LEARNERS at Curro Heritage House in Morningside, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, are getting used to having a doctor in the classroom, after their teacher Caitlin Sam, graduated with a PhD in Information Technology from Durban University of Technology (DUT) last month.
Proving that is possible to be both a teacher and a learner, the 34-year-old mathematics teacher and academic head embarked on her studies in 2020 during the hard lockdown.
Not wanting her personal goals to come at the detriment of her learners, Dr. Sam made the brave choice to continue teaching whilst studying, and in doing so sacrificed her personal free time and plenty of sleep.
It has all been worth it though, especially as she was able to use her ten years of teaching experience to form the basis of her thesis, which investigated how the use of social computing in school-based learning could help benefit learners.
She now hopes the findings can be used to inform the way South African learners are taught in the future.
“During the lockdown, I realised that so many South African learners were unable to access uncapped Wi-Fi and were relying on costly data to connect to their Learning Management System. I really want to change this, so I used my thesis to establish if using social computing platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube can help remote teach learners, with Data Mining, Intelligent Decision Support Systems and Artificial Intelligence as tools,” explains Dr Sam.
As a Bachelor of Science Honours, Post Graduate Certificate in Education, and Masters in Business Administration graduate, Dr Sam prides herself in lifelong learning and has always been passionate about mathematics, artificial intelligence, and information technology.
As well as being a great role model to her learners, she is now looking forward to putting her newly acquired qualification to good use at Curro, leading learners into a rapidly changing digital era.
“We are incredibly proud of Dr Sam’s fantastic achievement. At Curro, we are always looking for ways to inspire and motivate our learners and Dr Sam is a shining example of what can be achieved if you are passionate, work hard and stay focussed. We especially appreciate her dedication to her learners during this challenging time. Her commitment and sacrifice is something everyone at our school can aspire to,” said Arthee Rajkumar, Executive Head at Curro Heritage House.
Dr. Caitlin Sam’s full thesis can be found here: Intelligent decision support systems for managing the diffusion of social computing in school-based ubiquitous learning | DUT Open Scholar.