Use of the internet by undergraduate third-year students of the Faculty of Humanities, Development and Social Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of the internet by the Faculty of Humanities, Development and Social Science third year students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus. The study tried to establish how often students used the internet; what did students use the internet for; what internet services did students use the most and why were those services used. Furthermore, the study investigated what information services were relevant and important for students; whether students had the necessary skills to use the internet and what problems they experienced while using the internet. Conclusions were drawn and a set of recommendations were made based on the findings of the study. The study population comprised 330 Faculty of Humanities, Development and Social Science third year students. A total number of 254 undergraduate third year students responded, which gave a very good response rate of 77%. The researcher employed a triangulation approach where both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. For quantitative data collection the researcher used a questionnaire. An interview schedule to obtain qualitative data from the Director of Information Communication and Technology was used. The data from the interview was used to support the data from the questionnaire. The quantitative data was analysed using SPSS and the qualitative data was analysed using thematic content analysis. To maintain validity and reliability the questionnaire was pre-tested to non Faculty of HDSS undergraduate students at the UKZNP. The findings of the study showed that a majority of HDSS undergraduate third year students at UKZNP used the internet on campus with less than half of them also using the internet off campus. The most relevant and important internet services for third year students were e-mail, Web and telnet. However, the most used internet services by third year students were the Web, e-mail, social networks and telnet. A majority of students used GroupWise e-mail even though they had other e-mail accounts. In addition, a majority of students used FaceBook and students preferred Google more than other search engines. There were a number of challenges students experienced regarding the use of the internet. Such challenges included a limited number of computers in the LANs, slow internet connections, restricted access to certain sites and a lack of training on how to use the internet on campus.