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A study of community technological needs and resources.

INTRODUCTION

Institutions of higher learning play a major role in the dissemination of knowledge in today's society. Up until the 20th century, institutions of higher learning in the United States achieved world recognition in the exploration and implementation of three key missions: Research, teaching and service. The purpose of research is to use existing knowledge, discover or advance new learning. The intent of teaching is to improve and expand learning. Lastly, the objective of service is to apply the knowledge process in order to improve communities and citizens (O'Banion, 2010).

As the 21st century began, "learning" was added as a major new frontier of institutions and considered essential to the productivity of the institution. Today as a vehicle of advancement, technology is ever growing and becomes a necessity of everyday life. In the 21st century, it is farfetched to create jobs and eliminate poverty without extensively utilizing science, applying appropriate technology and initiating the concept of innovation at all levels of society (Chaimovich, 2005).

The key to learning process is knowledge management which allows for discovery and creation of new processes, and technology along with opportunities. Once knowledge is acquired, a strategy must be implemented to ensure knowledge is disseminated effectively and accurately that can be done through content management. Content management specifies how the knowledge is effectively distributed. Content management can be challenging; however, if conducted properly it allows for a greater return on investment (Marsh, 2004).

The purpose of knowledge management is to create, retain, share, and apply knowledge with the sole purpose of better achieving objectives (knowledge-management-online.com, 2009). Knowledge management in education can be described as an approach which enables people within an organization to develop a strategy to collect information and share what they know through different vehicles such as communities of practice and training classes (Mason, 2003). The full potential of knowledge management is dependent on its opportunities for improving student outcomes (Nodine, 2003).

Today, institutions of higher learning are focusing their technological and educational resources on how to better meet the needs of their students and to some extent the needs of alumni. There is more effort needed to integrate the needs of the community into their curriculum. By understanding and meeting the needs of the community, institutions can reach their full potential of increasing their constituents and solicitation base.

Institutions rely on the support of stakeholders to provide additional funding to close the gap between the funds needed for operation and the federal and state funds received (Diversebusinessnews.com, 2011). Fundraising is not a new objective of institutions of higher learning; however, it has become a national trend for institutions to take their financial futures into their own hands. These funds from private donors assist with campus improvements, hiring of faculty and staff, and the creation of student scholarships (Associated Press, 2011). Institutions of higher learning must cater to the needs of their donors in order that they may receive their support; the same must be done for the community. In order to meet the needs of the community, institutions of higher learning must overcome four major challenges including developing strategies, creating portals, and integrating strategies into plans and operations.

As the economy is currently suffering an economic downturn, it is seen that organizations are relying more on their current employees to maintain operation of business (Wadecki, 2012). As technology is ever changing, individuals must stay abreast of the current trends and knowledgeable of their current profession. Due to raid changes in technology, the training of employees is essential to the growth of a company and community. Training is the key to innovation and productivity. The benefits of good training include lower turnover, higher sales, and better service for customers (Love, 2007).

Institutions of higher learning are also being affected by the economic downturn and must play a part to ensure that the community is receiving the needed technological and educational support to advance in today's society, allowing for relational ties to form between the community and institutions of higher learning. Once the bond is formed between the above entities, there is a greater chance of receiving financial support from individuals now invested in the institution (Harvey, 2011). This study investigates and discusses the community technological needs for educational and training resources and how through knowledge and content management these needs can be met.

BACKGROUND OF THIS STUDY

As technology is continuously evolving, it provides users with faster methods of reaching goals through technological vehicles. As important as technology is to society, knowledge is also a major factor. The use of knowledge management in different sectors is increasing as many organizations are beginning to rely heavily on the knowledge of their employees, customers, supporters, etc. to increase the growth of organizations. The key factors of utilizing knowledge management are the acquiring, analyzing and distribution of knowledge. These factors can be achieved through the use of several resources including data mining, data warehouses, and communities of practices.

Knowledge Management

The purpose of Knowledge management is to improve relationships between individuals, create greater rate of connectivity, solve problems with ease while still understanding the outcomes, and enhance the skills of individuals and groups across a sector or organization as a whole (Mutt, 2010). Many organizations are beginning to understand the importance and effectiveness of knowledge management and have begun to implement the process in their organization to achieve better results.

There are two forms of knowledge, which include explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is described as formal knowledge which is bundled as information and can be found in documents. Tacit knowledge is more hands on knowledge (Kemmani, 2009). In any organization, therefore, the goal is to create a hybrid design for its knowledge management practice that fuses the "right" combination and balance of the tacit and explicit knowledge management approaches (Sanchez, 2000). Liu and Parmelee (2002) states that knowledge management can be viewed in terms of people, processes, and technology.

All information cannot be considered as knowledge, and all knowledge is not valuable. Obtaining a plethora of knowledge without effectively utilizing it to improve a task renders the knowledge invaluable. The target is to find the worthwhile knowledge within an enormous sea of information (About-goal-setting.com, 2011). Knowledge is ever changing, which makes today's knowledge (Petrides, 2004). Knowledge that doesn't flow doesn't grow and eventually ages and becomes obsolete and useless; knowledge that flows, by being shared, acquired and exchanged, generates new knowledge.

The first step of data mining is data collection. All businesses require the collection of data (Roy, 2010). Data mining is used among many different types of organizations. Through data mining these organizations are able to find essential information that is hiding within their current data, which if used properly, can increase productivity and growth. In order to operate successfully, institutions of higher learning must understand/know the needs of their constituents, whether they are students, faculty, staff, alumni or members of the community (Luan, 2002).

In the private sector an example of data mining is seen through Wal-Mart, which uploads 20 million point-of-sale transactions to an A&T massively parallel system with 483 processors running a centralized database. This raw data does not mean anything to Wal-Mart. This data must be turned into useful information in order that the needs of their customers, market, and management investment strategies (Alexander, 2011).

Data mining has been proven as a useful tool for organizations and is used in a wide variety of fields (Thearling, 2010). Companies include pharmaceutical, credit card, diversified transportation and, consumer package goods. In any of these companies data can be analyzed to force activities and improve targeting of high-value products and determine which market activities will have the greatest impact in the future. Institutions of higher learning are not exception. They also can apply data mining method to identify the attribute of high-value prospect students, alumni, and members of community.

Data Warehouse

A data warehouse is a major factor in the decision support system which is a technique used to come up with facts, trends or relationships that allow for effective decision making and the creation of effective strategies to accomplish organizational goals (Bandarupalli, 2010). Organizations that use data warehouses must have detailed information that relates to transactions that take place within a group. When an organization is able to analyze detailed information as it relates to its own operations, the organization can make strategic decisions. Knowledge warehousing and data warehousing are both subject oriented, integrated, time-variant, and support and focus on the decision making processes (Power, 2008).

Communities of Practice

The purpose of communities of practice is the sharing of knowledge, thus communities of practice cannot exist without knowledge management. In order to have successful knowledge management as it relates to communities of practice, the following must occur: knowledge must be shared, given value and meaning as it relates to the context, and then knowledge is shared with others. A community of practice is a perfect tool for both sharing the knowledge and returning it into the organizational system through the sharing of the knowledge with others (Smith, 2008). Institutions of higher learning can take the advantage of community of practice to develop a stable relationship with community and provide services to meet the needs of members of community.

METHODOLOGY

The mission of the higher learning institutions is to promote education, which should not only be confined to those within the walls of the institutions. The promotion of education within the community is progressive and allows for growing of relationships between the community and institution. Institutions of higher learning currently have the tools to assist the community with their technological needs including providing training and facilitating educational resources. Through the use of data mining and knowledge management institutions of higher learning are able to collect pertinent data focusing on the technological needs of the community and use their knowledge resources to meet the demands.

This section describes the methodology for investigating and analyzing data concerning the technological needs of the community. This study provides institutions of higher learning a synopsis of the technological needs of their surrounding community and what programs or initiatives should be implemented by institutions in order to fulfill those needs. Through the research conducted with community and sample group of institutions the following research questions were developed and addressed:

Q1. What are the demographics of the community and does it affect the need for technological/educational resource training?

Q2. Is there a need for technological/educational resource training within community?

Q3. What type of technological/educational resource training should be offered by institutions of higher learning?

Q4. Does institution have facilities to accommodate training classes for community?

Q5. Does institution currently offer technological training to members of community free of charge?

The methodology is based on data-driven model that includes collecting, tabulating, and analyzing data.

Survey Questionnaire

The utilized survey questionnaire was developed by the authors of this study; it consisted of 10 questions which allowed individuals with and without educational backgrounds to participate in the survey. The purpose of the survey was to collect data reflecting the technological and educational resources needed by the community. Questions 1-5 focused on the demographics and educational background of the individual completing the survey questionnaire. Questions 6-9 addressed the individuals' present or future employment situation. Question 10 allowed for participants to select from a list of current technological and educational resources possibly needed in today's professions. Participants were instructed to select resources that best benefit them in their current position or any resource that they were interested in receiving additional knowledge or training in.

Sample and Data Collection

Three institutions of higher learning located in Louisiana were researched to acquire information on their current technological training resources offered to members of the community. Data were collected from institutions of higher learning via phone, face-to- face and Internet. Information Technology and Community Relations staff members were contacted to receive answers questions. Three hundred and fifty surveys were distributed to individuals residing in Southeastern Louisiana, Huntsville, AL and Springdale, AR. Survey questionnaires were provided to all segments of the community including, employed, unemployed, etc. Survey questionnaires were distributed through the means of face-to-face visits and via email. The distribution processes were conducted at churches, institutions of higher learning, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

Six (6) sites were used to distribute and collect surveys, which were chosen randomly. Two sites were located out of the state of Louisiana and survey was sent to surveyors via email. The survey forms were distributed and completed by participants during the timeframe of January-February 2014.

Of the 350 survey questionnaires distributed, 204 were retrieved yielding a fifty-eight percent (58%) return ratio. Forty-two percent (42%) of survey questionnaires were not completed or were unable to be retrieved. Surveys were sent via email to sites located out of state as PDF files. Sites residing in Louisiana were provided hard copies of the survey and it was also sent via email. Surveys collected were counted by hand to ensure each survey had at least a 50% completion rate.

Data Analysis

The data reflects that many participants are interested in receiving additional technological and educational training resources as it relates to their current employment, acquiring employment, or personal growth. Despite the differences in educational background and location of survey participant's consistency is seen in the data that suggests there is a great demand for technological training. The data also showed that the majority of participants are employed in New Orleans, LA. Many of these participants hold entry and mid-level positions. The majority of participants were interested in receiving training in general computer and software knowledge. Additional research collected from three sample institutions reflects that technological and educational resource training is currently not being offered by institutions.

FINDINGS

Knowledge Management and Data Mining are effective tools being utilized by many business organizations to track and understand the needs of their employees and customers. This study addresses the use of these tools by institutions to evaluate the technological and educational resource training needs of their communities. A survey was conducted in order to acquire the technological needs of the community with additional research reflecting if training is currently being offered by three sample institutions of higher learning. As indicated the objective of this research work is formulated in terms of five key questions which will be discussed here in this section.

Q 1: What are the demographics of the community and do they affect the needs for Technological and educational resource training?

Data analysis in Figure 1 shows that 61% of survey participants were women and 38% were men. Surveys also reflected that 60% of women and 37% of men were interested in receiving some type of technological training. One percent of women and 1% of men were not interested in receiving technological training. One survey did not reflect gender or technological training need, which represents 1%. The above calculations are based on the 204 surveys collected. Figure 1 shows that gender does not play a factor in the need for technological and educational resource training within the community.

Q 2: Is there a need for technological and educational resource training within community?

Figure 2 illustrates that 90% of the participants attended or completed their study at an institution of higher learning and 11% did not. Of the 89% institution of higher learning attendees 13% attended a 2-year institution located in Louisiana, 61% attended a 4-year institution in Louisiana and 16% attended institutions other than those listed on survey. A distinction was unable to be made on if institution was a 2 or 4 year. Although, 90% received some type of formal educational training, the need for additional training and educational resources was still reflected in survey.

Figure 3 reflects that 68% of survey participants are employed and 32 % are unemployed.

Figure 4 illustrates that 32% of participants are unemployed for different reasons which are reflected in the table. From this information we can deduce that several of these individuals would benefit from training which will assist with the pursuit of employment.

Figure 5 shows that 24% of participants hold an entry level position in their current place of employment. Research shows that individuals, who acquire effective training, are knowledgeable about their profession and stay abreast of current professional trends have a greater chance of advancement and longevity in their careers.

Q 3: What type of technological/educational resource training should be offered by institutions of higher learning?

Table 1 shows a breakdown of all technological and educational resources recommended to participant. Table 1 reflects the greatest need and request of technological training from participants as it relates to certain professions and general computer knowledge. The top training/educational resources requested are seen in Table 1 which include 35% Microsoft 2010 software training, 21% database creation and usage, 20% computer installation and general knowledge, 19% Internet search and research, 15% online learning course software for students, 14% small business directory of requirements, 13% accounting/e-business software, 11% interactive classroom materials, 10% coding, 9% hospital management software and 9% inventory software and tracking systems.

Q 4: Does the institution have facilities to accommodate training classes for community?

Results show that all three institutions answered this question with a "Yes" reflected in Table 1. All institutions stated that they have the accommodations to hold training classes on their campuses. Trainees would have access to computer labs, a library and instructors. Research shows that all sample institutions currently can accommodate the training/educational resource training needs of the community.

Figure 7 reflects the total number of responses each sector received for requested training. Participants were allowed to make as many choices as they preferred on the survey in reference to requested training needs. General computer knowledge, education, and business were the three leading sectors requested among participants. Based on the community survey results the majority of participants were interested in receiving training in the areas of: Microsoft 2010 software, database creation and usage, internet search and usage, computer installation and general knowledge. These needs of the community are very general and several institutions of higher learning offer these types of classes to their current students no matter their course of study.

Q 5: Does the institution currently offer technological training to members of community free of charge?

Additional research was conducted among three sample institutions of higher learning located in Louisiana. Information collected from these institutions were in reference to what type of technological/educational resource training is currently offered to the community and possible facility accommodations for training. Table 2 reflects the results of the two survey questions asked of sample institutions.

In reference to question #4, the surveyed sample institutions made the following comments: Sample Institution 1--currently institution does not offer any training classes to community free of charge. Presently, efforts are focused on providing training classes for current employees and students. Training classes offered free of charge include Microsoft Office Software and Banner. The classes are offered as they are the core essential software needed by the majority of employees and students of University.

The Institution 1 interviewee was very passionate about this initiative and felt that not only would the community benefit from the training, but the institution would as well. The individual from Institution 1 indicated that recently members of their ITC staff presented a proposal to their supervisor for review and approval in regards to offer training classes to the surrounding community.

Sample Institution 2--does not offer any training classes to community free of charge. Institution does offer continuing education and workforce development classes to community for a fee. Members of community can participate in workforce development classes only through their employer. An employer must sign up with Louisiana Unemployment Office to participate in program. The individual does not have to pay to participate; however, the employer will pay fees.

Sample Institution 3--does not offer any training classes to community. Just as Institution 1, efforts are also focused on providing training for employees and students. However, unlike Institution 1, Institution 3 offers training/educational resource classes to alumni of the institution. A few training/educational resources offered to alumni by Institution 3 include, but are not limited to: grant writing and small business tools.

CONCLUSION

One of the primary goals of higher learning institutions is to contribute to the solution of the existing needs of society. This research provides evidence that institutions of higher learning can also provide knowledge to members of the community by utilizing the tools of knowledge management and data mining. Through the research conducted, a need of technological/educational resource training within the community was seen. In order to provide the proper and requested training tools, knowledge management can be implemented by institutions of higher learning allowing for an accurate interpretation of the needs of the community. Once the knowledge is acquired, data mining can be performed enabling the data to be analyzed, which gives institution a general idea of how to meet the training needs of the community.

The 54% of survey participants were employed and held entry or mid-level positions within their current employment. Although these individuals were employed, research showed that these individuals were interested in receiving additional training in their current areas of employment and others. These requested technological/educational resource trainings can be offered by institutions of higher learning in order to assist the community with education, career advancement and employment.

The majority of participants were interested in receiving training in the areas of general computer and software knowledge, education, business and health. These areas are very general, as many institutions of higher learning offer courses related to these fields of study. Institutions of higher learning can offer free classes to the community focusing on the most requested training needs. Training can be held in current facilities of institution allowing for the utilization of labs, computers, and training tools. Classes can be conducted by current instructors of institutions or by students of institutions. Students can be offered extra credit in order that there may not be an additional expense to the university.

Communities of practice can also be a resource tool to assist institutions with fulfilling training needs. If institutions are unable to provide an instructor for a training class, institutions can assist with establishing communities of practice which can held at institution or in workplace. They can provide the individual who is seeking training assistance with the tools of operating a community of practice.

Ghasem S. Alijani

Obyung Kwun

Adnan Omar

LaKeysha C. Arthur

Southern University at New Orleans

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Ghasem S. Alijani is a professor in the College of Business and Public Administration at Southern University at New Orleans, Louisiana. He received the M.S. degree in System Science and the M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Michigan State University in 1979 and 1981 respectively. In 1988 he received the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Wayne State University, Detroit. His primary research areas include Integrated Information Systems Design, E-medicine, Decision-Support Systems, E-commerce, Adaptive Resource Management, Security, Real-time Systems and Critical Missions.

Obyung Kwun is an associate professor of Computer Information Systems at Southern University at New Orleans. He earned the doctoral degree in Management Information systems from the University of Mississippi in 2004. His teaching includes database systems, systems analysis and design, project management, programming, and introduction of management information systems for both undergraduate and graduate students. His research interest includes e-commerce, systems development, end-user computing, and e-learning.

Adnan Omar holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Omar is a Professor and Chair of Computer Information Systems in the College of Business and Public Administration at Southern University at New Orleans, Louisiana. His current research areas include online learning, security, Education and Applied Information Technology. Dr. Omar also attended and presented many papers at regional, national, international conferences.

LaKeysha C. Arthur earned her B.S. degree in Business Administration in 2008 and a M.S. degree in Management Information Systems from Southern University at New Orleans in 2012. She has been an employee of Xavier University for 16 years holding the position of Alumni Relations Specialist, Annual Fund Manager, Interim Director of Alumni Relationships and Stewardship Manages.
Table 1
Technology Oriented Services

Application                                      %

Online Learning Course Software                 15

Real-Time Monitoring of Student Progress         8

Small Business Directory or Requirements        14

Structural/Mechanical Engineering Software       6

BID (Building Information Modeling)              5

Coding                                          10

LexisNexis                                       4

Quicken Will Maker Plus 2013                     1

Online Database of Famous Writers                4

C++ Software                                     6

Statistical Hypothesis Testing                   2

Internet Search Research                        19

Computer Installation and General Knowledge     20

Interactive Classroom Materials                 11

Accounting/E-business Software                  13

Inventory Software and Tracking Systems          9

CAD/CAM/CAE Software                             7

Hospital Management Software                     9

Oncology Data Management                         2

Quicken Legal Business Pro 2013                  3

Creative Writing Software                        8

Grammar/Spelling Software                        3

Mathematical Modeling                            1

Database Creation and Usage                     21

Software Training-Microsoft 2010-13             35

Table 2
Sample Institution Survey Results

                  Q4--Does institution      Q5--Does institution
                   have facilities to          currently offer
                       accommodate         technological training
Sample              training classes       to members of community
Institutions         for community?           free of charge?

Institution 1      Yes           No          Yes           No
Institution 2      Yes           No          Yes           No
Institution 3      Yes           No          Yes           No

Figure 1
Technological Training Results by Gender

Demographics of Survey Participants interested in Technological
Training

Unknown Gender,  1%
Male-YES,        37%
Male-NO,         1%
Female-YES,      60%
Female-NO,       1%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Figure 2
Institution of Higher Learning Attendee Percentage

Percentage of Institution of Attendee Percentage

2-Year    13%
4-Year    61%
Other     16%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 3
Employment Statistics

Employment Statistics

Unemployed   32%
Employed     68%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Figure 4
Unemployment Statistics

               Unemployment Statistics

            Looking     Raising a   Retired  Student   Volunteer
            for Work    Family

Tabulation  10%         1%          2%       16%       0%

            Not Working for
            Other Reasons

Tabulation  3%

Figure 5
Employment Level Breakdown

          Entry Level   Mid-Level   Senior   Executive   Chief
                                    Level    Level       Executive

% Level   24%           30%         7%       1%          4%

          Unknown     Unemployed

% Level   3%          32%

Figure 6
Requested Training Tools

Top Multiple Requested Training Tools

                                                     % of Responses

Hospital Management Software                               9%

Inventory Software and Tracking Systems                    9%

Interactive Classroom Materials                           11%

Online Learning Course Software for Student               15%

Coding                                                    10%

Small Business Directory of Requirements                  14%

Accounting/E-Business Software                            13%

Computer Installation and General Knowledge               20%

Software Training--Microsoft 2010                         35%

Internet Search and Research                              19%

Database Creation and Usage                               21%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Figure 7
Leading Sectors for Training

3 Leading Sectors requested for
Technology/Educational Resource Training

                   Education     Business    General Computer and
                                             Software Knowledge

# of Responses,    72%
# of Responses,                   75%
# of Responses,                                  192%

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Article Details
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Author:Alijani, Ghasem S.; Kwun, Obyung; Omar, Adnan; Arthur, LaKeysha C.
Publication:International Journal of Business Research and Information Technology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2015
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