Users' Perception of Internet Characteristics in the Academic Environment

Users' Perception of Internet Characteristics in the Academic Environment

Abdullah Almobarraz (Imam University, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/jicthd.2009091503

Abstract

This article examines the characteristics of internet that motivate faculty members of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University (IMSU) in Saudi Arabia to utilize the Internet in their research and instructional activities. The framework of the study was the attributes of innovations offered by Rogers. A modified instrument was adopted to collect the data and measure the attributes. The result revealed that the majority of IMSU faulty members used the Internet for research and academic activities twice a month or less, indicating a low Internet adoption rate. Multiple regression analysis showed that all attributes of innovation individually predicted Internet adoption. The combination of all attributes indicated the model could predict Internet adoption among faculty.
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Introduction

Adopting new innovations is one of the major areas in information technology that has been researched extensively in order to determine the primary factors influencing people to accept technologies and implement them in their activities. Among different types of technology, the Internet as a research tool has remained the most valuable source of information. In academic environment practically, researchers from different disciplines have become aware of the potential benefits of the Internet not only as a research tool but also as a communication medium. Multiple communication applications provided by the Internet inspire scholars and professionals to keep in contact with each other regularly and exchange information in a short period of time. To conduct their research studies, scholars and university faculty members have access to a wide variety of services, including information sources, electronic mail, file transfer, interest group membership, interactive collaboration, and multimedia displays (Cohen, n.d.) Moreover, Web 2.0 applications have added new ways for faculty members to obtain and organize information. These applications include but are not limited to blogs, wikis, Webcasts, podcasts, RSS feeds, social networks, tags, and AJAX. Hence, the diffusion of Internet adoption can be considered as the most important event of the late 20th century (Vadillo, Bárcena, & Matute, 2006).

In spite of the increasing contents of scientific information published on the Internet, Saudi Arabia as a developing country was late in connecting the Internet to the public compared to other countries. As a result, IMSU was provided with Internet services at a later period, and the faculty, until a short time ago, was unable to access the Internet through the university. Therefore, it is important to study the effect of this delay in adopting the Internet for academic and research purposes and to understand Internet characteristic encouraging or preventing faculty members from the adoption.

Butler and Sellbom (2002) state many factors and predictors affect users’ decisions and the rate of adoption, including an innovation’s characteristics and economic, sociological, organizational, and psychological variables. The current study focuses on innovation attributes as they appear in diffusion of innovation theory created by Rogers to determine Internet characteristics impacting IMSU faculty members’ decision to adopt or reject the Internet in their research activities.

Two core research questions can be formulated to explore the situation concerning this issue including:

  • 1.

    To what extent do faculty members at IMSU adopt the Internet for academic purposes?

  • 2.

    Do the attributes of innovations: relative advantage, compatibility, results demonstrability, ease of use, image, visibility, voluntariness, trialability, as perceived by faculty members predict their Internet adoption?

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