INTERACTION BETWEEN HUMAN AND INFORMATIVE SYSTEMS IN PRIMARY EDUCATION

2013-03-14 21:33

INTERACTION BETWEEN HUMAN AND INFORMATIVE SYSTEMS IN PRIMARY EDUCATION

 

Iro Mylonakou – Keke, Achilleas Efthimiopoulos

imylon@primedu.uoa.gr, efthimiopoulos@hotmail.com

Abstract

The Internet is a complex and nonlinear system in constant interaction with human systems. This interaction shapes many of the areas of human activity, thus changing the social hyper system, within which all other subsystems operate. The research questions that emerge from the interaction of two complex and nonlinear systems such as humans and the Internet are inadequately addressed through merely linear research tools. The complexity created by the relationships and interactions between several factors of the subsystems can rather be addressed through a model comprising multiple correlations and paths, which may be built primarily via computer modelling.

Therefore, in order to study the phenomenon of Internet use and addiction of students of primary education, we created a research model appraising on one hand motivation for using the Internet and on the other motivation the addiction to it. The model examines the possible direct and indirect links and correlations between the factors that shape human-informative systems interaction. The relevant methodological framework traces all the effects of subsystems that affect the system the user operates and lays special emphasis on sociological factors, psychological and biological predispositions and environmental conditions that influence the needs of people. The research model regards internet and users as two dynamic nonlinear systems of continuous interaction. The results of this study indicate that the most important predictors of Internet addiction do not lie with demographic data or variables concerning individual differences or Internet exposure. In contrast, predispositional factors (namely self-efficacy and anxiety), motivation for using the internet and involvement (i.e. mental, emotional, interactive) emerge as the most significant indicators Most research related to the interaction between humans and the internet focus on the repercussions of excessive use of the internet on the biological, psychological and social subsystems of people. The conclusions stemming from our research, which explore the underlying factors of addictive behaviour, create new research interests, prospects and opportunities for novel interpretations.

 

Keywords: Human System, Informative System, Internet addiction, Social Informatics, Social Pedagogy

 

1. Introduction - Research Reasoning

The popularity and attractiveness of the Internet still gather the attention of researchers, both for its positive and its negative effects on people, organizations and the society. According to a report of the Beijing News Service in 2002, approximately 300 million people worldwide suffer from an Internet Addiction Disorder. The review of the international literature shows that the parameters which addict someone to a complex computer system, such as the Internet, have not been adequately investigated.  

The Internet, despite its popularity and the rate at which its utilization has been spread, is considered new to allow retrospective observations, regarding its nature and effects. Anyone who makes an attempt to write about it should accept that its technology and utilization constantly change and they will be changing even while he would write (Kekes, 2004a).

These parameters are likely to constitute a combination of several interactions among many subsystems, since students are complex human systems, in a constant exchange of information with their environment (Paritsis, 2003). It is very difficult to answer all these questions about the interaction of two complex and nonlinear systems, such as humans and the Internet using linear research tools. The complexity resulting from the correlations between the parameters of addiction and the interactions of the subsystems between the two systems can be addressed through a model of multiple correlations and routes that may arise primarily from computer modeling.

The researchers define “addiction” as “a recurring motif of habit, which increases the risk of disease and the correlated personal and social problems, often experienced subjectively, mark a mental condition characterized by ‘loss of control’.” (Goldberg, 1993)

In Greece, research has unilaterally focused on treating the symptoms of the addictive disorder, which are the result of the excessive Internet use. DeMaggio and his colleagues pointed out (2001) that the rapid growth of the Internet offers a great opportunity to researchers to test theories about the technological expansion and influence of the media. Such a research can provide an insight of the unhealthy Internet use, with an aim to form proposals to avoid its pathological use and, consequently, to promote a healthy information society.

 

2. INFORMATION SOCIETY AND DIGITAL SCHOOL

 

The new operational program “Education and Lifelong Learning’ of the Ministry of Education in the digital school provides for the full inclusion and integration of ICT in the Curriculum and in everyday teaching practice. The main objectives of the digital strategy are the introduction of various educational practices, in all schools which will be based on and will utilize the multiple possibilities offered by the modern digital environment (Mylonakou & Efthimiopoulos, 2010). The synchronous and asynchronous communication through the Internet allows everyone to ask questions, to identify the best answers, to monitor and report on available material, to produce new knowledge, to think over their options, namely, to follow a knowledge management procedure (Kekes, 2007a). Educators are no longer the carriers of information, but co-operators and co-researchers with their students (Mylonakou-Keke, 2009). The successful integration of ICT in the educational procedure creates the term “digital school”, which aims to upgrade and improve not only the Curriculums but also the relationship between teachers and students, as well as the relationship between school, family and community (Mylonakou - Keke, 2009).

 

3. NEW INTERDISCIPLINARY FIELDS IN THE AGE OF COMPLEXITY

 

New interdisciplinary fields emerge in Information Society after a continuous interaction between human and computer systems. Such interdisciplinary fields are:

  • Social Pedagogy: As an interdisciplinary field, it “acts” as a “functional intermediate” between human systems and their economic, technological, social, political, cultural hyper-system (Mylonakou - Keke, 2003).
  • Social Informatics: The Social Informatics is the science related with the utilization of information technologies and studies the social changes and the new social phenomena that occur with the use of information technology by people, not necessarily exclusively in businesses and organizations (Kekes, 2007b).
  • Cognitive Science: It studies those cognitive processes related to the perception and knowledge by sense. It is the science of the human mind (Stillings, 2003). The scientists of this interdisciplinary field try to investigate psycho-mental phenomena such as learning, perception, thinking, memory and comprehension of knowledge.

 

4. PREDISPOSITIONS OF HUMAN SYSTEMS TOWARDS ICT

 

Reeves & Nass (1996) used the term media equation, in order to describe the way people perceive and use media. They explained that the way people perceive and deal with the media and ICT is similar to the way they perceive and deal with other people. The media users have different predispositions to the media. As a result, such predispositions are about to affect the media utilization patterns of people, as well as the consequences of the use of such media.

 

Self - efficacy in ICT

 

Having its origins in the Theory of Social Awareness, self-efficacy is defined as “someone’s belief in his skills for the organization and execution of the required number of actions, in order to produce certain achievements” (Bandura, 1997).  Bandura (1997) supported that the higher a person’s self-efficacy, the more intense he believes that he is able to control his behavior in order to achieve a desired outcome. Furthermore, people with high self-efficacy are more likely to try more in the process of achieving their goals, in comparison with those with low self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997). Zhang and Lu (2002) observed that self-efficacy affects the configuration of incentives. They discovered that people with high self-efficacy have stronger motivation level, than people with lower self-efficacy. Furthermore, they proved that self-efficacy affects incentives through its influence on the behavioral tendency, the persistence and the effectuation. Even though the research on self-efficacy in ICT is still at a very early stage, most studies (e.g. Albion, 2001) are focused on parameters that affect self-efficacy and on the relationships between self-efficacy and computer performance. The research has proved that many factors (e.g. gender, age, previous experience, education) can affect self-efficacy (Durndell & Haag, 2002).

 

Computer Anxiety

 

Computer anxiety is defined as the fear or the resistance in the use of the Internet (e.g. the search of electronic information or internet communication) or it has to do with the negative effects on the Internet users (Susskind et al, 2003).

 

5. THE RESEARCH

 

The Purpose of the research

 

The purpose of the present study is to examine the Incentives of Use and the Internet Addiction factors, in primary school students, through the formation of a Model based on the Internet Use Motives and Addiction, utilizing the new educational framework of “Digital School” and taking into account the findings of Cognitive Science and Social Informatics.

The present study hopes to contribute to:

  • The investigation of “Internet Addiction” based on Predispositional Factors (Self-efficacy, Anxiety) and Mediating Factors (Internet Affinity, Internet Exposure, Cognitive and Affective Involvement, Utilization Motives).
  • The investigation of the role Motives have in Internet Use and Internet Addiction.
  • The formulation of research tools to measure Motives in Internet Use.
  • The investigation of new Motives in Internet Use.
  • The understanding of the profile of Internet users in this certain sample (Primary School students of the last two classes)

 

Methodology

 

The research strategy that we followed in this study falls within the methodology of the quantitative research. In particular, we implemented a fixed (non-experimental) research project, provided for the collection of quantitative data. Based on the theoretical framework of the present study, the aim of the research is to investigate the significance of the use of ICT in the public administration of primary schools. In addition, it aims to study the effect of Predispositional Factors (Self-Efficacy, Computer Anxiety), which constitute the introduction of ICT in school administration very effective.

 

Research Tools

 

The research tools that constitute the Model of Internet Use Motives and Internet Addiction are the following:

1. Scale of Self-Efficacy on the Internet (Eastin and LaRose, 2000)

2. Scale of Computer Anxiety (Althaus & Tewksbury, 2000)

3. Scale of Internet Use Motives CMC (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000)

4. Scale of Cognitive Involvement (Eveland, Seo & Marton 2002)

5. Scale of Affective Involvement (Hsu & Price, 1993)

6. Scale of Interaction (Campbell & Neer, 2001)

7. Scale of Internet Affinity (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000)

 

The Model

 

 

The suggestion is a Model of Internet Use Motives and Internet Addiction, which utilizes the Theory of Use and Recompense. This model results from a modeling process conducted in three stages and formed after pre-researches implemented in primary Greek schools.

 

The Model parameters

 

Self-efficacy: There has been little research on self-efficacy on the Internet. For this reason, there are only a few measurement scales of self-efficacy on the Internet. We used the Scale of Self-Efficacy on the Internet (Eastin & LaRose, 2000).

Computer Anxiety: It is defined as the fear or resistance in the use of the Internet (e.g. searching for digital information or internet communication) and it has to do with the adverse effects on the Internet users. We used the Scale of Computer Anxiety (Althaus & Tewksbury, 2000).

Internet Use Motives: The Motives Scale (CMC) (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000), combines interpersonal motives (companionship, sentimentalism and control), motives related to the media and motives on new technology.

Cognitive Involvement: The cognitive involvement is closely related to the mental processing of messages. The cognitive involvement is reflected in the active participation during information processing. We used the Scale of Cognitive Involvement (Eveland, Seo & Marton, 2002).

Affective Involvement: The communication researchers have not paid enough attention to the role emotions play on human communication, even though research on emotions has been intensified over the last few years (Perse, 1998). We used the Scale of Affective Involvement (Hsu & Price, 1993).

Internet Affinity: A high level of Internet Affinity means high dedication or psychological commitment. In this sense, it could be argued that people with great affinity with the media are more likely to use them more frequently. We used the Scale of Internet Affinity (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000).

 

Research Sample

 

We chose as a purposive research sample students in primary schools (fifth and sixth grade), who feel comfortable in the use of new technologies and in the communication via internet applications. The sample was 46.9% males (n = 221) and 53.1% females (n = 250).

The ages of the participants ranged between 11 and 13 years old. These students attended schools of the Unified Reformed Educational Program. The proportional and purposive samples allow researchers to increase the demographic diversity and variability (Kerlinger & Lee, 2000).

 

Limitations of the research

 

The purposive sample was not selected at random and therefore it may not represent the overall population of Internet Users. For example, we have excluded from this research people over 13 years old, since we needed to limit the sample to students in primary education.

The measurement of the typical Internet Use utilized may have some limitations. Over 80% of the respondents typically used the Internet for electronic communication or for general web browsing. Since a few participants used the Internet for its other functions (eg shopping), the size of the sample was not sufficient to investigate how parameters (eg. self-efficacy, nervousness, motives) predict the typical use of other Internet functions.

There might have been a biased reaction against some measurements. It has always been an important issue, whether different groups of participants have biased responses against the objects of a measurement tool.

 

Research Questions

 

An important goal of the present research is to examine the role of motives in the Internet use and addiction. The research questions are focused on:

 

  • the influence of self-efficacy and nervousness during Internet browsing and their relationship with Internet addiction
  • the influence of motives in Internet use and their relationship with Internet addiction
  • the existence of a difference between males and females on the influence of self-efficacy and nervousness during Internet browsing and its relationship to addiction

 

Research Data Collection and Statistical Analysis

 

Data analysis was performed in several steps. The descriptive statistics were entered and we conducted analyses of reliability for all the scales used in this research. The statistical analyses were performed using the statistical software PASW SPSS Statistics 17.0 and the visualization of the use and addiction model became possible using the Matlab software.

 

Measurement of the individual typical Internet use

 

80.3% of the participants reported e-mail or web browsing as their typical Internet use. Less than 20% of them reported other Internet functions as their typical use. Due to the variety and diversity of the Internet functions, we focused on the most prominent patterns of use compared to other typical uses.

 

6. THE RESULTS

 

This study was a preliminary step in the investigation of Internet use and Internet addiction. It supports several general arguments:

  • Individual predispositions affect motives in Internet use.
  • motives in Internet use mediate in the relationship between individual predispositions and effects of the media
  • Involvement mediates in the relationship between motives and Internet use results

The results of the present study show that the most significant predictors of Internet addiction are not the demographics, the variables of individual differences or Internet exposure. On the contrary, the motives in Internet use and the involvement (cognitive, affective) are the most important predictors of Internet addiction. The predispositional factors, such as self-efficacy and nervousness are more significant predictors of Internet addiction than demographics.

The results suggest that males exhibited higher self-efficacy than females. Males had also the tendency to exhibit less Internet nervousness than females. A possible explanation could be that the Internet culture has a male nature and such a male-dominated technology reinforces the inequality of humans and the differences between sexes.

 

Future research directions

 

The predispositional factors constituted an important precursor in the intention to use the Internet. In the present study, we examined only the self-efficacy and nervousness on the Internet. In the future, more predispositional or personality parameters (eg. self-control) could be examined in reference with Internet use.

This study was focused on a specific population. In the future, researchers could focus on Internet use and addiction in larger and different population groups.

The flow of information among nations and cultures on the Internet is becoming very evident. However, such an exchange of information between developed and developing nations is not always balanced, because relatively fewer people in developing nations have access to the Internet. Such an imbalance in the exchange of information on the Internet might place greater emphasis on the western culture and hinder the transmission of others non western cultural elements and products.

 

Concluding remarks

 

A characteristic finding of the present research is that the Predispositional Factors are positively correlated with the affinity to ICT utilization. These factors, such as Self-efficacy and Computer Anxiety, as well as their correlation with the ICT utilization level, have not been adequately examined. The Affinity, on the other hand, seems to be positively correlated with the age, the educational level and the existence of technical support.

The results show that the Predispositional Factors, such as Self-efficacy in ICT and Computer Anxiety, constitute significant predictors of Affinity and their utilization level. Therefore, in order to facilitate the integration of ICT in the school Organization and Management, policy makers and educational administrators should focus on methods which could increase Self-efficacy and reduce Computer Anxiety of users.

 

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