- Background of the Study
In this age of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the use of the Internet has become the order of the day. According to Audu (2001), the internet has many benefits in the academic cycle, providing timely access to sources of information. These sources of information are very useful to students in tertiary institutions in general and the final year students. In particular, especially since it is not possible for school libraries to stock every physical information resource they would ever need to support their academic pursuit as well as their research efforts.
The Internet is a network of hundreds of thousands of computers all over the world, connected in a way that lets other computers access information from them. So if a computer is connected to the Internet, in principle, it can be connected to any other computer on the network. Today, the Internet comprises more than 45,000 regional, national and international networks, which connect more than 30 million people in over 200 countries. The networks include organizations, schools, universities, companies, governments, groups and individuals (Gray, 1999).The Internet began in 1969 as ARPANet (Advanced Research Project Agency Network) by the United States Department of Defense to share military intelligence and research with university sources. The Internet has since the 1990s become a widely-used civilian tool for communication, research, entertainment, education and advertisement (Hinson and Amidu, 2006).
The Internet is a network of linked computers which are located at different points all over the world that provides easy communication between persons and organizations no matter where they are located (Ani, 2005). Evidently, Shitta (2002) sees the Internet as a communication super highway that links, hooks and focuses the entire world into a global village, where people of all races can easily get in touch, see, or speak to one another and exchange information from one point of the globe to another. It is the largest network in the world that allows computer users to communicate and access electronic databases with ease. The Internet is not a single network of computers but a network of networks, a large network that connects many smaller networks to one another (Nwafor and Ezejiofor, 2004).
The history of the Internet has long been linked to university education. This is because the adoption of the Internet in university system has intensified access to information and communication by providing un-reserved access to e-mail messages, web boards, online services and e-publications. In practice, much of the recent focus of technological development in Nigerian Universities has been concerned with promoting the use of the Internet as a teaching and learning tool. Internet is appealing to Universities for a number of reasons: it reduces the time lag between the production and utilization of knowledge; it promotes international cooperation and exchange of opinions; it furthers the sharing of information; and promotes multidisciplinary research.
Internet allows wide range of materials to be accessed by people across the globe irrespective of their location. Internet is an information resource medium that allow access to a wide range of materials from around the world to a local machine (Otunla, 2013). It is also a publishing medium which allows access to a large pool of information which was not possible in the past, thereby reducing the information gap between the students in developed and developing countries. It is user friendly, fast and enable access to information from anywhere around the world with no time limitation. Apart from using internet to obtain academic information, it also allows students to socialize with friends and family. Today, Internet has become a tool that many students cannot do without because they can read and listen to news, watch video, chat with family and friends, send and receiving mails and do many other things.
Although, the Internet is used mostly in obtaining information and there are other benefits that are derivable from its use such as social networking, interaction, collaboration, file sharing and transfer, etc., its major functional advantage stems from the willingness its users to share information with one another so that everyone might benefit. Daramola (2004) maintains that an observable trend in the Internet is that more and more resources are moving to it and in some cases being made available only in the Internet. This trend makes it impossible for students of tertiary institutions to succeed in their academic pursuit without ever needing the internet to a large extent.
The use of internet is now popular among undergraduate students. The internet offers many benefits which include access to information twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, that is, all the time, which was not possible before; enables one to work from any location; availability and accessibility of diverse resources that one cannot find in a library; up-to-date information, fast and more convenient than the library; a good supplement to library resources, to mention a few. Studies have found out that Internet use is beneficial to final year undergraduate students (Hong, Ridzuan and Kuek, 2003; Omotayo, 2006; Awoleye, Siyanbola and Oladipo, 2006).
It can be said that the Internet is one of the new technologies that support and promote the technological revolution that has taken place in education. This is because, since the Internet‘s infancy, higher education institutions have pioneered many innovations (Cookson, 2000). According to Daniel (1996), Information technologies integral to the Internet have allowed higher education to:
- expand access to education and training,
- raise quality,
- lower costs, and
- increase cost-effectiveness
- Statement of the Problem
The use of the internet for research and studies in universities is now a thing of necessity, and having access and a positive attitude toward the use of the Internet is a necessary condition for its effective use. The Internet is very useful in obtaining information for research as well as resources for the purpose of academics. So, the usefulness of the internet cannot be overemphasized.
An assessment of previous studies on the use of the internet by university undergraduates revealed that these studies placed too much emphasis on use of the internet for interaction with friends and peers and its effect on their academic performance rather than on the use of internet for academic purposes. Even so, there is a gap in knowledge as regards the use of internet by final year students as a subset of the whole university student population, as research outputs focusing on the use of internet by final year students of universities are scarce and almost non-existent. The present study seeks to fill this gap in knowledge.
- Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of this research is to study the Use of the Internet by Final Year University Undergraduate Students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. The specific objectives are:
- To determine the extent of accessibility of the internet to final year university undergraduates
- To determine the extent of usage of the internet by final year university undergraduates.
- To identify the purpose for which the internet is used by final year undergraduates.
- To establish the kind of information final year undergraduates search for on the internet
- To identify the most frequently used internet search engines by final year university undergraduates.
- To identify the challenges faced by final year university undergraduates in the use of the internet.
- Research Questions
- What is the extent of accessibility of the internet to final year university undergraduates?
- What is the extent of usage of the internet by final year university undergraduates?
- What are the purposes for which the internet is used by final year undergraduates?
- What kind of information do final year undergraduates search for on the internet?
- What are the most frequently used internet search engines by final year university undergraduates?
- What are the challenges faced by final year university undergraduates in the use of the internet?
- Scope of the Study
This research work is restricted to the use of internet by final year undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State.
- Significance of the Study
So much has been written and said about the usefulness and importance of the internet to students of all levels in general and tertiary level in particular and these usefulness and importance cut across several areas like social networking, collaboration, interaction, file sharing, etc. to say the least, the internet is a major support to the resources any academic library has in its collection as students can always benefit from the former, where the latter lacks the specific resources that are needed and because the internet is more easily accessible in most cases. But it should also be noted that not all stakeholders know the extent to which the use of internet will benefit students generally and final year students in particular.
Therefore, this study is will be of immense benefit to education policy makers, undergraduates, lecturers as well as researchers involved in similar or related research efforts. For education policy makers, the study seeks to identify how and what final year undergraduates as a subset of university undergraduates use Internet, thereby serving as a basis for the inclusion of Internet as a course into schools’ curriculum. For the undergraduate students, the study will highlight the different areas in which Internet can be used both for academics and in their everyday lives thereby exposing them to resources they may not have come across with. For lectures, findings from this study will be an eye-opener, exposing what undergraduates students do on the internet and enabling the academics to help guide the students in ensuring that their use of the internet is useful both academically and socially through inclusion in course works. Finally, for researchers, this study hopes to present useful information to serve as literature for review thereby help them position their own studies in line with their perceived gap in knowledge.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The only limitation faced by the present study is the fact that the study focused only on final year undergraduates in Ambrose Alli University and as such, during data collection, other level of undergraduate students as well as final year undergraduates other universities were excluded. Therefore, findings and conclusions from study may not show the exact situation of use of Internet by undergraduates in other universities in Nigeria.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Undergraduate: A university student who has not yet obtained a first degree.
Internet: A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.
Research: The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
Academics: of or relating to a college, academy, school, or other educational institution, especially one for higher education
Accessibility: The quality or characteristic of something that makes it possible to approach, enter or use it.
Search engine: A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.