Dr Lerato Sokhulu graduated with her PhD in Education.
Dr Lerato Sokhulu graduated with her PhD in Education.

UKZN lecturer in the School of Education, Dr Lerato Sokhulu recently graduated with her PhD in Education (Curriculum Studies) for research that explores Master’s Students’ Experiences of Using Digital Technologies in Research.

Said Sokhulu: ‘Digital technologies are used by people in order to attend to 21st century living which often involves digitalised practices. These digitalised practices are driven by the need to meet the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technology innovation, demanding the growing use of digital technologies for various activities.’

She explained that as a result of the 4IR movement, Institutions of Higher Learning use digital technologies for teaching, learning, and research purposes to fulfil educational objectives. ‘Particularly for postgraduate studies, students use digital technologies to access published research, generate empirical data, write their dissertations and communicate with their supervisors and other stakeholders involved in their research studies,’ she said.

The findings of this study indicated that participants experienced the use of digital technologies in positive and negative ways, influenced by various factors such as socialisation, professionalisation and personalisation.

These influences further shaped how the students conducted their master’s research using different digital resources on a mandatory and voluntary basis. Master’s students used their socialisation and professionalisation experiences to solve problems and better understand the use of digital technologies in their studies, resulting in a unique personalisation experience informed by their study needs.

Sokhulu recommends five propositions that could aid in students achieving quality personalisation experience with regards to using digital technologies effectively for their studies.

These five propositions include students reflecting on their experience with digital technologies and finding ways to improve their experience; forming collaborations with other stakeholders and seeking ways to tackle challenges experienced with digital technologies; having patience and enduring a challenging experience; seeking guidance, support and information where deemed necessary; and being self-aware of one’s digital strengths and weaknesses.

Sokhulu thanked her family, friends and supervisor for being her support system during her PhD journey.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan