The study assessed the use of online resources by agricultural science lecturers of tertiary institutions in Benue State, Nigeria. A total of 193 lecturers, randomly sampled from a population of 775 from six tertiary institutions of learning, including, two universities, two colleges of education and one college of agriculture were used for the study. The survey method, employing a structured questionnaire, was adopted in carrying out the research. Six study questions and two hypotheses were used to guide the study. Statistical analysis was carried out through the use of frequency distributions, percentages, mean scores and standard deviations, regression analysis and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Findings indicated that a large proportion of the respondents were in the age bracket of 46 and 55 years with a mean age was 42 years. Majority of the respondents were men. Majority of respondents had a household size of between 6 and 10 members, with a mean household size of 6 members. A large proportion of respondents possessed first degree or its equivalent; those with PhD made up 9.3% of the respondents. The majority of respondents were those that had work experience of about 10 years. Majority of respondents spent between 10 to 20 years on formal education, with average of 20 years being spent on formal education. Majority of the respondents earned between N101, 000 - 200,000 per month, with an average income of N181, 413.37. The results, also, showed that majority of respondents possessed general computer skills, with appreciable levels of skillfulness. In the area of general internet and online usage skills, majority of respondents possessed the requisite skills, with the majority of them also possessing appreciable levels of skillfulness. Majority of respondents had access to the internet on a daily basis and the majority of such respondents used the internet for academic research purposes. The basic type of connectivity to the internet available to most respondents was through the use of private cyber cafes. The main types of online resources used included electronic journals, electronic books, search engines and encyclopedia. Online resources that respondents frequently used included electronic journals, search engines, encyclopedia, abstracts, dictionaries and video/picture or graphic files. The online resources that were perceived to be useful to respondents included search engines, electronic journals and encyclopedia. Socio-economic and institutional factors that significantly influenced the use of online resources included age and number of years spent on formal education. Perceived constraints against access and use of online resources included, among others, unstable power supply, high cost of access and usage of online resources, non-subscription for relevant online resources by institutions, slow connection to the internet, and lack of sponsored training from institutions. It was recommended that tertiary institutions should subscribe for such online resources as AGORA, OARE and HINARI, for the benefit of their lecturers and that staff training and re-training should be built into staff development programs; institutions should provide internet services that are effective and efficient. This will enhance better and effective connectivity in the search, access and use of online resources; lecturers should upgrade themselves, through involvement in personal training programs that will enhance their computer, internet and online usage skills, in order to be able to locate, access and make more effective use of online resources.

1.1 Background information

Online resources, also variously called, digital resources, internet resources, network resources, computer resources, online services, online facilities, electronic information sources or e-library resources (Issa, Amusan and Daura, 2009); Okiki and Asiru, 2011), are those resources that are found on computer networks of organizations (intranets) or on the global network of millions of computers (Internet). The terms ‘digital resources’, ‘internet resources’, ‘network resources’, ‘computer resources’, ‘online services’, ‘online facilities’, ‘electronic information sources’ or ‘e-library resources’, among others, are therefore being used synonymously in the present study to describe information accessed online or through local networked resources (Harle, 2009). The word ‘online’ is an adjective, which refers to being connected through a computer. The effective utilization, or otherwise, of online resources may be a factor of how well information communication technologies (ICTs) are being used. Internet usage, especially, directly impacts the use of online resources. This implies that the more the number of internet users found in a given country, the greater the indication that more online resources are being used.

According to the Internet World Stats (2011), the estimated number of internet users world-wide, as at June 2010, was one billion, nine hundred and sixty-six million, five hundred and fourteen thousand, eight hundred and sixteen (1,966,514,816) people, out of the total estimated world population of six billion, eight hundred and forty five million, six hundred and nine thousand, nine hundred and sixty (6,845,609,960) people. The leading countries in internet usage, according to the report include: China, the United States of America (USA), Japan, India, Brazil, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), France and Nigeria. The report stated that Africa with fourteen percent (14.8%) of the world’s population, representing one billion, thirteen million, seven hundred and seventy nine thousand, fifty (1,013,779,050) people, have one hundred and ten million, nine hundred and thirty one, seven hundred (110, 931,700) internet users, which is equal to five percent (5.6%) of global internet users.

Nations, all over the world, are competing with one another concerning the most profitable ways of utilizing information for their national development. According to the World Bank (2002), knowledge is a critical determinant of competitiveness in the world economy and with the information revolution and increasing demands for a highly skilled workforce, nations must accord high priority to building the capacity to effectively utilize technology in education. The Bank emphasizes the critical importance of effectively utilizing new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to meet the growing need for a more sophisticated labor force, better management of information systems, and more effective contribution to poverty reduction around the world.

While the developed nations, on one hand, are doing all they can to maintain their leadership position in constructive information usage, the developing nations, on the other hand, are trying all they can to bridge the prevailing digital divide (Halavatau, 2003). Online information constitutes one of the major global sources of information being tapped by nations.....

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Item Type: Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 81 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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