oa South African Journal of Information Management - Use of Web 2.0 by students in the Faculty of Information Science and Communications at Mzuzu University, Malawi : original research
Background: Over the years, advancements in Internet technologies have led to the emergence of new technologies such as Web 2.0, which have taken various sectors including higher education by storm. Web 2.0 technologies are slowly but surely penetrating higher education in developing countries with much hype, according to the literature. This justifies the need for original research that aims at demystifying the application and exploiting the promises that come along with these so-called versatile technologies.
Objectives: The specific objectives of the study were to ascertain students' awareness of and familiarity with Web 2.0 technologies, to determine the purposes for which students use Web 2.0 technologies, and to identify the factors that affect students' use or non-use of Web 2.0 technologies.
Method: A mixed-methods approach was adopted. Firstly, a questionnaire was sent to 186 students; secondly, the curricula of the two departments in the Faculty of Information Science and Communication (ISC) were analysed; finally, follow-up interviews were conducted with seven lecturers in the Faculty of ISC.
Results: The study found that students use Web 2.0 technologies to search for information, to communicate with lecturers, to submit assignments and to communicate with friends on academic work. Wikipedia, WhatsApp, Google Apps and YouTube are the Web 2.0 technologies most used by students. Poor bandwidth (Internet connection) coupled with the absence of Wi-Fi (wireless Internet connection) prevents the successful adoption of Web 2.0 by students.
Conclusion: Web 2.0 can have a profound impact on undergraduate students and lecturers in teaching and learning. The research results indicated a high awareness of a wide range of Web 2.0 technologies, with social networks being the commonly used one. There is a need for more training to increase awareness of and familiarity with new Web 2.0 technologies. The problem of poor bandwidth needs to be addressed by the university management in order to gain significant benefits.
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