Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Journalism and Mass Communications


Many land-grant universities are beginning to adopt computer-based information systems. While some universities are well advanced in the development of such systems, others are expanding existing ones or are developing new ones. South Dakota State University is developing an existing computer-based information system. At present, many of South Dakota’s 66 county extension offices use the AGNET (Agricultural Computing Network) system, a large “information utility” that provides problem-solving programs, electronic mail, and computational services to 1,300 clients in 38 states. Through the purchase of additional computer equipment, SDSU hopes to establish, operate, and maintain an integrated communication system between county extension offices and the university. There are those within the extension service that believe the key to the success of such a system lies in the county extension staff, the ag agents and home economists, in whether they are adequately trained in using a computer in this manner. In addition, they maintain the success or failure of a computer-based information system may depend upon the attitudes of these staff members as the key users of the system. The purpose of this study was to discover the attitudes of South Dakota extension personnel towards the adoption of a new computer-based communication system as a means of disseminating information to external audiences. This study also investigated current use patterns of computers by county staff. It used these patterns of use and attitudes to make comparisons of levels of understanding, experience, and formal training with computers, along with other factors such as age, sex, job position, education, and years of employment by the extension service. The results of this study will help the S.D. Cooperative Extension Service develop policy and direction for development of a computer-based information system. This information may also benefit extension services in other states considering such a system. Before determining how these computerized systems might work into current communication patterns, it-would be useful to review the role of the land-grant institution.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

South Dakota State University. Cooperative Extension Service

Computer networks

Information storage and retrieval systems -- Agriculture

Communication in agriculture -- South Dakota

South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University