Internet Use among Faculty Members in the Changing Higher Education Environment at the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Internet provides access to unlimited sources of information and search engines is continuously being advanced to provide efficient ways to help users to find what they want. The Internet eases and increases access to a large amount of data, saves time and money, and obtains an opportunity to consult several experts with a single request (via discussion groups), and greater independence from specific times and places for information seeking (Savolainen, 1999).

Limited access to up to date materials in libraries of universities in developing countries is a main problem that impedes research and teaching. Interlibrary loans and document delivery projects have been inadequate to resolve this problem by themselves. The Internet makes it possible for users to have access to large volumes of information irrespective of their geographical location (Gifty Adika, 2003). The development of new technology makes direct access to information easier for users that was previously impracticable. Internet use as an extension of the classroom or as a vehicle for higher education is becoming increasingly widespread (Begum, 1999).

Internet use in Pakistani academic institutions and their libraries is creating an environment that is continuously changing. Multimedia and the Internet have further made the teaching and research functions of faculty members more challenging. The important features that have affected the quality of information are accuracy, currency, comprehensiveness and time. As the academic community is becoming aware of potential uses of Internet, these are being put to more use; there is a need to evaluate the purpose of utilizing Internet sources in order to provide relevant services. Such studies on Internet information usage pattern also facilitate library professionals to provide effective services by modifying old information provision process by using electronic tools.

The quality of higher education in Pakistan requires ongoing changes and development in the teaching-learning process. Faculty members in universities need to let go the concept of merely text-book oriented lecturing system in the changing higher education environment (Khan 1994). The countries with advanced education systems developed extensive teaching learning strategies, planned to train their students for a wider market place, through the ways of lectures, seminars, workshops, handouts, and Web-based tutorials. The faculty in Pakistan must identify and use new teaching strategies designed to support the teaching, learning, and research goals of the university. The further inducement for such a change have been the explosion and proliferation of information in various formats, changing patterns of information seeking and retrieving, hence the need for investigating Internet usage in this changing higher education environment. This is the first attempt to study the use of the Internet by the university faculty. Its findings should help the University in its plans and programmes related to e-learning and strengthen pertinent resources and services of its libraries.

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are:

* To explore the extent of Internet usage by the faculty members in the changing environment of higher education.

* To solicit their purpose of seeking information on Internet.

* To investigate their purpose of using Internet services and resources.

* To find out their preferred place for Internet usage and time spent per week.

* To find out what problems are faced by faculty members in seeking information on Internet.

Research Design

The data for this study was acquired by using a survey questionnaire containing both open and closed ended questions. A thorough review of related literature on the Internet was conducted. Various types of literature on Internet; journal articles, abstracting services of journal papers (e. …