The digital PhD student

Doyle, Joanne and Rees, Sharon and Farley, Helen and Keppell, Mike (2013) The digital PhD student. In: 30th Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference (ASCILITE 2013): Electric Dreams, 1-4 Dec 2013, Sydney, Australia.

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Today’s higher degree research student has the opportunity to be better connected than ever before. The increasing accessibility of digital technology has changed the way students locate and share information, manage data, establish networks and collaborate. However, has the prevalence of digital technology, web-based tools and advanced software created a complex research environment that is more exhausting than exhaustive?

The challenge for higher degree research students is to manage the vast range of digital resources to maximum advantage. The student of today seeks to integrate formal and informal learning, personalising and adapting spaces to their own needs (Keppell, 2013). The overwhelming array of options can render the digital world exhausting for the many students ill-equipped to handle it. While many students have a good knowledge of how they learn and are able to use the resources available to optimise their research and learning, not all have the skills to do this effectively (Dabbagh and Kitsantas 2011).

Today’s higher degree research student has the potential to use new technologies to:
• Alleviate the isolation of PhD studies by using social media to connect with students and colleagues (facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, Yammer);
• Facilitate synchronous and asynchronous collaboration through the use of shared virtual spaces (GoogleDocs, Dropbox, Wikis) and digital collaboration tools (Skype, Blackboard Collaborate, Google Hangouts, JoinMe, O3);
• Build a student’s professional identity (LinkedIn, ResearchGate, WordPress, YouTube);
• Act as a repository for resources to be stored and shared (Diigo, Delicious,, EndNote Web);
• Access online resources (Wikipedia, Scopus, Google Scholar);
• Manage research data (SPSS, NVivo, AMOS, MPlus, Strata, R); and
• Create a seamless learning space across changing learning contexts using cloud-based applications, accessible from a range of tethered and mobile devices.

The production of knowledge and the process of research are being radically transformed affecting the way in which many doctoral candidates undertake their research (Marsh, 2006). In the last three years, the prevalence of ultrabooks, notebooks, smartphones, tablets, electronic readers and iPods mean that students are able to access information anywhere and anytime. As noted by Engel, Palloff & Pratt (2011), higher education stands on the edge of a great precipice of change – change brought about by mobile technology.

Statistics from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (2012) reveal that, last year, 29% of doctoral students were over 39 years of age. This means that many PhD students did not grow up with the technologies they are utilising. They are not ‘digital natives’ (Prensky, 2011) but recognise the affordances of the technologies and enthusiastically embrace the opportunities they provide.

This digital poster will showcase the tools available to higher degree research students, and demonstrate how the act of researching is now more about ‘connecting and discerning’ than ever before. Throughout 2013, the authors will be conducting surveys and interviews with research higher degree students to determine what technologies they are using and how they are using them.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2013 Macquarie University, ascilite, and the authors of individual articles. Program and papers/posters at
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute (8 Dec 2010 - 6 Jul 2016)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute (8 Dec 2010 - 6 Jul 2016)
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2014 09:15
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2014 01:28
Uncontrolled Keywords: web 2.0, social media, Research and Higher Degrees, research training
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390405 Educational technology and computing
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930102 Learner and Learning Processes

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