A Comparison between College Faculty Users and Non-Users of an Academic Home Page

By Bee, Richard H. | College Student Journal, June 2000 | Go to article overview

A Comparison between College Faculty Users and Non-Users of an Academic Home Page


Bee, Richard H., College Student Journal


Introduction

In recent years many technological advances have taken place that have dramatically changed the lifestyles of individuals and institutions. The introduction of a particular good or service may bring immediate acceptance and a rapid growth in demand. Products such as the citizen band radio, video cassette recorder, camcorder, cellular telephone, musical CD and personal computer are but a few examples of this exponential pattern of growth in demand.

Accompanying the growth of the personal computer has been the World Wide Web or "Information Superhighway". In a relatively short period of time the WWW has become an integral part of the world economy and has every indication of continued rapid growth. For this research, we are confined to the WWW as a part of web-based instruction on a college campus.

The phrase WWW is multidimensional, however, for purposes of this research will arbitrarily be defined into three categories which are not necessarily mutually exclusive: (1) e-mail communication, between faculty and students as well as between students; (2) information/data collection techniques suitable for research and term papers, and (3) faculty home pages where course related material can be available twenty-four hours a day. To be sure there is an overlap between the categories such as a home page is an information gathering device, however, the definitional categories will ultimately be beneficial for this research design.

It is estimated by the authors of the Campus Computing Project that e-mail is now used in almost a third of college courses. (Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 1997). The report concludes that "assisting faculty to integrate technology into instruction," and "providing adequate user support" are the most challenging issues facing college administrators. (Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 1997, page A10). E-mail communication represents a timely and efficient technique of communication which generally has met little resistance to its adoption.

There are a plethora of possible uses of the WWW as an avenue to gather data or information on virtually any subject. The widely used site provided by William Goffe, "Resources for Economists", provides current statistics on many diverse national and international variables.

A home page represents an educational tool specifically designed by its author to serve a particular purpose. The focus of this research design is specifically on faculty home pages which may provide basic course information such as class meeting times, schedule of homework assignments and examinations, office hours of faculty member, the course syllabus, tutorials and class lecture notes.

While for most college faculty the use of a home page is voluntary, officials at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have declared that a home page is mandatory for every course taught in the College of Letters and Science. (Chronicle of Higher Education, August 1, 1997, page A21). The implementation of a mandatory home page requirement has generated many concerns ranging on the students' side from the additional "materials fees" that would be required to implement and maintain the program to faculties' concerns about the time necessary to develop and maintain the home page as well as a tendency to encourage student absenteeism.

While there is not doubt as to the popularity of the WWW including e-mail, data information collecting capabilities and home pages, nevertheless many college professors are still reluctant to become active participants particularly in the implementation of home pages. The procedure whereby faculty decide to become participants of the WWW can be viewed as a decision making process to purchase, consume or patronize that particular service. In like manner, those faculty who have opted not to utilize the WWW can be considered as non-consumers or non-purchasers of the service. …

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