Computer Literacy

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Gender Differences in Computer Literacy Among Clinical Medical Students in Selected Southern Nigerian Universities

V. E. Ikolo
Assistant Librarian
Delta State University, Library

R. B. Okiy
University Librarian
Delta State University, Library


Information Technology (IT) has had a positive impact on health care delivery system worldwide, particularly in the areas of disease control, diagnosis, patient management, teaching and learning. Anuobi (2004) pointed out that man has scientifically placed himself in an environment that is global and digital, which predisposes him to constant use of information, its location notwithstanding. Shanahan (2006) believes that the health care industry is in a state of constant and rapid change and due to the increase in scientific knowledge and rapid technological advances, there has been a growing emphasis on the physicians need to efficiently access, retrieve, and use scientific evidences to improve patient care ( Li, Tan, Muller & Chen, 2009).

Masood, Khan & Waheed (2010) noted that the availability of affordable computers and the advancement of information technology have resulted in our ability to rapidly and effectively access, retrieve, analyze, share, and store large volumes of information pertinent to patient care and for learning process in a teaching hospital . According to Poelmans, Truyen & Deslé (2009) during the learning process, students are responsible for the management of their own information processes. After their graduation, the job market expects them to function as mobile knowledge-workers. It is therefore vital that students acquire the right attitudes and skills in order to survive in this information society and to deal with the ceaseless information flood.

As Masood, Khan & Waheed (2010) observed, computer skills are vital for medical practitioners of the future. With the medical field being an information intensive profession, to use technology effectively for the advancement of patient care, the medical student must possess a variety of computer skills. However, scholars like Luan, Aziz, Yunus, Sidek, Bakar, Meseran & Atan (2005) have observed that there is a gender gap in the use of ICTs. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to determine if there is a gender difference in the computer literacy levels of clinical medical students by looking at how they have access to computers, the frequency with which they use computers, if there is gender difference in the use of various software and look at problems they face when using computers.

Literature Review

Computer literacy has been a subject of educational research for recent years. Computer literacy is defined as the knowledge and ability to use computers and related technology efficiently, with a range of skills covering levels from elementary use to programming and advanced problem solving Lynch (1998). Computer literacy can also refer to the comfort level someone has with using computer programs and other applications that are associated with computers (Wikipedia 2010). Anuobi (2004), described computer literacy as having a basic understanding of what computer is and how it can be used as a resource. To Lynch (1998), computer technology literacy deals with an understanding of an infrastructure that underpins much of today's life, it also means knowing some basic things about ICT, for example, how to save and open a file, or how to use a word processor (Tella & Mutala, 2008).

The needs of a medical student of the millennium generation in a rapidly changing information society has changed, he now has to confront new challenges which are vital to his survival in the information age. Idowu, Adagunodo, & Idowu (2004) indicated that knowledge, skills and confidence with computer technology are now an asset for those entering the competitive employment market. They further pointed out that every aspect of life from education, leisure, and work environment to social...
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