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Friday, 18 November 2011

How Cyber Culture Changed our Schools


1. Introduction

            The fast-paced and dynamic changes that happen in the society nowadays have led to the increase in the development and improvement of the different aspects, including technology, communication, economics, and education. In particular, the development in technology and communication has paved way to the improvement of education, which has become one of the relevant issues that is being addressed in academic and educational institutions. The use of technology and communication has extend not only to the business and marketing sector, but also to the education sector, which creates a technology-based culture and new attitudes on those who apply it. In addition, such application in the education sector has led to the ubiquity of Internet cafés in recent years, such that it provides access to information, basic access to health and other services, and provides cheap and efficient way of communicating, considering the limited purchasing power and poor infrastructure. However, the high Internet access rate in the United States today does not take place in Internet cafés alone, but its increase is also attributed to the Internet access at home and at school. Wells and Lewis reported for the National Center for Education Statistics that in the Fall of 2005, nearly 100% of public schools in the United States had access to the Internet, compared with 35% of Internet access in 1994. In simple terms, more students are having access to the Internet, creating more users, and contributing to the already growing cyber society and the development of a cyber culture.

            The use of the Internet helps create a cyber society, which develops a cyber culture on those who use it more often, and has become important in addressing the use of the Internet in the improvement of education. Thus, cyber culture creates a new attitude on students because they adopt what they have learned in the Internet to their actual interaction with their fellow students and teachers. With this statement in mind, the main goal of this research study is to identify how cyber culture changes the school community in the United States, which plays an important role in the development of education.

            This thesis will be divided into five chapters in order to provide clarity and coherence on the discussion of the topic. The first part of the thesis will be discussing the problem uncovered by the researcher and provide ample background to the topic. The second chapter will be discussing the relevance of the study in the existing literature, which will provide studies on different means of education, including ICT education, the different uses, the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet, the development of Internet cafés, and the effect of the use of the Internet to the students, teachers and parents. The third part of the thesis will discuss the methods and procedures used in the study, and comprise the presentation of the utilized techniques for data collection and research methodology. The fourth chapter will be an analysis on the tabulated data, which will include the use of computations, graphs, charts and tables, in order to uncover the relationship of the variables involved in the study. With the said data, the chapter seeks to address the statement of the problem noted in the first chapter. The last chapter will be comprised of three sections, which include the discussion of the findings and results, the conclusions of the thesis, and the recommendations for the study. With these three portions, the chapter will be able to highlight the implication of the findings in relation to the data obtained in the thesis.


1.1Background of the Study

            Culture can be defined as the ways of acting, thinking and feeling, which are transmitted from generation to generation, and across societies through learning, not through inheritance (Albrow). Culture includes language and technology, both of which involve the communication of ideas and the possibility of sophisticated coordination of action. Culture vastly enhances adaptability (Albrow), thus, allow individuals to cope with the changes that happen in the society. A specific culture is being developed and learned in a specific society. A society is basically the overall relationship among humans and the things that surround us (Albrow). Human society in general, extends to all human beings, with which refers to the total number of members of the animal species (Albrow). In relation to this is the fact that the development of a specific culture depends on the influence of a community, particularly, an educational community. Ellen Hall and Richard Handley report that an educational community can provide support for its members to succeed, given that it is small and intimate enough for every member to know each other’s needs (141-142). With this importance, it can be understood that a community must be small and intimate for a particular culture to be inculcated in the practices of members. This aspect can be observed in understanding the concept of cyber culture.  

The importance of the concept of cyber culture would be appreciated more effectively with knowing the idea of a cyber society. In relation to the general definition of a society, cyber society, thus, can be defined as the overall relationship among humans, software, programs and others through the use of the Internet. Similar to an actual society, the cyber society also has norms and cultures that members ritually or habitually conform to. The norms and culture specified here in particular is cyber culture. This is basically the culture present in online societies or communities. Communities include online forums, chats and other specialized websites that discusses a particular topic. Nevertheless, the development of such online communities transcends even the educational sector, such that nowadays, schools distribute reading materials online, with instructions being delivered to students and to teachers through emails (Wells and Lewis). With this, the importance of the use of the Internet becomes inevitable, as many individuals, especially students become highly dependent on it. The World Wide Web, now, becomes crucial to the improvement and development of education in the United States. However, the use and importance of the Internet in obtaining education is perceived to present both advantages and disadvantages, thus, is not completely regarded as beneficial to students. The close contact between cyber culture, the Internet, and school communities develops a new culture and new attitudes in relation to obtaining education in the United States, which affects the practices, values and attitudes of American students. With this, this research paper or thesis presents views of students, teachers and parents in relation to the use of the Internet as a means of obtaining education in the United States.     


1.2 Objectives of the Study

            The main aim of the study is to be able to identify the effects of cyber culture to the school community or to its culture. It aims to determine if such connection or interaction has any positive or negative impacts to the latter. Through this study, the following objectives will be completed:

Ø      To conduct a survey on several students who are active of a particular cyber society, within a specific school;

Ø      To conduct a survey on teachers who are teaching in a school where students have 100% access to the Internet; and

Ø      To be able to assess and analyze the impact of Internet access and cyber culture among students on the progress of learning and the environment of the school


1.3 Statement of the Problem         

The main question or problem that the study will try to answer is how cyber culture changes the school community in the United States. Additionally, the following research questions will also be explored in the study:

Ø      What are the positive and negative effects of Internet access to schools in the United States?

Ø      Does cyber culture affect the learning progress of students within these schools?

Ø      How do the teachers view cyber culture? Do they think it can help in the creation of a better learning environment?

Ø      How do the students view cyber culture? Are they fond of cyber culture or do they think it is just a waste of time?

Ø      What are the advantages and disadvantages of cyber culture within the school community?


2. Review of Related Literature

            It has already been mentioned that specific cultures are being developed in specific communities and societies, including the educational community, such as schools, universities and academic institutions. The culture being developed in academic institutions depends on the method or form of educational methods being implored. There are two known methods or forms of education, namely the conventional method and the ICT education. The conventional methods of education refer the traditional strategies or ways of obtaining education, which include classroom discussions, the use of chalks and blackboards, school bells, the library, assignments, and detention. In addition, students and school staff wear khaki pants and shirts, the men and boys wear sporting ties, and when classes change, students line up single file in corridors, their three-ring binders bursting with papers, and walking in silence until a teacher greets them and invites them into their next class (Harrington-Leuker). However, with the development and improvement of technology and communication, the use of the Internet now becomes a good means of education for many. With this, the implementation of ICT education or educational technology plays an important role in academic institutions. Information and Communications Technology or ICT education uses the computer and the Internet in providing education, knowledge and learning to individuals, especially to students. It has been reported that over the past twenty years, the implementation of ICT education has been constantly updated through investing large sums of money in equipment, software and training, which need to be continuously upgraded or renewed (Aviram). With this, many billions of dollars and much energy, good will and time have been spent in introducing a number of generations of computer to academic institutions, in the aim to introduce ICT education, and these efforts are closely followed by the introduction of multimedia and the Internet (Aviram). Aside from the large costs associated with the equipments to be used is the expensive cost of the technology itself that is required in ICT education. This technology must afford significant educational advantage, and must be networked and portable (Wiske). Along with these is the adjustment of teachers to accommodate the use of such technology, which entails a good deal of time, effort and money for training. ICT education and the online program is undoubtedly the most serious challenge to conventional academia, which includes no dormitories, no fraternities, sororities or student organizations and publications, not even a library, and no traditional campus (Mccarthy). With this, it can be understood that the implementation of ICT education in academic institutions entails a lot of preparation, compared to the implementation of conventional methods of education.

            However, the changes that happen in the society nowadays force many academic institutions to try revolutionary strategies or forms of education, which involves the use of the Internet. With this, the use of the Internet must be evaluated, in terms of its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of using the Internet is being an effective and efficient means of communicating with individuals irregardless of distance, culture, and race. With the use of the Internet, more individuals are able to relate with each other, through chat rooms, emails and other interactive websites. In addition, the use of the Internet enables individuals to dissipate and receive relevant and useful information from other individuals on the other side of the planet, including gossips, news, and fashion. Some online companies also established themselves in terms of online auctions, such as eBay and The use of such websites enables consumers to obtain information on different products and services available. In relation to this use is the further improvement and development of the business and marketing sector, which is further enhanced with the use of technology. As such, the role of the Internet in communication is being emphasized through this. The second advantage of using the Internet is related to entertainment. The development of the World Wide Web led many online companies to generate online games and other websites that provide entertainment to Internet users. This form of advantage enables many users to maximize the use of the Internet because it serves a good means of relaxation for them, such that the Internet has a variety of websites that offer online games, downloadable games, interactive and role-playing games, and many others. In addition, as a source of entertainment, Internet users can also websites that offer horoscopes, the latest news from their favorite stars, online dating and making friends, and many others. The Internet also provides users with collectible items, such as wallpapers, screen savers, music, and videos, which set the latest trend and fashion among the younger generation. The third and last use of the Internet is as an effective means of education. With the use of the Internet, users can access vast collections of academic and professional books, journals, magazines and newspapers, which are credible and relevant materials in obtaining education. In addition, the Internet also provides online research websites that provide the same volume of useful information and knowledge. With this, students and anyone who yearns and thirsts for knowledge would have the opportunity to access and obtain information with the click of their mouse. Thus, its use is most functional and beneficial in obtaining relevant information regarding different subject matters and topics.

            However, despite the advantages of using the Internet is the presence of disadvantages. One of them is the fact that the use of the Internet may lead to committing crimes. Crimes can also be committed using the Internet, and this includes computer hacking. It has been reported 26% of cyber crime start in the United States, and followed by China with 24% (Ranofsky). Many cyber crimes are committed by students to prove that they can do it, while many do the same criminal acts for the millions of dollars they can generate through extortion. The common forms of computer and Internet hacking is through a virus, and through spying incidents (Radnofsky). With these, it can be understood that the confidential information being kept by companies can be accessed by unauthorized individuals. These cyber crimes must therefore be prevented to uphold the essence of secrecy and rightful protection deserved by individuals and companies. Another disadvantage of using the Internet is through pornography. Children and adults alike can easily access pornographic sites, which could help pollute their minds, and become the sources of crimes in the society, such as rape, murder, sexual harassment and many others. The free access to these websites influences many individuals to commit crimes in the society, thus, contribute to the chaos, discord, and disorder in the community. The third and last disadvantage of using the Internet is through cyber bullying. Cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as emails, mobile phones, pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal websites, and defamatory online personal polling websites to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group of individuals that is intended to harm others (qtd. in Keith and Martin). This becomes one of the crises of students, parents and teachers, for many individuals use the Internet and other forms of technologies to hurt others through power and control. It has been reported that of 91% of kids with the age range of 12 to 15 years old and 16 to 18 years olds who use the Internet, 1,566 students from grades four to eight have been found to experience bullying online (qtd. in Keith and Martin). From this, it can be understood that the use of the Internet does not only present positive effects, but negative effects as well. With this information at hand, the effects of cyber culture in relation to education in the United States must be evaluated.


3. Research Methodology

            3.1 Research Design and Data Collection Method

            The research paper uses a descriptive research method, for this method is cheap and quick. It uses observations and surveys, and with the use of this method, it is possible that the study would obtain the needed sources and data. Nonetheless, this method is very hard to rule out alternative explanations and especially infer causations. This descriptive type of research utilizes observations in the study. The purpose of employing this method is to describe the nature of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study and to explore the causes of particular phenomena. The researcher opts to use this kind of research considering the desire of the researcher to obtain first hand data from the respondents to formulate rational and sound conclusions and recommendations for the study.

            To come up with pertinent findings and to provide credible recommendations, this study utilizes two sources of research, namely, primary and secondary. Primary research data was obtained through a survey-questionnaire. The survey-questionnaire was distributed to teachers and students who have complete access to the Internet. The researcher has designed a questionnaire for the purpose of examining the views of teachers and students on cyber culture and its advantages and disadvantages to the learning process. The survey-questionnaire used a mixture of closed and open-ended questions. A closed question is one that has pre-coded answers, which is the simplest way in order to obtain objective answers from respondents. In addition, they will be used in the survey because the answers are easy to analyze and are straightforward as target respondents may not have ample time and attention in answering surveys. However, open-ended questions were also used to provide respondents subjective answers and in expressing their views regarding the topic.

            The questionnaire consisted of mainly three parts. The first part has categorical questions to obtain the personal information of the respondents. The second part has questions pertaining to their views and opinions on cyber culture and the use of the Internet as an effective means of education, and the last part would include a number of open-ended questions for the purpose of a short interview. A 5-point Likert Scale was used in the second part of the questionnaire for the ease of answering. In support of such data gathered, the research has used secondary data from printed sources, such as academic and professional journal articles, books and magazines, to have a strong foundation of the whole study.


            3.2 Sampling Methods

            A simple random sampling was used for this study, which would give all respondents in the population an equal chance of being included in the study, on the consideration and knowledge that all respondents in the population have complete access to the Internet. The sample was randomly selected and a survey-questionnaire was used to measure the theoretical constructs in relation to the effects of the Internet as a means of education in the United States. A 5-poing scale with end points like “strongly agree”, “strongly disagree”, “agree”, “disagree”, and “uncertain” was used to measure the items. On the scale, number 1 indicates the strongly positive response and number 5 indicates the opposite extreme.

            The equivalent weights for the answers will be:

Range                                    Interpretation

            5                                  Strongly Disagree

            4                                  Disagree

            3                                  Uncertain

            2                                  Agree

            1                                  Strongly Agree


The research study considered teachers and students from a K-6th school. The students are active members of a particular cyber society, and have complete access to the Internet. On the other hand, the teachers also have 100% access to the Internet. The proposed sampling frame for the study includes 30 teachers and 50 students. However, due to unavoidable and uncontrollable circumstances, only 20 teachers and 30 students were able to participate in the research study. The total sampling size was then used to represent the whole population.


4. Findings and Results of the Research Study


5. Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations


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