Web-based Instruction in Library and Information Science: An Experience of Thailand

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1 Web-based Instruction in Library and Information Science: An Experience of Thailand Chutima Sacchanand School of Liberal Arts, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University Thailand Обучение по библиотечно-информационни науки чрез Интернет: опитът на Тайланд Чутима Сакхананд Свободен университет Сукотай Таматират Тайланд ABSTRACT The author describes factors facilitating web-based instruction in library and information science; advantages and limitations, an overview of web-based instruction in library and information science in Thailand in the case of a distance education university, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU). Implications of web-based instruction to the library and information science program are included. Keywords: Web-based instruction; Library and information science; Thailand. РЕЗЮМЕ Авторът описва факторите, които улесняват обучението по библиотечноинформационни науки чрез Интернет, неговите предимства и ограничения и прави обзор на обучението по библиотечно-информационни науки чрез Интернет в Свободния университет за дистанционно обучение Сукотай Таматират в Тайланд. Посочени са въздействията на обучението по Интернет върху програмата по библиотечноинформационни науки. Ключови думи: уеб-базирано обучение; библиотечно-информационни науки; Тайланд. INTRODUCTION The political, economic, societal and technological (PEST) context of education is changing. Education has been moving very fast during the past decade, from traditional

2 classroom settings or face-to-face instruction and from correspondence in the distance education to online education. Of all possible distance education formats, the Internet has become the most widely used (National Center for Education Statistics, 2002). The Internet and especially the World Wide Web has broadened the scope of traditional education and conventional distance education to include e-learning, virtual universities, virtual courses and virtual libraries. The new form of teaching and learning, web-based instruction or online learning has gained its popularity in higher education, especially in the field of library and information science. Thus, education in library and information science has changed dramatically over the past ten years. FACTORS FACILITATING WEB-BASED INSTRUCTION IN LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE Web- based instruction has widely spread and plays a significant role in the field of library and information science in the twenty-first century, mainly through these following reasons. Paradigm shift in the library and information profession All facets of the library and information profession, both theories and practices, are affected by changes due mainly to information and communication technologies. The Internet and online instruction have a strong impact on library and information management and services especially in terms of the provision of learning resources and electronic reference services. More library and information resources become available online; and libraries provide more networked access to resources to more distant users. This offers opportunities and threatens the library and information profession and professionals at the same time. Librarians and information professionals are at the crossroads. To cope with changes and paradigm shift in the profession, library and information science students should be prepared to meet challenges posted by new technologies and be equipped with new knowledge and competencies especially with various information and technological skills. Nature of Library and Information Science Library and information science is focused on recordable information, knowledge and technologies to facilitate the management, access, retrieval, services and use of information while web-based instruction allows students to navigate the digital world and to pursue knowledge in the complex learning environment. This allows students to experience getting access to information literacy, digital library or virtual library concept, especially information retrieval, services and related courses. This then strengthens Liebscher and McCaffrey s statement (1996, p. 384) that distance learning technology is also information delivery technology and as such fits well in a program for library and information professionals who are examining a range of information technologies. Reforms of Library and Information Science Education There has been an important shift from a conception of library education as training librarians and studying libraries to one of transferring information in a variety of settings, including libraries (Estabrook, 1986). Hence, library and information science education has

3 changed dramatically to respond to rapidly changing societies and cope with the needs of the workforce in the digital age. Reforms of library and information science education especially in the teaching and learning process, with the advancement of information and communication technologies, allow more flexibility and responsiveness to accommodate learner-centered learning with no limitation of time and location. With this, administrators and teachers share the same goal to prepare library and information science students for challenges posed by the paradigm shift in the library and information science profession and education. ADVANTAGES AND LIMITATIONS OF WEB-BASED INSTRUCTION IN LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE Web-based instruction has many advantages. It enables individuals to learn by themselves; encourages self-directed learning, self reflection, learner-centered learning, just in time learning; accommodates the individual s learning style; promotes active learning; and broadens the scope of conventional distance education to any where, any time and any pace. Vishwanatham, Wilkins and Jevec (1997) emphasized that the online medium allowed the library to reach a larger number of users than would have been possible in the classroom setting, while also providing a level of detail and depth not possible in the typical one-hour, one-meeting instruction class. On the other hand, although literature showed many positive aspects of online learning and web based instruction, some negative aspects or limitations have also been shown, e.g. computer savvy, digital divide, a lack of physical contact, etc. A feeling of isolation and lack of face-to-face communication are cited most often. Phipps and Merisotis (1999) believed that technology cannot replace the human contact in education. They further stated that technology can leverage faculty time, but it cannot replace most human contact without significant quality losses and to maximize its advantages and diminish its limitation, effective web-based instruction management is required. Web-based instruction is increasingly popular in the field of library and information science and has also been shown to have both advantages and limitations. Buchanan, Xie, Brown and Wolfram (2001) compared web-based and traditional instruction in an MLIS program to investigate differences in perceptions and outcomes in each environment. Findings indicated that there were no significant differences in student performance between the two forms and that students felt web-based experience worked well in certain environments. However, differences were found in students perception of educational experiences between both approaches, and also between instructors and students in the importance placed on factors that determine course success. The researchers emphasized the greater needs for specific student and instructor qualities in achieving success in the web-based environment. It was concluded that both instructors and students must recognize the constraints and opportunities presented by the web environment, which permit multiple forms of contact for effective learning when used in conjunction with other technologies. Nicholas, Shaffer and Schockey (2003) found that over the past two decades several significant studies have compared student learning resulting from computerized instruction with learning from traditional instruction. Most studies have found learning to be comparable to

4 online and traditional in-class instruction, and the differences between these two methods showed that it is statistically insignificant and as a result, librarians have tended to migrate to new technologies as primary means of delivering introductory library instruction. However, it was found that results have been inconsistent and sample populations and research designs were varied. From their experiences in offering library and information science education by distance for nearly thirty years in Australia, Hong Kong and other countries, Harvey and Mills (2002) of Charles Stuart University, Australia, concluded that e-learning in its most fully online definition is not the best option for library and information science education in all situations and e- learning cannot stand alone. They also suggested that a mix of e-learning and paper-based delivery is a more effective model. Although considered by some to be a conservative approach, it has served a large number of students well. It was mentioned that face-to-face contact may be diminished, but it is unlikely to be replaced completely. This is supported by the fact that some accredited online programs offered by library schools in U.S.A. are supplemented by face-to-face communication, e.g. class meetings at Texas Woman s university, a 5 day residency requirement at Mansfield University. In addition, Dewald (1999) also reported on a study to investigate whether online tutorials exhibited the best practices of traditional library instruction. Major conclusions showed that web-based library tutorials were best used in conjunction with academic classes rather than in isolation; some forms of active and collaborative learning should be included in the tutorials and web-based tutorials should not substitute completely for librarian interaction with students. In the U.S.A., online courses and degree programs are becoming more and more popular and many accredited online degree programs in library and information science have been offered by library schools at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The following chart displays the schools and their programs. Indiana State University Mansfield University Syracuse University Southern Connecticut State University s Department of Library Science and Instructional Technology Drexel University, through College of Information Science and Technology Texas Woman s University University of Arizona s School of Information Resources and Library Science University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign s Graduate School of Library online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in library and media services interactive online Master s of Education in School Library and Information Technologies online MLS degree online MLS degree online Master of Science program with a concentration in Management of Digital Information online MLS combining optional face to face class meetings with internet-based courses online Master s degree in Information Resources and Library Science distance learning scheduling option called LEEP

5 and Information Science University of Pittsburgh s School of Information Science University of North Texas s School of Library and Information Science University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee s School of Information Studies web-based version of the MLIS program Master of Science in Library and Information Science online program online programs Bachelor of Science in Information Resources and Master of Library and Information Studies OVERVIEW OF WEB-BASED INSTRUCTION IN LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE EDUCATION IN THAILAND The Internet plays a significant role in library and information science education and has had an impact on schools of library and information science around the world. In Thailand, Manmart (2002) examined the impact of the Internet on the schools of library and information science in the region. Results showed that library and information schools in Thailand are keeping up with changes in information and communication technology and the Web has been used widely in library schools in Thailand in various ways. In the past, web-based instruction in library and information science was limited mostly to search skills in online searching courses. Now, the contents of library and information science have been expanded. Web-based instruction is an attractive teaching mode for information literacy and it is also a fully integrated instructional medium for distance education as well as conventional universities especially at the graduate level. The Web has increasingly been integrated in the library and information science curriculum both in the course content and the teaching and learning process to enhance face to face courses in the traditional universities and to supplement the distance learning materials. In the course content, the Web is integrated in all courses such as Information Services, Information Resources and Access, Information Storage and Retrieval and Online Searching. Digital libraries or virtual libraries are incorporated in library and information science curriculum and has become a strong technological focus. In the teaching and learning process, the Web is a course delivery, a teaching medium, a major tool for delivering teaching and learning materials, and as an information and reference source in courses. Web-based instruction or web-supported teaching integrates information and technological skills, offers considerable potential for delivering useful library instruction and enhances students information literacy skills. It allows students to experiment with cutting-edge teaching technologies, and thus provides them the skills they will need to become the information professionals of tomorrow. In communication, web bulletin boards are used to support intensive student-to-faculty and student-to-student communication. Students are encouraged to participate in virtual discussion and communicate through and to engage in collaborative learning with their peers. With new forms of scholarly communication, students expand their knowledge and develop their reading and comprehension skills and become active in their learning communities. Moreover, web-based instruction has been used intensively with high priority to the development of information literacy skills among the students. Libraries have also been involved

6 in providing information instruction via the Web. However, in spite of more and more integration and extensive use of web-based instruction and online learning in the curriculum, course content and the teaching learning process, in Thailand at present, there are no entirely online library and information science programs that lead to undergraduate and graduate degrees, but a combination of teaching and paper-based formats, supplemented by web-based instruction. One important reason is due to the policy of the Ministry of Education and the National Commission of Civil Service in accreditation of online learning programs. They are now working on this issue for quality control and standards of education. A CASE OF A DISTANCE EDUCATION UNIVERSITY: SUKHOTHAI THAMMATHIRAT OPEN UNIVERSITY (STOU) STOU is the eleventh public university, established in It is the first true distance teaching university in Thailand and in Southeast Asia and plays a leading role in the development of distance education and regards its operations as highly successful both in Thailand and abroad. In 1983, STOU was designated by UNESCO as the Lead Institution in the Consortium on Innovations in Distance Education for Asia and the Pacific. It was granted the 1992 Asian Management Award in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management, and the 1995 Institution Award of Excellence from the Commonwealth of Learning and the International Council for Distance Education. Improve Education 1.0 State philosophy and vision 2.0 Survey problems and social needs 3.0 Identify learner and state the graduation quality 4.0 State the learning concept 5.0 Design the curriculum 6.1 Pring-based instruction Web-based instruction TV/Radio CAI 7.1 Printed materials Produce Delivery multi-media knowledge self-learning and packages experience 6.2 Audiovisual Interactive Telecomumication On-line multi-media Off-line multi-media Communinty Sources of experience Library Home Education center Operation room STOU headquarter Fail Pass 8.1 Student evaluation 8.0 Evaluation 8.2 Evaluate educational system Pass 9.0 Quality 7.2 Web-based Virtual interactive Tutorlials Fail Improve System Figure 1: STOU Plan 2000 (STOU 2000)

7 STOU, under the School of Liberal Arts, offers courses in information science in three levels of educational programs: certificate and bachelor s degree program since 1989, and a master s degree program since The distance teaching system enables students in diverse localities to undertake the course of study by themselves. At the undergraduate level, instruction is given through instructional media with a mix of printed materials, which come in programmed textbooks and workbooks, educational radio and television programs, cassette tapes, video tapes, computer-assisted instruction (CAI), and face-to-face tutoring. STOU is gradually adjusting its distance educational system in accordance with modern academic and technological developments and the national educational reform. STOU Plan 2000 is geared more towards computer-based, resource-based and learner-centered orientation. As part of the virtual campus project, various administrative facilities are being developed. E- learning, web and associated technologies are more focused in the information science content and led to changes in teaching and learning environment to a virtual situation especially at the graduate level. At the graduate level, STOU s graduate distance education system allows graduate students to study independently, using programmed textbooks, study guides, cassette tapes and videotapes, under the guidance of an instructor with whom the students may arrange appointments for. Many academic activities for graduate students including orientation for new graduate students, academic seminars, intensive seminars, independent study and professional experience training are also provided. The Web is used as a support and an integration of printbased and physical contact to facilitate the teaching/learning process. The University aims for the graduate information science program to be the first program of the university in which all courses will be provided online in Even though it is not entirely online, web-based instruction will be more focused and supplemented by paper-based materials and face-to-face communication. With this concept, all information science graduate students are required to have their own computers with Internet access at home or at their workplace and a fairly high level of computer literacy. Students are guided to extensive sources of each course on the Web and electronic communication and discussion via and discussion groups are used as much as possible. Online interactions with the instructors and peers on web bulletin boards are included in all courses.

8 STOU PLAN 1993 System evaluation Printed material Cassette tape State Survey Develop Tranfer Design philosophy problems multi-media knowledge the and and social self-learning and curriculum vision needs packages experience Video tape CAI Tutorial seminar Intensive seminar S T U D E N T S Evaluation and Follow up Professional experience Student evaluation Figure 2: STOU Graduate Distance Education System (STOU 1993) In addition, as with other traditional library schools in Thailand, the School website has been developed to disseminate administrative information or arrangement about the program, the courses and insights to students. The groups of graduate students in Bangkok and northeastern areas have also developed their own websites to communicate within their groups. IMPLICATIONS OF WEB-BASED INSTRUCTION TO LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE PROGRAMS Web-based instruction has provided opportunities and constraints. For the success of web-based instruction in the field of library and information science in Thailand, new teachers, new learners and new environment are significantly needed. New Teachers Web-based instruction has had an impact on academic staff roles, knowledge and skills, their teaching methods and activities and their communication patterns. It requires new knowledge and competencies that are different from those used to provide library and information science instruction in a face-to-face setting or through print materials in order to develop effective instructional materials for an online environment. Teachers should have more critical and proactive roles to play in supporting the web based instruction, mainly as facilitators of learning, guidance of learners, partners with librarians and other technical staff. New Learners For success in the web-based instruction, a high degree of computer proficiency and other related literacy such as information literacy, internet literacy are required and become more

9 important for cyberlearners. This requires information literacy skill instruction to prepare students to use the Internet and the web as a tool and to facilitate students for self-directed and lifelong learning. In addition, student input, self-motivation, self-discipline, commitment to their studies, collaboration and interaction, e.g. threaded discussion, chat, and , should be created to make courses more successful. New Librarians Web-based instruction is one of the major challenges facing librarians. It inevitably affects library and information services to distance students. With a more online environment, librarians continue their expected roles but need to restructure themselves into the online environment, working with electronic information, network navigators, and knowledge managers. E-librarians, webrarians and digital librarians are some different terms that characterize the changing roles of librarians in the new digital environment. Librarians are expected to be called on to increase their competencies in communication and information technologies, and other related disciplines, e.g. communication, marketing, management and teaching. New Environment Conditions contributing to the success of web based instruction include technological infrastructure and support, network of the university, adequate Internet connections, adequate Internet access, adequate affordability, local positive attitudes to web-based instruction or online learning and student support services in the online environment. Development of the hybrid or digital library to meet the concept of access and equity in terms of providing resources and services to distance students, irrespective of geography should be a topmost priority. SUMMARY Distance learning will gain its popularity and high status in the foreseeable future, especially through the influence of Internet and the Web. Web-based instruction is challenging educators, especially distance educators worldwide and especially in the field of library and information science. This is because the Web is not only the medium of course delivery, but much more important than that, the Web is the course content and the information sources for students in the field, both traditional and distance universities. This adds to the value of webbased instruction to the field of library and information science in higher education. Also, webbased instruction presents immense opportunities for the promotion of an effective educational environment in the digital age and calls for new competencies, roles and skills of faculty, students and librarians. Further, web-based instruction is challenging Thai library and information science educators to find a model that is best suited to the nature of library and information science and particularly to the Thai context. REFERENCES Buchanan, E., Xie, H., Brown, M., & Wolfram, D. (n.d.). A systematic study of webbased and traditional instruction in an MLIS program: Success factors and implications for

10 curriculum design. Retrieved May 15, 2004, from the World Wide Web: Dewald, N. H. (1999). Transporting food library instruction practices into the web environment: An analysis of online tutorials. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(1), Estabrook, L. (1986). Librarianship and information resources management: Some questions and contradictions. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 27, 3-4. Harvey, R., & Mills, J. (2002). E-learning in the LIS curriculum: Can it stand alone? Paper presented to Library and Information Science education in Asia (LISEA) post ICALD workshop, December 14, Liebscher, P., & McCaffrey, A. (1996). Library education at a distance. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 37(4), Manmart, L. (2002). The impact of the Internet on schools of library and information science in Thailand. Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Canberra. National Center for Education Statistics. (2002). The condition of education Retrieved May 15, 2004, from the World Wide Web: Nicholas, J., Shaffer, B., & Shockey, K. (2003). Changing the face of instruction: Is online or in-class more effective? College and Research Libraries, 97(5), Phipps, R., & Merisotis, J. (1999). What is the difference? A review of contemporary research on the effectiveness of distance learning in higher education. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Higher education Policy. STOU. (1993). STOU graduate distance education system. Nonthaburi: STOU. STOU. (2000). STOU plan Nonthaburi: STOU. STOU. (2001). 23 rd anniversary Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. Nonthaburi: STOU. Vishwanatham, R., Wikins, W., & Jevec, T. (1997). The Internet as a medium for online instruction. College & Research Libraries, 58(5),

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