The use of online digital resources and educational digital libraries

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This study aimed to understand the use of educational digital libraries by faculty members and instructors With regard to the use, motivations and barriers. Moreover this study investigates the discovery and use of educational digital source regarding the growing desire on the part of faculty members and instructors to use them, and an increasing difficulty in their ability to find, access and use them. It also examines imply the hypotheses of the use of the mutable type of online educational source would vary based on number of demographic variables, Most specifically, kind of institution, kind of appointment or teaching experience level.

The hypotheses is very specific due to the questions well be asked to faculty members and instructors such as

The importance of this study is summarized

This study is very important in term of improving the digital educational source, thus it is completing the other efforts which were adapted by such as National Science Foundation (NSF) in US which has spent over 150 millions to this improvement [29]. Issues about the digital libraries' users and about how do they use them have became the highest cost in order to improve and maintain the educational digital libraries [23,37]. The justification of this investment, the real use and impact of educational digital libraries' contents have become very significant to stakeholders. Due to all of that some questions have risen: What do faculty members and instructors perform with the digital sources which they get from the educational digital libraries? Do faculty members tread these sources as a worthwhile source? How do the use them in sack improving their teaching? What are the obstacles which are facing the faculty members when they use them?

Methodology:

In this paper, the authors report based on the Outcome of a national survey of American faculty members and the instructors regard to the use and non-use of online digital source.

This study looked deeply into the obstacles of the use for example the limitations of time and resource, the issues of accessing to high quality materials, lack of flexibility of the materials themselves, and academic property[17,23].

Two groups were conducted at one research university, one at a community college, three were conducted at primarily teaching universities, one group each at two historically black colleges, one group at a liberal arts college and two groups at theMERLOT International Conference2 whose participants represented awide variety of institutions.We sought input from this range of faculty members and instructors because we assumed that several factors would be critical to understanding their need for online digital resources and their search and usage behaviors, such as, type of institution, teaching experience, teaching load, type of courses taught, etc. Analysis of the focus group transcripts provided some evidence of the importance of these factors and the survey was designed to further test the value of these factors in predicting user behavior.

Our focus groups confirmed Harley et al.'s [23] findings that faculty members did not know what educational digital libraries were. Furthermore, these faculty members and instructors did not distinguish between a curated collection, such as the BEN science network (http://www.bioscienet.org) where only those items that have been peer reviewed aremade available and that of a simple of list of URLs that might be found at a colleague's website. These findings, in addition to Harley's, highlight how important it is to use the language that potential respondents understand when designing survey instruments. So like Harley, we avoided using language in the survey questions3 associated with digital libraries, e.g., collection, metadata, etc. Instead, in order to improve the face validity of the instruments, we carefully described the contents of collections, e.g., scholarly articles, visual images, historical documents, etc. and asked respondents how they searched for and used these materials.

The survey instrument consisted of 105 items that included demographic information, questions about motivations for use of materials, barriers to use and descriptions of use.

To minimize survey fatigue, the survey design employed skip logic so that respondents were asked details about their use of materials only after indicating they used them. Questions covered how an individual faculty member or instructor used particular kinds of online materials, e.g., animations, simulations, scholarly resources, images, etc. (see Table 3 for a definition of thesematerials), if they modified thesematerials in any way and their motivations for the use of these materials. Survey participants were asked to rank their likelihood of use of a digital collection as compared to other search engines such as Google or Yahoo.com. Responders were also asked a series of demographic questions regarding their teaching experience, type of institution in which they work and so forth. External validity was determined by pre-testing the survey with approximately 20 faculty members from the different types of institutions represented in the sample.

3.1 The survey sample

To reach the study's population, we approached institutions to aid us in contacting their faculty members and instructors. Using the Carnegie Foundation 2000 list ofUS institutions of higher education, a broad invitation to participate was issued to the majority of higher education institutions in the United States. A likely contact was identified at each institution by visiting the institution's web site. Contacts were generally head librarians, heads of faculty development, or academic deans. Of the approximately 3,500 institutions contacted,4 more than 250 responded, and in the end, 119 institutions agreed to participate. Table 1 shows howthis survey's sample of institutions compares to the actual distribution of types of institutions in the Carnegie list. For the purposes of the administration of the survey, the sample was not stratified with regards to institutional type because we felt that attempting to do so would negatively affect institutional buy-in and implementation of the survey.

United States at the full spectrum of institutions. However, because issues of use are not unique to STEM disciplines, we felt that limiting the survey to only those faculty members and instructors would make it too difficult for institutions to participate in the research. Consequently, we encouraged institutions to include their entire faculty in their invitation to participate in the survey. The majority of participating institutions sent the survey to their entire faculty body, though some sent it to a random sample of their faculty. By the end of the survey period (September 2006-January 2007) 4,678 individuals from the 119 participating institutions responded. Of those respondents, 4,439 instructed students; the bulk of the analysis was conducted on this group of instructors.

The demographics of the survey respondents can be found in Table 2. Nearly a third (30%) came from Masters granting institutions, a fourth from two-year or associate degree granting schools (26%), followed by four-year Baccalaureate or Liberal Arts College or Universities (22%) and, Doctoral Granting Institutions (21%). The respondents were also primarily tenured faculty (41%) with slightly over ten percent reporting that they held adjunct status (13%), or were primarily instructors, lecturers or held other non-tenure track positions (12%). The majority by far, held full-time positions (81%) and 40% had tenure. It is likely that these faculty members were over-represented in the sample given that 46% of all US faculty members hold part-time positions [1].

Most of the participating institutions chose to administer the survey to their entire faculty rather than isolating STEM only faculty. When asked to indicate in which disciplines they taught, more than one third of the responses (38%) represented a traditional STEM field (biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geoscience, health sciences, mathematics, or physics). Approximately 45% represented the humanities, arts or the social sciences while about 20% represented the professional schools, e.g., education, business, etc. This breakdown may not reflect the instructors' disciplinary training and respondents were allowed to select multiple disciplines.

The sample was also made up of faculty who were highly experienced instructors, with only one fourth having less than 7 years of teaching experience. This approximates the age distribution of higher education instructors with approximately 65% being older than 45 years old [25]. Slightly over half of the sample (54%) reported using course management systems or had a course website. Almost all (95%) of the respondents reported teaching face to face courses, though almost a fifth (21%) reported teaching distance education or online courses. Only 12% reported teaching hybrid courses, that is, courses that both meet face to face and are conducted online. If a respondent noted he or she did not instruct students, they were skipped to the end of the survey answering a question on the services offered by collections of digital resources, and final demographics

4.1 What kinds of online digital resources do faculty use?

To examine the relationship between the value of digital resources and their use more closely, we went back to our focus group data. For although these participants tended to value digital resources highly, they also failed to distinguish between the different types of online digital resources, e.g., educational digital libraries, web pages, online journals, and

were not conscious of using a digital library specifically [38]. Focus group participants defined educational digital libraries and digital resources broadly making few distinctions between for example, a loose collection of PowerPoint slides (available from a well known or trusted colleague's website) and a collection of materials such as MERLOT. Rather than force a definition of digital library for the survey onto a group of respondents who most likely not equate educational digital libraries or collections as sources for these highly valued online digital resources, we instead used only language describing the digital resources. We then sub-divided the resources into five categories as described in Table 3.

To examine how faculty members reported using these materials on the survey,we looked at the "top box" score, i.e., the resource which faculty indicated they "very frequently used". Survey results indicated that themost popular types of materials used by faculty members and instructors included online scholarly resources (51%) and digital images/visual materials (43%). About a quarter of the respondents (29%) reported frequent use of teaching and learning activities or online datasets (23%). Online simulations and animations were used the least with only 11% of the respondents reporting frequent use.

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