Academic Online Resources and Global Implications

Y Inoue & S Bell. Global Information Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. Editor: Felix B Tan. Volume 1. Information Science Reference, 2008.

Introduction

This chapter discusses scholarly electronic databases and specific gateways to U.S. government information available on the Web. These Web sites represent a sampling of resources either initiated by academic interests or by sources for the dissemination of public information that benefits those involved in higher education in all capacities throughout the Pacific region based on the following:

  • Digital Collections of Educational Resources
  • Online Educational Resources for the Pacific Region

Digital Collections of Educational Resources

ICT have brought adult learning and professional development into the center of the global education agenda (Pye, 1999). As technical advancements in higher education from a global perspective emerge, virtual resources to support digital programs and curriculums must be addressed. Curriculum designers consider what relevant materials are available in electronic format to reach students requiring online research support. E-resources can and do enable innovations in teaching (Henderson & MacEwan, 1997). From a collection development perspective, librarians select resources in an electronic format to cover a broad sweep of general materials such as encyclopedias. At the Pennsylvania State University library, the electronic version of the popular Encyclopedia Britannica was acquired, and data collected revealed that within a six-month period, this acquisition was searched over 140,000 times by Penn State users (Henderson & MacEwan, 1997).

Subject-specific electronic databases are interesting and gratifying for courses that require a more refined and specific scope of resources. One such resource that focuses on the humanities is JSTOR, which provides a wide and scholarly range of disciplines and is provided to students and faculty at UOG. With over 900 participating institutions in 84 countries, this electronic journal database provides scholars with a run of journals from first issue, many dating from the early 1800s. As a not-for-profit organization with a mission to archive important scholarly research into the future (JSTOR, 2004, www.jstor.org), this high quality database is particularly valued for institutions of higher education in more remote areas in which academic resources are scarce. JSTOR’s discipline-specific collections offer an electronic path to collection development and provide academic resources for specialized research.

The following represent digital collections provided to library patrons at UOG:

  • Business: The 46 titles in the Business Collection are drawn from Arts and Sciences I, II, and IV. The collection brings together core titles in economics and finance, including many publications from the leading scholarly societies, with a range of critical research journals in accounting, labor relations, marketing, management, operations research, and risk assessment.
  • Ecology and Botany: The Ecology and Botany Collection contains 29 titles in two important fields within the life sciences. Founded with the assistance of the Ecological Society of America, it contains this society’s premier research journals alongside a range of titles broadly focused on ecosystems. Topics covered by the ecology journals are wide-ranging, from biodiversity and climate change to conservation and experimental biology. The botany titles—including the oldest botanical journal in the Americas—encompass a range of subjects such as plant biology, systematic botany, and taxonomy. Six of the Ecology and Botany titles are also available in the Arts and Sciences I Collection.
  • General Science: The General Science Collection contains seven titles. These titles include several of the most important historical scientific journals published: Science, PNAS, and the publications of the Royal Society of London. The material included in this archive reaches back to the 17th century and in total covers more than 800 journal years. There is no overlap with any Arts and Sciences collection.
  • Language and Literature: The 57 titles in the Language and Literature Collection span the literary cultures of many different countries and contain articles in several languages (e.g., Arabic, Italian, and German). Developed with the help of the Modern Language Association, this collection includes PMLA and a range of core journals in the diverse fields of literary criticism that have emerged in the last 30 years. This collection includes 13 journals from the Arts and Sciences I collection and 44 journals from the Arts and Sciences III Collection.
  • Mathematics and Statistics: JSTOR’s Mathematics and Statistics Collection unites 30 titles in the mathematical and statistical sciences. Journals in this collection overlap with the Arts and Sciences I and II collections, as well as with the Business and General Science collections (JSTOR, 2004).

One regional resource of note, dedicated to providing academic support for the Pacific to promote educational excellence for all ages is the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL, 2004). Situated in Hawaii, PREL’s main focus is education with service centers in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Korsrae, Phonpei, and Yap), Guam, Marshall Islands, and Palau. In order to best extend resources throughout this vast region, PREL has established the Pacific Resources Online (PRO), a Web site developed by the Pacific Regional Technology Education Consortium, a collection of education links to external Web sites for topics recommended by the Pacific Curriculum and Instruction Council. This searchable Web site displays twenty links from each topic, to the best Web sites originating in the Pacific region, the continental United States, and worldwide. The search topics to be selected from a menu include arts and humanities, assessment and accountability, career guidance, culture and diversity, DE, educational technology, family and community, geography, health and safety, history and social sciences, math and science, physical education and sports, planning and evaluation, policy, professional development, reading and language, school leadership, school reform, self-esteem and character education. When the term “distance education” was selected, the search results were as follows:

  • DE Clearinghouse

[http://www.uwex.edu/disted/home.html/]

Part of the University of Wisconsin’s Extension program, the DEClearinghouse brings together DE information and resources from around the world. It includes an introduction to distance learning as well as today’s headlines, research, case studies, and guidelines.

  • Distance Educator

[http://www.distance-educator.com/]

Founded by Farhad Saba, Distance-Educator.com provides distance learning resources categorized into classifications for learners, teachers, evaluators, policymakers, parents, and software providers, among others. Also, there is up-to-date information on distance learning news and trends, and a free daily e-mail newsletter on distance learning news. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • Distance Learning Exchange (DLE)

[http://www.dle.state.pa.us/]

DLE is an Internet directory of distance learning events developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The directory has several search options to look for free or fee-charged activities related to distance learning satellite teleconferences, videoconferencing courses, electronic field trips and Web quests. DLE enables schools to find distance learning partners throughout the world and brings together those offering activities with those seeking distance learning projects or events. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • Distance Learning Resource Network (DLRN)

[http://www.dlrn.org/index.html/]

DLRN is the dissemination organization for the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools program, which is a major federal effort to expand DE. The site contains links to online newsletters and journals, a library, and a searchable database for DE. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • Distance Learning on the Net by Glenn Hoyle

[http://www.hoyle.com/]

This site is an excellent place to begin research on DE. It provides valuable resources, links, and basic background information. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • Resources for DE

[http://Webster.commnet.edu/HP/pages/darling/distance.htm/]

This listing, maintained by Professor Charles Darling of Capital Community College in Hartford, CT, provides links to newsgroups, journals, and other useful e-resources for distance learning. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • Teaching and Learning on the Web

[http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/tl/index.html/]

This searchable collection of online courses ranges from those delivered entirely via the Web to others that offer specific activities or class materials. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • National Education Association’s Higher Education Distance Education Resources

[http://www.nea.org/he/abouthe/distance.html/]

The resources found here include practical, ready-to-use ideas submitted to the National Education Association (NEA) by educators, as well as recommended links. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • TEAMS Distance Learning

[http://teams.lacoe.edu/]

TEAMS is a national distance learning consortium that uses distributed learning technologies to bring learning opportunities to K-8 students, teachers, and parents across the United States through Web-based online and multimedia instruction. Created by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the site not only provides links to K-12 online educational resources, but also offers professional development and teacher’s guides. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

  • U.S. Distance Learning Association Journal

[http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/OCT02_Issue/index.html/]

This is a peer-reviewed journal of the United States Distance Learning Association, whose mission is to promote and provide up-to-date information on DE. Back issues are available to 1998. Topic: DE. Country: All regions.

Additional Resources for DE

  • The e-Academy

[http://www.k12.hi.us/~atr/e_academy/e_academy.htm/]

The e-Academy creates magnet schools and training centers, providing students with challenging course offerings in math, science, and advanced technology. Industry professionals collaborating with the University of Hawaii and businesses will also train teachers. Made possible by a Hawaii Department of Education and U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant, the project aims to promote equity and diversity by encouraging groups with the greatest needs to participate. Topic: DE. Country: Pacific Region.

  • Pan-Pacific Distance Learning Association (PPDLA)

[http://ksdl.ksbe.edu/PPDLA/]

PPDLA aims to provide regional leadership information, case studies, and publications to help promote successful distance learning programs. Based in Honolulu, PPDLA’s primary geographical focus is on Hawaii and the Pan-Pacific region. A calendar of events for the region and helpful e-resources are found on the site. Topic: DE. Country: Pacific Region.

  • Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC)

[http://www.ptc.org/index.html/]

Founded in 1980, PTC is an international, nonprofit, nongovernmental membership organization. Its mission is to promote the development of telecommunications and related industries in the Pacific region. PTC creates opportunities for networking and the sharing of information through its annual conference held each year in Honolulu attracting thousands of attendees and participants from across the Pacific. Topic: DE. Country: Pacific Region.

  • PEACESAT

[http://www.peacesat.hawaii.edu/]

PEACESAT is a public service satellite telecommunications network that links educational institutions, regional organizations, and governments with a mission to develop and promote telecommunications and IT in the Pacific region. In addition to providing data, voice, and video services, PEACESAT offers conferences, trainings, and links to selected papers and reports. Topic: DE. Country: Pacific Region.

The potential benefits of electronic reference materials to support higher education are increasingly more available. “Electronic versions of reference products have been part of the online library mix for a number of years, but the pace of conversion to online reference tools is quickening” (Webster, 2003, p. 24). The prevalence of specific databases focused on academic and scholarly clientele, accessible by remote areas such as the Asian Pacific region is “reaping the benefits of information and communication technologies” (Rao, 2003, p. 48). In addition to scholarly resources provided by an academic environment, “the U.S. Federal Government has been a major publisher on the Internet” (Notess, 2003, p. 256), and provides subject-specific gateways to government information on the Web.

Online Educational Resources for the Pacific Region

The following Web sites represent a sampling of resources either initiated by academic interests or a source for the dissemination of public information, and benefit those involved in education in all capacities throughout the Pacific region.

PREL and EBSCOhost

PREL’s business is education, and they have provided EBSCOhost, an online electronic database of full-text journals with thousands of titles, as a gift to the Pacific region. EBSCOhost supports a range of academic areas and provides an invaluable resource to scholars of all ages (PREL, 2004).

Micronesian Seminar

An additional, innovative online resource for Pacific researchers is the treasured Micronesian Seminar (MicSem)—founded in 1972 as a research-pastoral institute and founded by the Catholic Church. With the prime focus of educating Micronesians for the past 30 years, founder and director Jesuit Francis Hezel has long been concerned about how change and modernity have impacted cultural survival (Micronesian Seminar, 2004). Through the Internet, MicSem provides a vast array of social, historical, and community educational materials from a searchable Web page, all with the goal of offering an archived resource reflecting life in the islands and the impact of change (Micronesian Seminar, 2004).

Pacific Island Internet Resources

Pacific Islands Internet Resources, compiled by Michael R. Ogden, is a site that is dedicated to assembling Web sites relating to the Pacific Islands. Providing a map with clickable locations, the site includes conferences, seminars, workshop updates, and information from a national and international perspective. It is a self-proclaimed bonanza of resources and information relating to societies across the Pacific.

The Pacific Studies WWW Virtual Library

The Australian National University sponsors the Pacific Studies WWW Virtual Library, with links to the Pacific Studies WWW Monitor and the Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library. Established in 1995, this site includes information on Asian studies, Asia-Pacific conferences, Pacific manuscripts, Pacific history journal bibliography database, online maps and atlases, all with a focus on Pacific e-resources.

FirstGov and FirstGov for Science

“There is no better example of e-government than FirstGov, because the ‘e’ also means effective, efficient, and excellent government” (McGinnis, 2003, p. 54). This award-winning gateway, with 150 million Web pages, provides individuals with current facts and assistance relating to government information and services. Beyond its impressive scope, FirstGov remains on the cutting edge of e-government information access. FirstGov for Science is committed to serving the science-inquisitive citizen, offering an extensive resource to researchers and to the business community.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a valued database dedicated to scholarly literature, specifically peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts, and technical reports based on a range of established research from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, and universities.

Librarians have been committed to providing and developing online reference services to library patrons interested in digital access to information; historically these services have been primarily in English. Now because libraries provide for more multicultural communities, interest in a bilingual virtual reference service is emerging. A bilingual service primarily in English and French has been developed in New Brunswick, Canada. The issues and challenges relating to software, staffing, finding quality resources, translating, collaborating, and marketing serve as a model for virtual reference services focused on offering a variety of languages to the world of library access (Pascal, 2004).

Future Trends

“The global spread of ICT and the English language are now providing the conditions for the development of a truly global market in teaching and learning” (Newby, 1999, p. 107). The growing market for DE has been calculated at $300 million globally and expanding, based on an economy rooted in information access. There are examples of higher education in the U.S. where institutions (such as the University of Phoenix, owned by Apollo communications Inc.) provide a high level of academic courses with over 50 support centers in major cities, resulting in posted profits of $12.7 Million. Students enrolled in these DE programs access their course materials over the Internet. Other DE initiatives involve consortiums of public universities that pool resources and cover vast distances, reducing the cost of developing courses, like at the Western Governors University. This effort in the midwest and northern Rockies region beyond academics have banded together for marketing and technical distribution as well (Newby, 1999).

Plans to mirror these partnerships with an “international cyber university” have been discussed by a consortium of 15 colleges situated in the Asia Pacific region. The details of this initiative were recently discussed at a joint meeting between government and academic institution personnel at Ewha University, Seoul, South Korea. With the intention of delivering courses over the Internet and teleconferencing, the challenges of technical hurdles and language obstacles were discussed for this virtual campus with representatives from Japan’s Keio University, Yokohama; Chulalongkorn National Khon Kaen University, Thailand; Vietnam National University; and the Hanoi University of Technology. Working towards a pilot version of the Cyber University with an enormous geographic range by next year, the consortium focused on a variety of challenges such as:

  • Jointly awarding degrees from all institutions
  • Providing students with access to the compatible hardware and bandwidth access
  • Assuring that the correct fonts and characters were installed on computer systems to avoid Web browsers from crashing
  • Opening the possibility of American universities joining the consortium in time

Pedro Loureiro, a historian from Pomana College, maintains that between 30-40% of American academic institutions are not on par technically with Asian counterparts. This is a factor that American educators must consider when reaching to Asia for academic technical partnership (Cohen, 2002).

Summary

ICT have brought adult learning and professional development into the center of the “global education” agenda. As technical advancements in higher education from a global perspective emerge, an area that is addressed in this chapter includes virtual resources to support digital programs and curriculums. Curriculum designers must consider what relevant materials are available in electronic format to reach students requiring online research support. E-resources can and do enable innovations in teaching (Henderson & MacEwan, 1997). From a collection development perspective, librarians select resources in an electronic format to cover a broad sweep of general materials, as well as subject-specific databases. The potential benefits of electronic reference materials to support higher education are increasingly more available. “Electronic versions of reference products have been part of the online library mix for a number of years, but the pace of conversion to online reference tools is quickening” (Webster, 2003, p. 24). The prevalence of specific databases focused on academic and scholarly clientele, accessible by remote areas such as the Asian Pacific region is “reaping the benefits of information and communication technologies” (Rao, 2003, p. 48).

The quality and quantity of government information available to the public online is a national treasure. The range and depth of this resource is beyond imagination. The good news is that educators, especially those located in remote areas, now have extraordinary opportunities that are seemingly unlimited in the area of current and relevant resources. This chapter has profiled academic seminars organized to enhance curiosity and to inspire those dedicated to Internet technology by exploring the wealth of education materials through the U.S. government. Clearly, U.S. government e-resources are one solution to counter the current national epidemic of slashed education budgets, and to addressing the information challenges of geographically remote educational institutions.