Indian tertiary education students’ perceptions about Internet use for their learning: a case of Punjabi teacher education students

2017-03-02T02:59:52Z (GMT) by Sandhu, Sandeep Kaur
This study was intended to understand and explain Indian tertiary education students’ perceptions about using the Internet for their learning. The aim of this research is to examine the impact of Internet use on Indian tertiary education students’ learning. The study explores the role of the Internet in teacher education students’ learning and how students report the Internet to be useful for their studies. The purpose is to investigate whether better and increased Internet access links to better educational opportunities. The investigation is informed by the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) theory of Bijker and Pinch (1986), which is used to explore the perceptions of the students about Internet use in their learning. The theory of SCOT suggests humans’ perceptions are based on interactions and usage patterns of a particular technology, hence, in this study, Indian tertiary education students’ perceptions about their Internet interactions and usage patterns are explored. In order to identify and interpret the different meanings of the Internet for male and female students, the relationship between gender and the use of the Internet is also investigated. An embedded mixed methods study was conducted involving semi-structured interviews (five females and five males) and a survey (N= 1000) of Bachelor of Education students from eighteen different educational institutions in India. My personal narrative data was also used parallel to interview and survey data. The four components of the SCOT (interpretative flexibility, relevant social group, wider context and technological framework) were utilised to analyse data, and present and discuss the overall findings. The interview data and personal narrative data were analysed using content analysis where the patterns of themes guided by SCOT were compared and contrasted within and between cases. Statistical descriptive and comparative analyses were employed to analyse the survey data. Of significance, this study showed that the participants perceived the Internet to be an online learning tool because it enabled them to access learning materials digitally. Particularly, the interpretative flexibility theme showed that the students’ perceptions about the Internet use for their learning were based on their Internet usage patterns. The relevant social group theme highlighted that the poor Internet quality (including lack of Internet access, slow Internet speed and weak Internet signal quality) impacted on students’ Internet use for learning. The wider context theme showed that the social beliefs (e.g., parental and teachers’ negative attitude towards the Internet use stopped students from using the Internet), economic factors (e.g., high cost of the Internet), political factors (e.g., lack of provisions of the digital devices and appropriate electricity supply) and socio-economic background (e.g., educational and family background) also impacted adversely on students’ Internet use for their learning. On the basis of relevant social group analysis and wider context analysis, the technological framework was utilised to provide some practical suggestions to improve the provision of the Internet resources into Indian tertiary education institutions in order to promote tertiary education students’ learning through the implementation of new practices of the Internet in the Indian learning context.