Information Communication Technology has changed and improved the traditional ways of communication. The University of Salford UK have identified the potential benefits of these telecommunication technologies. This led to the development of online Notification system and information delivery services, the 'Blackboard' and 'Webmail' respectively, which enabled the students and the members of the university to access the information and request for this service at anytime available online.
As SMS is rapidly becoming a candidate technology for youths, who are exchanging messages more than telephonic voice for communicating. The majority of students want to be notified through SMS. Hence, To improve the effectiveness of notification system, this can be achieved by providing an appropriate understanding of student's feedbacks, behaviour and requirements to identify the effectiveness of this system and the factors that affect the use of SMS in this service, which may leads to possibly improvements, therefore this research focused on students' perspective on Salford Universities notification system.
Information Communication Technology has changed and improved the traditional ways of communication between the masses of society. This ICT revolution has erased all the barriers of communication (Qiu, 2007). With the invent and implementation of sophisticated mobile technologies helped the organizations to provide better services to consumer, promote themselves and to improve their business processes. The mobile technologies like Mobile devices or PDAs(Personal Digital Assistant) started gaining more fame and popularity. It massively penetrated the markets (Balsubramanian & Shankar, 2009).
A reliable platform of communication is achieved by integrating these powerful handheld devices with sophisticated wireless telecommunication services, Mobile computing and various types of networks. Loads of E-mails, SMS(Short Message Service), telephonic Voice and other multimedia applications are successfully exchanged over this platform.This resulted, increase in various number of mobile computing applications. Modern notification systems can be viewed as one such type of application (Bamba & Barnes, 2007).These notification systems are been successfully implemented in the different endeavors of society.
The Prestigious Universities across the world, including University of Salford UK have identified the potential benefits of Notification system and web services. This led the University towards the development of its own online notification system and information delivery service, 'Blackboard' and 'Webmail' respectively, which enable students and the members of university to access the information and request for the service anytime available online. It is important that this notification system delivers a high standard and quality of service, to the students and staff.
Also, SMS is rapidly becoming a candidate technology for youths, who are exchanging messages more than telephonic voice for communicating. The majority of students want to be notified through SMS as it is having high targeting possibility (Tran, 2003).
This research aims to increase the resource available relating to the effectiveness of notification system. Investigation in this area will specifically focus on Salford universities notification system, which identifies the students perspectives towards using SMS in current system.
To ensure the system and the investment is worthwhile, an appropriate understanding of students behaviour, requirements and feedbacks towards the system can improve the effectiveness of this service and possibly attract more students.
This leads to the following research questions for the dissertation:
"How SMS can enhance the Notification System of The University Of Salford ?"
"What are the factors that affect the use of SMS in University of Salford's notification service?"
RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of SMS(short message service) technology on University of Salford's Notification system from the students's perspectives and how SMS(short message service) technology can enhance the current notification system. In order to address the aim of this project, the following objectives will need to be achieved:
To conduct a literature review on the impact of SMS on student's, University of Salford Notification system and the factors that affects the use of this service.
To conduct research using Interview and Questionnaire methods to collect information on Student's perspective towards Current Notification system.
To analyse the research information collected and identify the Student's point of view towards Notification system relating to the literature review.
To provide recommendations and possible improvements, for the Notification System based on the research information from the Student's perspectives.
The Impact Of 'SMS' (Short Message Service) Technology:
The development of mobile telecommunication technologies and IT have made revolutionary changes in society. With the liberalization of telecommunication and rapid growth of cellular industry have interconnected the people around the globe (Qiu, 2007). Mobile Technologies like Mobile devices and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) have become an important part of both enterprises and the customers. Further Balsubramanian & Shankar (2009) said that the demand of mobile devices and PDAs is rapidly increasing. Also they are massively penetrating the markets. Tsang, Ho & Liang (2004) believed that mobile devices being very personal in nature and always-on- always with you, have very high targeting possibilities.
All the E-Commerce transactions conducted generally via PCs (Personal Computers) or Laptops, the same transactions can be conducted by using the handheld mobile devices or PDAs by connecting to any matured wireless network. Where the transactions include banking, shopping, stock trading and other services. Which resulted in a completely new Mobile technology driven commerce known as M-Commerce (Mobile Commerce). M-Commerce in general is well recognized. Several authors have made an attempt to define M-Commerce. For example Barnes, (2002) defines M-Commerce as "any transaction with a monetary value that is conducted over a wireless telecommunication network". In the view of Liang et al (2007) M-Commerce is the extension of E-Commerce (Electronic Commerce). Ngai and Gunasekaran (2005) also have viewed M-Commerce as a subset of E- Commerce and a outcome of sophisticated wireless technologies and devices which allows the conduct of e-commerce activities over a wireless network.
The integration of such mobile devices with sophisticated Mobile telecommunication services, mobile computing and various kinds of networks have overcome most of the technological barriers for communication, thus making them a reliable platform for exchanging the information (Bamba & Barnes, 2007). According to Kim & Park (2008) E-mail, SMS (short messaging service), voice telephone service, and other multimedia applications are some of the different mediums of communication available on mobile phones. On the other hand Ilari, Mena and Illarramendi (2009) suggest that the attribute of anytime and anywhere availability of mobile computing services has led to the growth of Mobile computing applications. Notification Systems can be viewed as one of the examples of such applications.
"Modern notification system is a combination of software and hardware that provides a means of delivering a message to set of recipients" (Wikipedia, 2010). McCrickard & Chewar (2003) viewed Notification systems as interfaces which enables the user to access the required information. The user need of notifications is well recognized by information provider (Vastenburg, Keyson & Ridder, 2008). Additionally McCrickard et al (2003) said that the users want to be notified by the information relevant to them or their task.Where the notifications can be commercial advertisement, critical information alerts, or Educational information that can be notified through messages or e-mails. E-mails, Text messaging and multimedia messaging on mobile devices are rapidly growing (Balsubramanian & Shankar, 2009). As compared to the other services, SMS being a low-cost communication service is experiencing a rapid growth. Bamba & Barnes (2007) defines SMS as "store and forward communication system for mobile phones".
Further, 65% of all mobile phone users approximately are communicating via SMS (Kim & Park, 2008). Additionally SMS is rapidly becoming a preference for youths , who are exchanging messages over the mobile phones much more as compared to voice telephone service in order to stay connected with their friends and family. Where UK's youth spends £100,000 on messaging everyday (Tran, 2003). On the other hand Tran (2003) says SMS channel is of great potential and is not only limited for communicating over mobile phones but also adopted by organizations for marketing their products to the member of the younger generation. Leppaniemi & Karjaluoto (2008) viewed SMS in marketing as a brand vehicle and also found it to be capable of targeting consumers in a special context. The marketers are engaged in either permission-based or call-to-action (pull-based) mobile advertising. Where, in permission-based mobile advertising the promotional messages are send to the consumers with their permission and in call-to-action mobile advertising the user is asked to send messages for grabbing reactions on internet, TV or radio product promotions.
According to Houser and Thornton (2004) majority of japanese students are using mobile phones. As per the survey conducted more than 95% of the students use mobile phone. Thus most of the Japanese universities are now using mobile phone as a medium for education. And when enquired maximum students wanted to receive the notifications about administrative tasks such as room change, receiving the assignment deadlines, job vacancies, and university events through a very powerful SMS (short messaging service) on their mobile phones.
Stone (2004) suggests that the adoption of technology is rapidly growing in the education sector. It is important that the use of technology should be positive. The SMS is very popular amongst the students. As per the case research conducted by Stone (2004) on Kingston University, it evaluated SMS as a candidate technology and demonstrated that majority of the students in the university wanted to use SMS services as the support system. Like receiving the notifications about exam schedule(time, location and date), Some wanted to receive the time bounded administrative notifications such as change of lecture room and time of lectures or tutorials.Students of Kingston university were also interested in receiving their grades, deadline of assignment as SMS which are send through blackboard.
The Prestigious University of Salford has its own online Notification system and information delivery service, 'Blackboard' and 'Webmail' respectively. Looking at the popularity and power of SMS, it can be used as a tool for supporting the students of University of Salford in order to enhance the learning experience. By using it in the notification systems on a large scale it might help to ensure effectiveness of the system and probably enhance the service.
Paradigm refers to various ways of thinking about some aspect of world. Research paradigm reflects people assumptions and reflections about the nature of knowledge (Oats, 2006). It determines how research is conducted, especially how data is collected and analysed (Collis & Hussey, 2003).
Different paradigms have different views about a thing and different ways of acquiring knowledge for it. Generally, there are three major research paradigms; Positivism, Interpretivism and Critical Research (Oats, 2006). These paradigms with different research strategies help in determining the use of Information Systems by people.
Positivism: It is the oldest research paradigm, used from the time of newton. Many researchers follow this research approach. Positivists believe that the study of social reality should be done using methods of natural sciences (Oats, 2006). Term knowledge may be used only to phenomena that are confirmed by senses (Bryman & Bell, 2003). The main aim is to derive hypotheses that might be tested. This method represents the positivism of exploring the conceptual methods of the data architecture, creation of the data asset suitable for organisation, design structure for data modelling and data replication and the critical factors in implementing procedures. The positivist paradigm tends to find the relationships between variables and forming laws that describe previously tested linkages (Oats, 2006).
Interpretivism: This method of research believes knowledge to be the creation of human experts (Oats, 2006). Interpretivism is different as compared to positivism where it does not prove/disprove a hypothesis but identify, explain, and explore how all the factors in a group, organization, team and so on are related and interdependent (Oats, 2006). According to Black (2006) Its strength is the capability of finding the complexities and meanings of instances in a research.
Critical Research: It is neither well-known nor widely accepted research paradigm. The aim is to criticize the interpretivist researchers as they fail to derive the patterns of power and control relevant to our perception of the world (Oats, 2006). The goal is to to identify the power relations, conflicts and contradiction in our world and attempt to eliminate them as being reason of domination (Oats, 2006).
1.1 Selected Research Paradigm (Includes Justification)
For this research the most appropriate would be the Interpretivist research paradigm. Because all the factors driving the Notification System in University of Salford are to be identified. Also, the complexities involved in using 'SMS (short messaging service)' technology on a large scale in Notification System needs to be explored.
2.1.1 Case Study:
A case study is defined as "an empirical enquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between the phenomenon and the context are not clearly evident" (Yin, 2003). The goals are to gain clear picture, obtain rich insight and explore the complex relationships by investigating one phase or instance of a particular case (Oats, 2006).
In a case study an attempt is made to gain the broad perspective which is achieved by describing, understanding and controlling the process that has to be implemented (Oats, 2006).
Through case studies one can get innovative ideas about the process, study rare phenomena ,challenge theoretical assumptions for theory testing and building, and can handle complex situation very easily.
As only single person gathers and analyses the information it has a poor reliability and no set of protocols of doing a research which is time consuming.
2.1.2 Action Research:
."Action research is the enquiry with the people rather than the research on people" (Herbert Altrichter et al, 2002).It is particularly used by professionals in order to investigate and improve their working practices (Oats, 2006). As it can be either a positivist or interpretivist or critical research, it is essential to select the paradigm before starting with the research in order to determine the quality of it.
It is useful in contextualising the improvements related to the people of real world.
It is capable of filling the gap between academic and real world of people.
It is best suited for constructing and refining the processes involved in system development and problem solving.
Many of the researchers are unaware of this research strategy.
It is incapable of generalising the outcomes and establishing the causes and effects in a research.
In action research its not possible to meet the expectations of everyone involved in it.
Survey research means a systematic collection of data from a sample of respondents in order to understand and to predict future behaviours, attitudes, decisions and lifestyles of a population (Oats, 2006). Survey are widely established and used in the field of Information Systems. Pinsonneault and Kraemer (1993) defined survey as a method of "gathering information about the characteristics, actions or opinions of a large group of people, referred to as a population." There are three main characteristics of using this method, these includes asking people to collect information in a structured format, a quantitative method that can be used to identify information concerning with relationship between variables and it can also be used to collect a fraction of the study population, which can generate the results for the full population (Pinsonneault and Kraemer, 1993; Malhotra and Grover, 1998). It is mostly associated with positive paradigm for research.
Surveys are very economical. It can cover more people and gather a lot of data in short period of time at low cost. This research strategy can help the people with weaker communication skills as it can be done online or by post.
Survey does not provide detail information on research topic.
90 surveys out of 122 has a response rate below 51%, which shows there are very low response rates, when conducting surveys (Pinsonneault and Kraemer, 1993).
There might be irrelevant or dishonest answers towards some of the questions, due to the nature of conducting questionnaires.
Experiment is a research strategy which aims to prove/disprove a theory (Oats, 2006). This strategy is widely used in the field of Information systems and computing especially for evaluating the Human-Computer interaction. In experiments the researcher takes many precautions during detail observation and measurement of outcomes that occur when any factor is added or removed. It involves identifying the factors affecting experiment (Oats, 2006).
It is widely accepted and implemented research strategy.
It is the only strategy which can prove casual relationships.
As it is conducted in Laboratory the researchers are not obligated for visiting any field.
Experiment is artificial as it is conducted in laboratory hence the real world situations are not compatible.
The variables are impossible to control.
2.1.5 Grounded theory:
Grounded theory is obtained through the social research by grounding theory in data to study the behaviour (Goulding, 1998). It allows the researchers to propose a new theory on existing information with a aim to enhance or add more information to it, as very little is known (Oats, 2006). Generally, it falls under interpretive paradigm of research.
It helps researcher in generating good ideas, obtaining reliable information, and derive findings.
By using this research strategy a detailed information about a particular phenomenon can be obtained which is influenced by the context in which the study is undertaken
As the data analysis is required in the grounded theory it becomes more time consuming, may lead to frustration and take research in different direction.
According to Maanen (2006) Ethnography is the study and representation of culture. Ethnography helps us to know the representation and meaning of the behaviour and explores how it is integrated with wider social and cultural experience in the life-world of the consumer (Oats, 2006). The ethnographer actively participates with an aim to construct a holistic picture of culture considering the social and economical aspects of the culture.
This strategy provides a detailed and a clear picture of a certain situation with all aspects.
It can be used to challenge the findings from research strategies like experiments which are artificial in nature.
It is useful in studying various when a implementation of new system arises in the fields of Information technology.
It is good for studying any research topics of information systems which are ambiguous and complex.
In ethnography, it is difficult to manage time, handle information, maintain social relations, dealing ethical issues and so on effectively as the ethnographer is at high demands.
It is not well established.
Detailed study of all the situation and process is necessary making it difficult for researchers to give in recognizing concept.
2.2 Selected Research Strategy (Includes Justification):
The notification system in university of salford has to be evaluated and explored. The Case study has been chosen as a research strategy because, the goals are to gain clear picture, obtain rich insight and explore the complexities involved in the current notification system and investigate how the use of SMS technology can enhance it.
Data Collection Methods:
Interview is a planned conversation between two people having an agenda, purpose and assumptions in it. Myers and Newman (2007) said that interview is an important data gathering tool for detail information. There are different types of qualitative interviews, including Structured Interview, Unstructured or Semi-Structured interview and Group Interview (Oats, 2006).
Structured interview are well prepared before conducting an interview with a set of questions, whereas, semi-structured or unstructured interview are prepared with an incomplete script, which varies from the interviewer. On the other hand Group interviews are carried out with two or more participants (Myers and Newman, 2007). According to Myers and Newman (2007) the disadvantage of interview are, it is often under time limit and it is possible for interviews to be affected. Larsen (2003) suggested that by using open ended questions, the participants would gain more opportunities to respond and express their point of view. Further Larsen (2003) also stated that, after the open ended questions asking some critical questions would help to identify and lead to the important information. Thus, there are benefits of using both questioning methods.
Questionnaires are the the set of questions which are already defined and placed in determined order (Oats, 2006). It is conducted in the absence of researcher, asking people to collect information in a structured format (Oats, 2006). The Advantage of using this data generation method is that it is very economical and easy for researcher. The disadvantage of using questionnaire found by Pinsonneault and Kraemer (1993) shows, there are very low response rates, when conducting surveys using questionnaires. Also, there might be irrelevant answers towards some of the questions, due to the nature of conducting questionnaires.There are different techniques that can be used to improve the effectiveness of this questionnaire. Flower (1995) stated it is important to design questionnaire that is easy as possible for the participants. Lucia et el,. (2007) suggested that Questionnaire should be user friendly.
Documents are the instant source of data as they are readily available. It has less ethical problems attached to it. The main problem is its accessibility. Accessing to it can be either expensive or not possible (Oats, 2006).
3.2 Selected Data Collection Method (Includes Justification):
Data that is collected can be either quantitative or qualitative data.The research can be quantitative or qualitative depending on the data collected. Quantitative data will be numbers, statistics and financial data which will be presented as tables or graphs and qualitative data will be usually the text or words which will be the data that already exists (Oats, 2006). A combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods has been selected.Using the questionnaire and interview methods can provide a set of more accurate data for this research.
Data Analysis Methods:
Data analysis is a method for arranging and investigating the collected data using narratives, graphs, charts or tables. The main idea of data analysis is to draw conclusion based on the data patterns (Oats, 2006). It can be either a qualitative data analysis or quantitative data analysis or can be both.
Quantitative information would be collected from the questionnaires, which can be shown in chart and graphical format. Qualitative information would be collected from the semi-structured interviews for identifying the relevant information relating to the research questions, which leads to the factors affecting the use of Notification system and the aim of this proposal. A combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods has been selected for the research.
EVALUATION OF METHODS ADOPTED
This research focuses on Current Students of University of Salford and existing Notification system , which identifies information about the current Notification system and optimizing the use of this service. To provide an effective research, a Case study has been chosen as a research strategy as the goals are to gain clear picture, obtain rich insight and explore the complexities involved in the current notification system and investigate how the use of 'SMS' technology can enhance the current Notification system. To collect the relevant information, using a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative methods is more appropriate for this research.
A combination of both data collection methods could provide a set of useful data to improve the effectiveness and flexibility to discover important data and information for this research. Quantitative method is helpful in identifying information concerning with relationship between variables, whereas qualitative method is helpful in gathering detail information. Interviews and questionnaires will be used. In interviews, using open ended questions would give the participants more opportunities to respond and express their points of view, therefore both open and close-ended questions will be used for the participants. The Questionnaires on the other hand will help the researcher for obtaining feedback from students, on receiving notifications from the university through 'SMS' instead of 'e-mails'.
The Research can be done differently provided time and resources available by conducting the interviews at the administrative level of University of Salford. Implementing 'SMS' on a large scale for notification purpose is a critical issue, as the university already has its well established webmail notification system and hence it is time consuming to evaluate the critical success factors in using 'SMS' instead of 'E-mails'. With the time available the key features of 'SMS' , the impact of it on young students and how the implementation of it would enhance the experience of notification of students would be explored.
Interview is a planned conversation between two people having an agenda, purpose and assumptions in it. In Interview the researcher gets an instant feedback on a particular topic.Face to Face interview makes it more comfortable in knowing the topic deeply. Good at gaining the in depth and detailed knowledge regarding research topic.
Questionnaires are the the set of questions which are already defined and placed in determined order. It is conducted in the absence of researcher, asking people to collect information in a structured format. They are the cheapest way of data collection.They can be send via post, telephones or through e-mails.
It is very difficult for having a interview with administrative level. They are generally time consuming. There is a possibility that they might be misleading.
In questionnaire the truthfulness of answers to the questions cannot be checked. Researcher cannot help in answering the questions. It might cause frustration for participant in responding it.
As the research is processed in one of the highly reputed educational institutes of UK (United Kingdom) the ethics to obtain information about a system within a institution is considered as the right to confidentiality. The ethical issues considering the Notification system depends on the certain issues relating to the teleological and ethical relativism. The right of information is accessed by the questionnaires and interviews. The ethics of right to anonymity is maintained when the details of certain administrative person is not revealed.
The right to confidentiality is considered outmost in carrying the research. The confidential matters of one sector and another is not accessed by another sector. Individual integrity should be maintained.
Thus, the ethical standards of doing the research in enhancing notification system of university of salford is maintained.
POTENTIAL RELEVANCE AND CONTRIBUTION
The practitioners don not have to worry about the information they have submitted, it will not be known to anyone as the research data collected through the interviews, case study and questionnaire is highly confidential.The literatures related to this research have found that the only limitations to this research is the cost factor.
This research proposal identifies the students perspective on SMS Technology and the key factors that affect the future use of it in Notification System of University of Salford.
The research on the study of Enhancing the notification system in University of Salford can be done in three months of time.
Following is the research plan for next three months:
In first two week after the research proposal the basic knowledge about impact of SMS technology and all probabilities of using it in the notification system will be studied through books, journals and internet. Acquiring relevant knowledge would lead to success in the research.
In the third and fourth week research strategies have to be implemented like case study including interviews and all the necessary data will be gathered. During the next month I will discuss my research with the concerned administrative people in the University of Salford, have some interviews with the technical analysts who are working on the notification system and identify the factors involved in enhancing the notification system.
At the month end data collection, data implementation, data analysis, management and security issues will be done. The last month is needed for the documentation process, validation and verification has to be done in the end of the research where the research will be finally approved.