance to many educational innovations introduced in higher education over the years. Some educators view CMC as another innovation that will come and go (Cuban, 1993). Nevertheless, CMC success will depend on acceptance in the academic realm (Rogers, 1986).

As a medium, CMC is still in the early stages of study. Due to CMC's newness in academia, there is not sufficient data available identifying CMC's effectiveness in the academic community. The study examined professors' usage of computer-mediated technology for instructional purposes. …