Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Factors Affecting Faculty Web Portal Usability

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Factors Affecting Faculty Web Portal Usability

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the features of the web is a web portal. A portal, in general, is a gateway to information and services from multiple sources (Tatnall, 2005 cited in Manouselis et al., 2009) that facilitate users' access to the content in one or more learning repositories (Holden, 2003 cited in Manouselis et al., 2009). It has a database that helps users store, locate, and retrieve learning resources (Holden, 2003 cited in Manouselis et al., 2009) in an easy centralized access to all relevant network content and applications (Tatnall & Davey, 2007 cited in Tatnall, 2009). Since the introduction of web portal concept from search engine sites such as Yahoo!, Excite, and Lycos (Tatnall, 2005 cited in Tatnall, 2009), "portals have now become an extremely important aspect of the Web and are now quite ubiquitous" (Tatnall, 2009, p. 1). In fact, Bricolo et al. (2007) found out that web portals are the most visited site among Italian families.

As technology becomes a key tool for good teaching (Adonis, 2006), academic institutions promote and encourage optimization of the Internet technology for information dissemination. The web is becoming an educational medium for universities (Manouselis et al., 2009). Higher education institutions have developed their own web portals because "universities wish to project the impression that they offer the most convenient service and excel in the field of Information Technology--this allows them to attract superior students" (Lee et al., 2009, p. 2). Manouselis et al. (2009) called it educational web portal. This serves as a gateway to information and services of some learning or teaching relevance (Manouselis et al., 2009).

The University of the East (UE) in Manila is one of the universities that recognize the power of the Internet. It continuously uses its financial resources to "connect" to the rest of the world and to support online learning. To realize these goals, UE developed its website and faculty web portal (Figures 1 and 2). In the convenience of their own homes, students and teachers can communicate undisrupted (Figure 2-f). Teachers can post lectures, notes, seat works, assignments, and even quizzes in advance (Figure 2-e).

Students can download these files and be kept informed of the lessons. Teachers can view their academic profile (Figure 2-a), know their teaching load for the current semester (Figure 2-b), and download class lists to verify students' inclusion in the class (Figure 2-c). They can research online through its e-journals and other scholarly works (Figure 2-d). They can post the grades of the students so that they will know their class standing (Figure 2-e). Hence, a faculty web has been an access point for the diverse faculty-related undertakings that include reviewing literature, faculty-student instructional transactions, blogging, student-teacher evaluation, and record keeping.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Development and maintenance of a web portal is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, it is imperative that the web portal be designed accordingly to achieve its optimum use. The faculty portal section in the UE website was designed with elements for academic transactions (class list downloads, lecture uploads, student-teacher forums, and evaluation results) and online research (e-journals, e-books, articles, and case studies). However, despite the elements supplied in the design, there is still a need to study the factors that significantly affect the web portal usability. There is a wealth of literature discussing website usability (e.g., Palmer, 2002; Tarafdar & Zhang, 2005; Cappel & Huang, 2007; Pearson & Pearson, 2008; Pang et al., 2009) but very few studies have been conducted to investigate web portal usability.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

This study was conceived to address this gap. Specifically, it aimed to answer the following questions. (1) What are the faculty-related factors in terms of age, highest educational attainment, level of computer applications and Internet skills, commitment of use of faculty web portal, and presence of internet access at home? …

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