Internet information retrieval: a solution for students: FOIOTI.
Poster in Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 1-3 September. Johannesburg, South Africa.
Weideman, M. 2004. Internet information retrieval: a solution for students: FOIOTI. Poster in Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 1-3 September. Johannesburg, South Africa. Online: http://web-visibility.co.za/website-visibility-digital-library-seo/
The objective of this research project was to evaluate searching methodologies used by undergraduate learners in searching for academic information, and to design an aid if required.
The literature indicated that it is essential that learners should be able to retrieve relevant information from electronic sources. However, it was also stated repeatedly that searching on the Internet using standard search engines is not an easy task. It was also noted that a move was taking place away from traditional teaching methods to those with more learner involvement, making use of new computer and communication technologies.
Initial experiments were done with IT/IS learners to determine how and where they search on the Internet, and what degree of success they had. The most important data gathered from these experiments was the lack of search strategy displayed by learners; the search engines chosen by them; and their success rate. Only 32.2% of all learners in this study managed to find one piece of relevant information in 30 minutes without any assistance.
The data was used to design and later improve a tool to guide them in their searching endeavours. This tool, called "Finder Of Information On The Internet" (FOIOTI, at http://www.mwe.co.za), was then extensively tested by measuring searching success, with and without using it. The data was gathered by examining and summarizing the forms completed by the learners during the searching experiments.
During this study the author found that most learners had little or no training on Internet usage; often worked on the Internet; could not specify their search properly; used very few of the operators offered by search engines; and had a low success rate in finding relevant data.
The two final phases of experiments proved that FOIOTI, as a searching tool, was successful. During these two phases, 71.0% of the participants claimed that they found the specified information when using FOIOTI within 30 minutes. A total of 1109 learners from three continents and 20 institutions took part in the study, spread over 46 sessions. Every session was administered personally by the author.
This research project has contributed to the existing body of knowledge on Information Retrieval and education by having developed a tool that enhances learner involvement in the learning process. It enables educators to explore easier alternatives of locating educational resources by drawing on the experience of other website authors in their field. It also entices the average learner to re-skill him/herself on the use of an exciting technology: Information Retrieval through the Internet.
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