Friday, December 5, 2008

1.5.2: More from the New Zealand scene

The 2007 WIP report from AUT (PDF) gives a useful snapshot of Internet use in New Zealand. Drawing on a sample of 1,430 New Zealanders (randomly selected from the adult population, with 'booster' samples from specific groups), the report found that:

  • 78% of the sample are Internet users. 16% are non-users, 6% 'ex-users'.
  • 15% of the sample accessed the Internet from work, school or public access (that is, not from home).
  • 66% of home users have broadband, 31% dial-up. A further 29% have wireless or mobile access (an unfortunate breakdown in that wireless connectivity might be home-bound).
  • 44% of Internet users believe themselves to be 'excellent' in ability; 30% 'very good', and 30% as 'not good'. Level of confidence is related to the respondents' income.
  • The Internet is rated as the most important source of information, above television, newspapers, radio, and other people. Of course, this conceals more than it reveals; syndicated information sources frequently run across these different media.
  • New Zealanders are divided in terms of how reliable online information is (see prior post on what this means for information literacy). The importance of the Internet for information decreases with age; about 90% of 16-19 year-olds view the Internet as an important source of information, adding more weight to calls for information literacy among the new adult learner population.
  • Significant for those pushing a 'Web 2.0' agenda on the grounds that it is what users demand: only 28% are actively involved in social networking, and only 10% keep a blog. While the report does state that "Some aspects of Internet behaviour such as content creation or social networking were much more prevalent among the under-30s", only about two-thirds check social networking sites on a monthly basis (21% report 'never') and less than 20% of users aged between 16 and 29 keep a blog (and, of course, 'keep' is an open-ended term in itself). Online games are accessed monthly by only about 30% of those aged 16-19, the highest user group of online games.
  • Connectivity and perception of the Internet's usefulness increase with respondents' income. 
The report contains some very useful extrapolations of connectivity based on various demographic information. In my view, e-learning practitioners need to be up to speed with this sort of information as it alerts us to opportunities and potential barriers to our practice. Findings like this help to keep practice well-grounded and realistic; too often we assume what the end-user has, and what their online behaviours are.

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