PhD research looks at academics’ preferences in using mobile computing applications

by Thembeka Manetje

4 November 2022

A lecturer’s curiosity about academics’ preferences in using mobile computing applications, linked to his desire to be recognized as a seasoned ICT academic, inspired Dr Alfred Thaga Kgopa, senior lecturer and section head at the Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Information and Communication Technology, to complete his PhD. Dr Kgopa obtained a Doctor of Computing during TUT’s recent Spring graduation ceremonies.

Dr Etienne van Wyk awarding a PhD on Dr Alfred Kgopa during recent graduation ceremonies at the Soshanguve South Campus.

According to an article published on ITWeb earlier in 2022, South Africa currently faces a massive shortage of ICT skills with a and as a result, the country lacks at least 70 000 ICT professionals. The results from Dr Kgopa’s PhD research, could significantly contribute to addressing the current shortage of skills needed in the South African ICT sphere, through delivering students who are ready for the future in this field. 

His study focused specifically on the use of mobile computing applications from a South African perspective. During his research, he investigated the adaptability of a model aimed at gaining an understanding why South African academics are continuously switching between the use of various mobile computing applications, known as Apps. 

He explained why research on this particular topic was significant to him. “When I started my study, there were no similar studies on academics’ concurrent switching and continued user behaviour of mobile computing applications. Although mobile computing applications have become increasingly available, the switching and continued usage habits, were not well addressed in literature. The academic culture is generally favourable for this kind of research, since academics are perceived to be well-educated, thus they can make independent judgments about their computing application choices. Their behaviour of choice may differ, based on critical factors that influence the decision to continue using various mobile computing applications. Introducing university mandated mobile applications might lead to potential conflicts with the culture and norms of academics’ personal choices.  Therefore, it was vital to learn more about their behavioural choices of switching and continued use of mobile applications, especially when it comes to predicting their future behaviour,” said Dr Kgopa.

He continued to explain that the most valuable contribution of his study, was the discovery of a theoretical model that could provide guidelines to the academic society and application developers regarding academics’ behaviour in the switching and continued use of mobile computing applications. In addition, his study managed to triangulate three models from other previous studies to conceptualise a new model that tested both switching and continued use, from the unique population of academics.  

Dr Kgopa is a firm believer of the power of manifestation, unified with hard work. “If you tell yourself, I am going to be a doctor or a Professor one day, you must work hard towards that goal because you manifest what you believe. Set big goals for yourself, then make a self-fulfilling prophecy about those goals. Success is directly correlated with the work you put in to achieve your objectives,” he said.His passion for academia is noticeable through various achievements during his professional journey, which include:

  • Obtaining position two in the ICT EXPO held across three TUT campuses in 2005 (Technikon North West, Technikon Pretoria and Technikon northern Transvaal). 
  • Being awarded the best paper award when he presented his Master’s paper at an international conference in 2013. 
  • Supervising several Master’s students, a number of whom have already completed their studies.
  • Publishing five papers in journals and at conferences. Three more papers have been accepted to be presented at international conferences.

In conclusion Dr Kgopa reflected on his childhood, sharing information about his schooling background before enrolling at TUT. “I was born and raised in Mathibestad, in Bojanala district, North West province. I attended Mahobohle Primary school, Sempapa middle school and Mogatlampe high school. After matriculating I enrolled at TUT,” he concluded.

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