Online Literacy among Students and Faculty: A Comparative Study between the United States and Eastern European Countries

Online Literacy among Students and Faculty: A Comparative Study between the United States and Eastern European Countries

Plamen Miltenoff (St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA), John H. Hoover (St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA) and Galin Tzokov (Paisii Khilendarski University, Bulgaria)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1852-7.ch009
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Abstract

Based on the recent proliferation of online education and the ongoing technological revolution, this research focused on interaction of students and faculty as a main contributor to the success of online education. During 2003, a survey was distributed to convenience samples of faculty members and students from the Midwest of the U.S. and three Eastern European countries. The data reflects students’ and faculty members’ opinions about the state of technology, online communication, and instruction. The results confirm findings from the literature about the existence of a digital divide between developed and emerging nations. Although Eastern European respondents don’t benefit from the technology base of their American correspondents, their satisfaction and comfort with technology remains relatively strong. The digital divide may result from administrative rigidity; Eastern European students enjoy less access to computer labs, due to fewer and less flexible hours. Faculty members and administrators remain entrenched in “old” technologies such as e-mail, whereas Millennials expect newer communication tools and prefer synchronous ones. Considering the available technology, online assessment is employed relatively inconsistently. Libraries as technology providers are perhaps underutilized particularly in Bulgaria, Moldova, and Macedonia.
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Background

The primary American University (hereafter Midwestern University) selected for investigation is described as a master’s college or university (subdivision = larger program) in the Carnegie classification system (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications/). The university, located in the Northern Midwest, provided over 130 undergraduate majors and 52 master’s programs at the time of the investigation. The student population was just under 16,000. In many ways, Midwestern University is typical of U.S. comprehensive universities in terms of technology use—if slightly above the infrastructure curve. In terms of technology application, prestigious private colleges and universities, along with larger land grant and flagship institutions, tend to be slightly further along the adaptation curve than does Midwestern University; two-year colleges and technical schools tend to lag behind.

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