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Impacts of the Internet on academic culture in Aceh, Indonesia

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  • The adoption and increasing uses of the Internet in higher education in many parts of the world have resulted in fundamental changes in academic cultures. The transfer of information is essential to academic life, and the Internet offers faster and easier access to information and communication between people than ever before. Since the effect of the Internet and the significance of the changes differs from one academic setting to another, it is important to study the impacts of the Internet on one particular academic community. This ethnographic study aims to examine the impacts of the Internet on the academic culture of higher education in Aceh, Indonesia. Data were collected by using ethnography, a method commonly employed in the examination of a culture. While this method consists mainly of interviews and observations, other techniques such as collection of related written materials (E-mail messages and/or communications), documents, and photos were used to supplement the data gathered from interviews and observations in Darussalam, the main campus of higher education in Aceh. Data collected from August 1996 through October 1998 revealed distinct themes in the Internet's impacts on the academic culture in Aceh. Findings of this study show that the Internet allows greater access to information, and facilitates communication, especially between students and faculty. The academics' interest in using the Internet builds a new and different academic culture. This new culture is more open to multiple schools of thought in different fields of study. While traditionally academics were isolated from dynamic knowledge development by their lack of access to information, today the Internet provides a bridge for Darussalam academia to the rest of the academic world. People now see that isolation weakens academic life, and are more open to pluralistic academic paradigms. Thus, the Internet changes the perception, performance, and daily activity in academia. This new culture tends to be democratic and to allow freedom in the development of teaching, learning, research, and other academic activities in Darussalam, Aceh.
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