Online with Atlas.ti and Qualitative Research
Dr Tim Pittaway captures the mood while post-grad participants are boarding Teams for our research workshop. The two screens are active, the reserve batteries are ready should the power go off, and everything is double-checked to be functioning… We will be online for many hours… But will we keep our invisible participants interested from start to finish? A tall order! And how tall is the order to be the student on the receiving end! ‘Imagine,’ I said to Tim, ‘we were among the 2022 post-grad students… Then we would have been studying online for over two years and not have set foot on campus. Missing those stress-release coffee sessions, venting about incomprehensible lectures and unfair deadlines! And now student life ends with a solitary research journey!’ Even the assistance that researchers are looking for is online!
In the course of the morning there had been a case in point of a student who was not coping and reaching out for help.
He had ‘unmuted’ and began to unpack his research problems. Connectivity was bad and we strained to hear him. He said he was calling from Lagos. We had to advise him to rather send us an email. But the email did not come. What can be verbally explained does not always flow easily in a written version.
In our ‘pre-lockdown’ peer group activities, this student’s research problems would have been used as a demo case, enlightening the matter. Exposure to each other’s research projects, across all disciplines, always provided a focal point of interest. Nelson Mandela University’s post-grads include students from other African and overseas countries. The participant mix guaranteed spicy arguments and interpretations with great cultural variety! Those opportunities are academic endeavour at its best.
Research can be a long, lonely journey – and being able to interact with your peers really makes a significant difference. With the good news that on-campus classes are resuming let’s hope that these dynamic ‘live’ opportunities will soon open up for post-grads again.