With a background in both information technology and education, Godwin Dzvapatsva is interested in how technology can be used to help students.
Working towards a PhD in information systems, Godwin is also employed as a college lecturer. His research is geared towards assisting students through some of the challenges they face, primarily how to catch up on the curriculum after time has been lost in the classroom during the year.
Time can be lost for a variety of reasons, from illness and staff meetings to protest action and transport problems. Godwin’s research is investigating ways to use what's app to help students catch up on vital information they may have missed.
“There is no proper recording of the time that is lost and how to recover that time,” says Godwin. “Most of the time the timetables are rigid and there are no other free periods that you can make use of.” Catching up over weekends is not always feasible either.
“The good thing with these platforms is that even if students don’t participate, they can always go through the threads that have been discussed and use it as additional material which they might not have access to.”
This is not without its challenges and it has needed cooperation from both lecturers and students. Lecturers, inundated with admin work, have their own time constraints as well as concerns about privacy, while many students struggle with day-to-day data costs.
An initial survey showed that almost all students had access to a smart phone, even if they do not bring them to college every day, and this has facilitated use of the research platform.
Before completing his honour’s and master’s degrees in information management through the University of the Western Cape, Godwin studied information technology and education in Zimbabwe, where he taught for two years, so he has a strong background in both IT and education.
So far, the results from his research look encouraging. The students have performed well in comparison with past years and appear more motivated. “Students need a lot of support,” says Godwin, who clearly believes in using technology to provide this support, and ease very real social problems.
School of Information Technology
Skool vir Inligtingstegnologie