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USE OF INTERNET BY THE FACULTY MEMBERS OF

MIZORAM UNIVERSITY: An Analysis

By
Julie Lalthlanthangi
M.Phil
Dept. of Lib. & Info. Sc.
Mizoram University

Abstracts

Internet is one of the most wonderful inventions of 20th Century.


There is no area where Internet is not being used. For teaching, learning
and research, its usefulness and potentialities has been tested. This study is
mainly concerned with the Internet use behavior of the faculty members of
Mizoram University with reference to their studies. It is concerned to
identify the role of Internet in providing information and also to determine
the frequency to use the Internet as well as to identify the reasons for
seeking information through Internet by the faculty members. It also deals
with the difficulties that teachers experience in obtaining required
information from the Internet as almost every faculty is trying to locate the
recent information available with the Internet in the area of his interest.

Introduction

Advances in technology gave birth to many new interdisciplinary


fields including Information Technology (IT). The technological revolution
in the last four decades has made a tremendous impact on the way
information is processed, stored, retrieved, communicated and disseminated.
The growth and development of IT is one of the most significant
achievements of the present century. It is considered as one of the key
factors in shaping the present societies and formulating technologies for the
future.

The emergence of computer is one of the hallmarks in the revolution


triggered by the networking technology. This technology has not only
changed the ways computers worked and the way people worked with
computers, but also have made a profound impact in different areas,
especially in those of learning and communications. It has shrunk the world
and brought people together. The influence of this technology can be found
almost in every walk of life.
Information Technology (IT), as defined by the Information
Technology Association of America (ITAA) is “the study, design,
development, implementation, support or management of computer-based
information systems, particularly software applications and computer
hardware.” In short, IT deals with the use of electronic computers and
computer software to convert, store, protect, process, transmit and retrieve
information, securely.

In this definition, the term “information” can usually be replaced by


“data” without loss of meaning. Recently it has become popular to broaden
the term to explicitly include the field of electronic communication so that
people tend to use the abbreviation ICT (Information and Communication
Technology). Strictly speaking, this name contains some redundancy.

In recent times, computers are being used for a number of wide and
varied applications, ranging from communicating to each other from remote
corners of the world to gathering of information, downloading software and
even playing games.

In course of time, computers were interconnected to form computer


networks. Networking allowed sharing data as well as resources stored in
one computer with another. More and more networks were formed in due
course. As the number of networks grew, computer networks located in
different places were connected to each other to form larger networks.
Computers spread their ‘net’ across the world, and thus emerge the era of the
Internet.

Internet and its services

The Internet, or simply the Net, is the publicly available worldwide


system of interconnected computer networks that transmits data by packet
switching using a standardized Internet Protocol (IP) and many other
protocols. It is made up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic,
domestic and government networks. It carries various information and
services, such as electronic mail, online chat and the interlinked web pages
and other documents of the World Wide Web.

Internet is worldwide, publicly accessible network of interconnected


computer networks that transmit the data by packet switching. It is a global
network connecting millions of computers scattered in more than 100
countries. These computers are linked into exchange of data, news, and
opinions.

These days the Internet seems to be everywhere. Web addresses


appear on televisions advertisements and billboards. There are TV shows
and magazines devoted to the Internet. And every new computer program
that comes out has some Internet features. It has revolutionized the way we
live in the society and work in offices, the industries, etc. Its incredible
growth, spearheaded by the networking technologies, has influenced every
walk of life making it imperative for everyone to understand the utility of
this global strategic tool. The Internet has caused a great revolution in the
society, allowing people from all over the world to communicate their ideas
and feelings. The Internet has also changed the way the society treats
people. It has allowed minor groups much more power than they had in real
life. There are many changes to society because of the Internet; whether
such changes enhance or ruin our life is up to us.

Internet provides easy access to ever increasing volume of


information. It is a pool of information contributed by more than 100
countries and it is a powerful dissemination tool. Internet is one of the boons
of information technology. Introduction of Internet and Web technology has
reduced the cost, time and manpower of publishing documents. Internet
provides a wealth of information such as online E-Books, E-Journals, E-
newsletter, and E-database. The vast resources can be accessed by the
library and information centre and can be provided to the users.

There are several services that are provided by the Internet. Some of
the major services can be basically grouped into different heads such as
electronic mail or e-mail, Internet telephony, World Wide Web (www),
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and so on.

As the ‘internetworking’ is getting stronger, different activities of


people such as learning, teaching, communicating, banking and so on has
been taking new shapes. Internet is proving to be the single most significant
phenomenon offering never ending opportunities. Once you know the
information that you want to find, how to find it, where to find it and how to
access it, the Internet becomes an extremely powerful resource
irrespectively of whether you are using it for work, education, entertainment
or just for the fun of exploring. Once you know how to send and receive
electronic mail, subscribe to mailing lists, joint and participate in discussion
groups and Internet chats, your power to communicate with people
anywhere in the world increases dramatically.

Application of Internet in Libraries

Internet provides instant access to billions of information


sources/database, which include books, reports, journals, video films, sound
recordings, and others on topics. Quality and success of any activity depends
on effective use of IT for supporting activities. The librarians and
information professionals have a vital role to play in bridging the
information gap.

The Internet has become an indispensable resource for special


libraries worldwide to enhance the collection, improve services and
operations. It has become the very important information access point; it has
spread within the library community. Internet has incorporated into different
areas of library services and respective responsibilities. The designations are
changing from traditional to web based titles. This effect can be seen from
direct service positions to upper-level administrative jobs to perform
Internet related functions. The personnel’s are integrating the traditional
library service into modern technological services.

As library is meant for providing information and due to information


explosion, fast information services are required. Internet is working to
make the work easier and reduce the time lag in providing the information
even if it is located somewhere at far. Basically Internet services provide the
networking by connecting with other computers, including library catalogs,
moving files and texts, sending and receiving e-mail, and even for searching
of database. Some of the other functions are read news from many different
sources, software finding. Internet has not only helped in accessing the
information but also introduced new ways for storing, moving, finding and
communicating the information among themselves and the users. Internet
has opened various aspects for reference and public services. As various
dictionaries, census information and CIA World Fact Book are available
form numerous websites, so ready reference service can be provided at
greater speed.

Internet has made simple and speedy purchase of information sources


like books, journal, and electronic publications. Many publishers’
catalogues, tools like books in print as well as forms for ordering documents
are available on the Internet. Librarians can check current publications on
the area of activity of the institution that maintains the library; confirm the
price etc and place order online on the day of publication itself.

Internet has made possible saving of journal budget by sharing access


to electronic journals. Documentation has also become easy and efficient
because Internet and the computers enable the quick updating and
dissemination of required information. Internet can be used for providing
short range and long range reference services because various primary and
secondary sources of information are available online from many sites.

Today in libraries access to on-line information service has become a


standard part of library practice and libraries have acquired CD-ROM’s and
have mounted them on campus networks for wide access. Scholarly
publication and many other forms of publications are increasingly moving
towards electronic delivery to end-user. In this context, the role of the
library and that of the librarian is changing from being the provider of
information to the facilitator of information. Under the circumstances
libraries need to redefine their role.

Mizoram University: An Overview

Mizoram University was established on 2nd July 2001 by Mizoram


University Act, by an Act of Parliament bestowing the youngest Central
University certain unique features and was notified by the Gazette of India
on 25th April 2000 as a Central University. Thus, Mizoram University
becomes functional and Prof. A.K.Sharma was the first Vice Chancellor who
occupied his office on 2nd July 2001.

The objectives of the University, as laid down in the act are “to
disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research
facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit, to make provisions
for integrated courses in humanities, natural and physical sciences, social
scientists, forestry and other allied disciplines in the educational
programmes of the University and to pay special attention to the
improvement of the social and economics conditions and welfare of the
people of that state, their intellectual, academic and cultural development”.
Keeping these objectives in view, Mizoram University has embarked on
various programmes/schemes in terms of academic and administrative
development.

In Mizoram University, there are 6 Schools and under it there are 27


departments. The University has its own Website (www.mzu.edu.in) that can
be accessible through Internet for better exposition of information about the
University as well as the study programmes undertaken by the University
from time to time. The Website is also constantly updated which provides
the latest information about the University.

The members of the faculty of the Mizoram University include highly


acclaimed scholars and researchers with international and national repute,
exposure and quality publications to their credit. They are led by Prof. Amar
Nath Rai, a renowned academician who is at present the Vice Chancellor of
this University

Mizoram University Computer Center is providing computing


facilities to students, teaching and non-teaching staff of the University as
well as imparting technical knowledge to students and staff alike. There are
at present, as many as 25 high end computers available for the users.
Broadband Internet connection is provided through VSAT and the users can
get useful resources from the Net. A leased-line Internet connection with 2
Mbps bandwidth is commissioned.

Computer training programme for non-teaching staff of the


University has been chalked out and planned to start during academic
vacations. The trainings will be for basic and intermediate levels. The main
objectives of these trainings will be preparing the employees for E-
governance.

The Computer Center is Data Center for Campus Networking, which


has covered all existing Academic and Administrative buildings. The
Campus Network runs on a robust optical fibre backbone with a number of
IP Phones. The Internet connection is shared over the campus LAN. As
many as six high-configuration Windows and Linux servers are running
presently.

The Centre had developed Intranet applications such as, Intranet


Mail, Intranet Website, etc. LAN messenger software was installed in all
computers and it is being extensively utilized by all employees for quick
communications such as sharing of files, data and voice chat, etc.

It has licensed copies of software such as Oracle 10g, SPSS 15.0, e-


Thrust antivirus/security packages along with a number for Microsoft
products which are covered under Campus Licensing Agreement.

List of the E-Resources Provided by UGC-Infonet Digital Library


Consortium to the Computer Centre include:

1. Emerald (LIS Collection)


2. Blackwell Publishing
3. Cambridge University Press
4. Institute of Physics Publishing
5. Oxford University Press
6. Taylor & Francis
7. Springer Link
8. JCCC (gateway portal)
9. Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID)

Mizoram University marches ahead and despite some initial teething


problem, has achieved many notable results. It has clear vision for its future
growth and has the promise and potential of becoming one of the most
reputed institutions in the country.
Information Seeking Pattern

There is no field of human activity where information is not a


component whether it is research and development, business and industry,
government affairs, education, and training. The information has to be
acquired, processed, stored, retrieved and disseminated. Indeed the
performance in all these spheres of activity depends largely upon the
availability of information at the right time in adequate quality and quantity.
All human activities result in the creation of information which is mostly
communicated through various media.

The information handling activities are to be based entirely on the


needs of the users. The user categories have different needs for information
depending upon their functions, responsibilities and duties. The user group
belongs to government officials, legislators, parliamentarians, researchers,
teachers, students, and so on. Information needs vary distinctly among these
categories of users. The matching of information needs to sources of
information has to be based on the careful assessment of information needs.
Use of information, gaps in information requirements to meet variety of use
has become the focus of study today.

Information seeking pattern of the individuals is an important item in


getting information relevant to their needs. Such a big area, such as Science
and Technology depends on the intellectual and educational factors that the
user might have undergone. The profession of the users also has the major
say in their information seeking. A teacher or an academician would usually
express his need in an expressible form whereas a researcher would express
the same in a very hazy fashion.

For the researchers of all disciplines, information occupies a special


place in their daily life. It has been indicated through several studies that the
information need of researchers can be simply and easily listed and their
behavior quite safe predicted; many of these studies have assumed that
information is a discrete, even concrete reality. It is a commodity to be
acquired and can be contained in discrete visible packages of equal value.

In the present era of information and knowledge revolution, the


increase in information available on the Web has affected information
seeking behavior. Innumerable types of information, in a large variety of
containers and in many different locations are all available in one place. In
the modern society, the types of information and the media which present
them have became manifold and multifarious, offering men and women vast
selection. Regardless of which group in a human society is discussed, each
one bases its actions upon current information and discards the earlier data.
Philosophies emphasize the direct, experimental acquisition of knowledge in
the material, physical plane of existence as the most proper form of
information. So, no one can deny that knowledge and information are vital.

Information seeking pattern is the purposive seeking for information


as a consequence of a need to satisfy some goal. In course of seeking, the
individual may interact with manual information systems such as newspaper
or a library, or with computer based systems such as the Web. It involves
personal reasons for seeking information, the kinds of information, which
are being sought, and the ways and sources with which needed information
is being sought. Information seeking pattern is expressed in various forms,
from reading printed material to research and experimentation. Scholars,
students and faculties actively seek current information from the various
media available such as encyclopedias, journals and more currently,
electronic media.

Findings

The present study aimed to examine the use of Internet by the faculty
members of Mizoram University. The data for research project was gathered
through questionnaire answered by faculty members of Mizoram University.

The main objective was split up into specific sub-objectives. The


sample of study included faculty members i.e. lecturer, reader and professor
from all departments in the University. The questionnaire was designed in
order to systematically collect data concerning Internet seeking behavior of
faculty members.

The important findings of the study are following:

• Majority of the faculty members of Mizoram University have a Ph.D


Degree (61.9%).
• Only 19.04% of the respondents belong to female category which is a
glaring example of sex-ratio imbalance of the teaching community.
• Internet is very popular among the faculty members of Mizoram
University.
• All the respondents (100%) are aware with the basic of IT knowledge.
• Most of the faculty members (66.6%) are having Internet facility at
the office.
• 78.57% of the respondents, which is the majority, use Internet for
downloading information resources.
• 52.76% of the respondents are opting that the convenient time to
browse the Internet is from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm.
• Majority of the faculty members (45.23%) use the Internet daily
followed by members (19.04%) who use the Internet twice in a week.
• Google search engine is the most common search engine used by the
faculty members (83.3%) of Mizoram University.
• Majority of the respondents (76.19%) seeks online journals to meet
their information needs, while 23.8% does not use an online journal.
• Most of the respondents (59.52%) are satisfied with the results, which
they get from an online journal.
• Most of the faculty members use an Internet for 1 hour (26.19%) in a
day.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that most of faculty members of Mizoram


University rely on Internet resources to meet their information needs. This
facility is available to their offices. Internet is very popular among the
faculty members. Internet plays a vital role in all fields of studies as it
provides a wealth of information. It has changed the way of seeking and
disseminating information. In spite of some problems, the Internet is one of
the best mediums for getting timely, relevant and most useful information as
it plays a crucial role in the access of information resources.

To satisfy their current information’s, faculty members get access to


online journals, databases. There are a number of free and fee-based useful
electronic journals, magazines, etc. published and available on Internet and
publishers providing various facilities to users such as free access, free trial,
sample copy, etc. which can be accessed by the users to cater their
information needs. There are thousands-perhaps millions-of databases
containing high quality information that are accessible via the Web.

It can also be concluded that among all the search engines, Google is
most commonly used search engine by the faculty members. Most of the
Web resources available through an Internet provide valuable information
for each and every user. But, although the Internet resources provides many
valuable information, there are sources to be questioned, scrutinized, or
ignored as the Web documents may lack authority and quality control since
anyone who wishes to can publish information on the Web as unlike print
documents, the Web document does not pass through the various quality
filters such as editing or peer review. On one hand, it can provide effective
and timely access to useful and accurate information, but on the other hand
it can be an intentional or unintentional vehicle for poor or wrong
information. It has rightly been said that the Internet revolution, on one hand
has democratized the information access but on the other has also posed as a
treat to the quality content which is being disseminated through it.
It is clear form the study that, the faculty members of Mizoram
University make use of the Internet and it occupies an important place
among various information sources. It is widely used by the faculty for their
research purposes and it plays an active role in searching of information.
Using the Internet requires analytical and evaluative skills, rather than the
simpler information location skills which the faculty members are
accustomed to using. But along with these location skills, comes a new
wealth of information and accessibility. The pace of availability and the ease
of accessibility of information make the faculty members to use the Internet
more frequently.

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