Examination of web page interests and computer skills of members of a professional association
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The purpose of this study was to survey the membership of the Education and Technology (E&T) Division of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) to contribute, in part, to the development of the technology strategic plan for building the E&T Division web page. The profession is recognized as an integrative field of study focused on the well being of individuals, families, and consumers and the reciprocal relations with their environments. Classifications within the AAFCS membership are by divisions, to indicate the member education emphasis, and, sections to represent member employment areas. Eight objectives were established to guide the study. The objectives for the survey focused on the following areas; current visitation to the AAFCS Web Site, interest in four topics and 23 sub-topics to be included at the website, intent to use five communications utilities, level of need for seven website features, current computer use, websites visited most often in professional role, frequency of use of the computer for seven processes, seven computer-related training needs, how decisions should be made about what is included at the web page, and the professional background of respondents. The sample for the research study was drawn from the 1999 membership list of the E&T Division supplied by the headquarters office of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. At the time, there were approximately 3,800 registered members in the E&T Division. A 20% random sample, crossed by each of the six sections of the Association represented within the division was selected. A finding of the study was the disparity in the number of members in the individual sections of the association; eighty-five percent of the division members were in the Elementary, Secondary and Adult Education Sections. Therefore, the sample was combined for data analysis. Using a researcher-developed instrument, the traditional mail survey was sent out in May 1999. An online version of the survey was published on the World Wide Web (WWW) in May 2000. The combined responses to the two surveys (N=371) resulted in a 24% overall return. The surveys generated both qualitative and quantitative data with regard to the questions asked. American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Technology Division members responding to the survey were seasoned educators who were employed in the public school system at the secondary level (64%), the college level (12%), and other positions in the public domain. Members of the E&T Division were looking for practical support for their professional roles. Respondents expressed the highest level of interest for teaching materials and teaching-related information, web sites, and advertisement/online exhibits. There were also high levels of interest in distant education courses, curriculum center links, factual information and critical issues, public affairs/legislation, and a membership directory. Member interest in web site features and communication utilities indicated the highest intent to use electronic mail, links, and networking opportunities. Computer literate, the respondents used E-mail, the Internet, and WWW frequently. The division members wanted training in web page development and applications for integration of the computer into the classroom. Members wanted a recognized authority familiar with the professions interests, making decisions about what is to be accepted at the web page. This study was one portion of a larger effort toward developing a technology strategic plan for the E&T Division. Considerations outside of the parameters of this project such as the ability of the AAFCS organization to implement changes, and to provide staffing to support the recommendations for the E&T Division web pages were unknown.