MS Word is Not the Only Digital Tool in the Postgraduate Journey

Yes, Microsoft Word is the most frequently used digital tool in most people’s postgraduate journey – but in order to make full use of digital technologies, there is a whole wider world of knowledge (or rather, experiences) to explore.

Of course, we can argue that if we complete our postgraduate journey in a timely manner, does it matter if we use various digital tools, or if we use them effectively and efficiently? The answer is a big YES, especially when postgraduate study is about more than submitting a dissertation or a thesis.

Under normal circumstances, one will join the workforce after their postgraduate study. Even if you are doing postgraduate study as a hobby, the skills you acquire during this journey could be beneficial in daily life. Like it or not, we are living in a digital world. One thing the global pandemic has taught us is that, when all the physical spaces are disrupted, only the virtual world keeps going!

For instance, you could have better time management, as well as a better chance of meeting milestones, by setting up your Outlook Calendar from Day One of the journey. Another example is OneNote. Setting this up in the beginning phase of the research could have benefits for both the data collection and analysis phases; in terms of generating, mind mapping and sharing ideas between you and your supervisors. Such shared platforms can establish research transparency within the team and enrich our communication on research development.

If you’d like to learn more, here is a relevant blog which I wrote in 2015 on my own experiences of how various digital tools could be embedded in a PhD journey.

However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of each digital tool use, it is also worthwhile for us to reflect our relationship with digital technologies. I have been researching the use of digital technologies in higher education since I did my Postgraduate Diploma dissertation in 2011. In 2019, my collaborator Sarah Stein and I developed a model that maps the relationships amongst students, the doctoral study, and other human and contextual factors which have an influencing and determining impact on the perceptions that doctoral students hold about ICTs (Information Communication and Technologies) and their research study work.

Theoretical model showing the factors influencing use of digital tools in doctoral study. External factors include ICT availability, literature, and peer influence. Internal factors include awareness, context, and personal constructs.

As shown in the model, there are a lot of factors that contribute to our actions to change our practices and/or decide to try new ideas – the use of digital tools in this context. In other words, we determine the use of digital tools in our postgraduate research journey in light of all the other factors around.

In order to aid your self-determination in digital tools use, I would like to welcome you to attend the following two newly developed workshops for a discussion on this topic. You never know; there could be an idea that will have a positive impact on your postgraduate journey.

1. Use of Digital Technologies for Efficient Supervision Practices

This workshop introduces participants to various digital tools that are available to increase effective and efficient supervision practices for both supervisors and supervisees. This includes enhancing the transparency of a feedback loop, systematic file(s) organisation, the coherence between supervision meetings etc. This workshop suits both postgraduate supervisors and students. Register now.

1st September 2022 (Thursday) 2-3:30pm on the city campus (or join via Zoom)

2. Use of Digital Notebooks for Effective Research Progress

This workshop introduces participants to online notebooks that are available to enhance supervision experiences for both supervisors and supervisees. Participants will learn how to set up a digital notebook, and how to use the notebook for various purposes in supervision (e.g., brainstorming, unpacking or linking ideas for an output). This workshop suits both postgraduate supervisors and students. Register now.

13th September 2022 (Tuesday) 2-3:30pm on the city campus (or join via Zoom)

About Kwong Nui Sim

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