Doctoral Platforms and Apps for Professional Development and Student Support

Doctoral Platforms and Apps for Professional Development and Student Support

E. Alana James (DoctoralNet Ltd, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7065-3.ch006

Abstract

Using the experience derived across multiple universities, this chapter endeavors to discuss how ICT can play a role in the larger evolution of higher education, as well as with helping doctoral students complete their research and writing requirements. Practitioner research underpins the discussion of two rounds of research centered on ICTs role in equalizing disparity in financial and social capital between students and taking those solutions to scale. The first round (2012 – present) focuses on the ICT suite of services as they develop, and the second (2015 – present) investigates how, and in what ways, the interdependence between the Deans' office and the subscription business play a part in student adoption and usage. The findings suggest that a willingness to develop interdependent solutions between ICT developers and postgraduate studies will be instrumental in bringing services for doctoral students to scale.
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Introduction

This chapter endeavors to discuss how ICT can play a role in the larger evolution of higher education as well as with helping doctoral students complete their research and writing requirements. It starts with a short discussion of this authors’ experience as a supervisor of over 50 students who completed degrees in Education or Business, graduating from online programmes in the United States. These doctoral students were “nontraditional”: from diverse backgrounds, usually older, all at a distance from campus, engaging in education that was heavily influenced by instructional design as well as professorial understanding or personality. Then it goes on to outline lessons learned through two rounds of ongoing action learning/research which took place from 2012-2018. Finally, the chapter ends with a view of a potential future and a discussion of recommended next steps.

A Vice Provost at a university we support told me that, “the most important answer for a university of our size to answer is how we can equalise the difference between students, especially those who have less social and financial capital, and how we can take those solutions to scale” (Benedik, 2017). The underlying question that serves as a focus for the research discussed in this chapter cycles back to that problem by asking, “What kinds of technology will be part of the solution and how should it be delivered?”

As author, I stand between two roles in this document: author and researcher on the one side, and founder and CEO of the company that provides the Software as a Service (SaaS) to universities that has been studied. Thus, I am a new type of practitioner, academically trained and previously employed educator, now discussing ICT teaching and learning as owner of the business that interacts with Deans and Provosts responsible for Postgraduate Studies.

Three premises underlie this chapter and the beliefs about ICT for doctoral education and constitute the wider picture of doctoral education upon which it is based: 1) that postgraduate education is unique in many ways and therefore students deserve ICT that respects that unique environment, 2) that doctoral professional development and ICT have not kept up with changes in the potential of technology, forcing universities to either repeat what they have always done by regularly hosting seminars that may be attended only by a few, or to adopt undergraduate retention and completion technology which only partially hits the mark for doctoral students, and 3) the research in this chapter draws no distinction between the “professional” doctorate and the PhD when it comes to what professional development and support are needed, as it has been the experience of this researcher that during the end game of viva or final defense, few examiners draw any real distinction when discussing the rigor and requirements of the final dissertation or thesis.

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