1997 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
EXAMINATION OF ACADEMIC USES OF AN INTERNET SITE: AN ONGOING STUDY
Stephen P. Fracek, Jr., Ph.D. and Jon O. Nilsestuen, Ph.D., R.R.T. Department of Respiratory Care, School of Allied Health Sciences University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
The School of Allied Health Sciences (SAHS) began operating an internet site (http:// www.sahs.utmb.edu/sahs) in Dec., 1995. Initially, general information about the School and its Departments was available and in Aug., 1996, course materials were added. The purpose of this study is to determine how visitors access the site and if students would use the site to obtain course materials. Raw data consist of log entries kept by the web server software. Log entries are a computer record of each file that a visitor accessed while at our site. The logs are broken down by month, page (School's home page, departmental home pages, etc.), and user URL (University's computers = intranet or other URL = internet). Our data, which is updated monthly, indicate the following. The number of visitors to the SAHS home page has increased in a roughly linear fashion; we had over 1,500 visitors in Apr., 1997. The majority of visitors use the internet to access the SAHS home page (currently about 70%). About 42% use commercial internet providers; another 32% use computers at educational sites (these represent a broad cross section of US educational institutions); less than 1% have foreign addresses; and the remainder have only an IP address. Visitors to the departmental pages (those seeking information about our programs) overwhelmingly use the internet ([~]90%), whereas, visitors (mainly our students) to the course home pages are about evenly split between the internet and the intranet (45/55%). Specialized pages (professional employment opportunities, meeting information, etc.) are heavily utilized by internet visitors ([~]80%). The visitors to the Respiratory Care's (RC) departmental pages mirror these trends, that is, visitors use the internet ([~]86%), whereas course materials usually are accessed via the intranet ([~]85%). The number of visitors to the RC home page is much greater than one would expect based on the number of students in the RC department. Our experiences indicate the following. Our web site is a good way to advertise the School. Students will use online resources but currently they favor using the School's intranet. We predict that as internet access from home computers becomes more common, educational uses of the internet will increase.
(See original for figures)