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Sheelagh Walton

Senior Lecturer in the School of Information Technology - PhD, Monash University

Email: sheelagh.walton@monash.edu

Tel: +27 11 950 4034

Qualifications
  • BSc(Maths) – 1977 University of Cape Town
  • HDE (Maths) – 1978 University of Cape Town
  • Java Certification – 1999 Sun MicroSystems
  • MIT – 2007 Monash University
Teaching Interests

Computer Programming; Social, Development and Community Informatics.

Prior to 2011 the School of IT at Monash South Africa was not offering any additional Short Courses to assist their students to become adequately equipped for the IT environment in industry. In light of this, in 2011 Sheelagh introduced a Summer School B programme on the Monash South Africa campus. For the past 5 years Sheelagh has successfully run Java programming courses and an Advanced Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) short course to equip the IT students with a more sound knowledge and the skills to facilitate their careers in the IT industry. Sheelagh is aware that continual improvements should be made to her teaching methods and innovations, which would then impact on the learning experiences of her students; which would then ensure that her students were fully equipped to make valid contributions to the IT industry, both locally and internationally.

Professional Awards
  • 1999 – Certified Java Programmer – Sun MicroSystems, USA
  • 2006 – Most Outstanding Woman in the Academic Field — Monash South Africa
  • 2008 – Monash University Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award
  • 2010 – Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
Publications
  • Digital Doorway: Social-Technical innovation for high-needs communities. Stillman, L., Herselman, M., Marais, M., Pitse-Boshomane, M., Plantinga, P., Walton, S. Publication of co-authored article in EJISDC International Journal (2012), 50, 2, 1-19. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with the South African Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Monash South Africa (MSA). 4th International Development Informatics Association Conference. Cape Town, South Africa. 3-5 Nov 2010. ISBN: 978-0-620-47590-7.
  • Young evangelists and ICT4D Diffusion: A Community Informatics study. Walton S. and Johanson G.  4th CIRN 2011 – “To measure or not to measure: that is the question”. Prato CIRN Community Informatics Conference, Monash Centre Prato, Italy.  9-11 Nov 2011.
  • Exploring the effectiveness of ICT classes on the lives of poor at-risk children. Walton S.; Maitland I.; Johanson G. 4th IDIA Conference, IDIA2010; Cape Town, South Africa. 3-5 Nov 2010. ISBN: 978-0-620-47590-7.
  • Not the path we planned: Data Collection Detours in a South African Community Informatics Study.Walton S and Backhouse J. 3rd CIRN 2010; Prato, Italy. 27–29 Oct 2010.
  • Measuring educational enhancement through informal computer literacy classes undertaken by ‘at risk’ children. Walton S. Unpublished article. Conference: IDIA2009 (3rd IDIA) – “Digitally Empowering Communities: Learning from Development Informatics Practice”. Berg-en-dal Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa. 28-30 Oct 2009.
  • Determining the Impacts of an Information and Communications Technology Intervention: Empowering Indigent Youths and their Community. PhD Thesis. Completed April 2014
Research interests

With reference to the pictures below, Sheelagh’s research interest focuses on empowering the local neighbouring indigent community (Zandspruit, outside Johannesburg) by introducing computer technology to its members. Her research, under the auspices of the Community Engagement Department at MSA, used an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) intervention to investigate the impact this initiative made on a small group of teenage Zandspruit learners. The ICT intervention strived to equip the high school teenagers with both the knowledge and self-confidence to share their computer skills with their community, thus acting as change-agents within their community, leading to the overall emergence of upliftment and empowerment. The instrument to effect this achievement was the socio-technical kiosk (the Digital Doorway) which was deployed in Zandspruit in 2010. This computer kiosk, at the time, provided free community access to computer and internet technology.

Direction of horizontal diffusion process

Sheelagh believes that if young people are nurtured and taught in a peer-led educational environment, they develop the cognitive ability to share their learning and to teach others with minimal external intervention. Sheelagh’s research seeks to discover the extent of the impact that ICT will make at both an individual level, and to determine whether sharing and teaching will extend to a wider audience. With the assistance of Monash students (see photographs), acting as peer tutor-mentors, Sheelagh found that the existing models of ICT innovation and intervention assume a degree of personal self-sufficiency and a sense of agency that were not evident in the Zandspruit context. Her research’s emergent conceptual model emphasises the need for mediation in order to develop a sense of agency. Teaching and learning and their respective impacts are current issues which, if done effectively, will always address a learner’s best interest and wellbeing. As an academic her research in teaching, learning and making use of ICT continually strives for better ways to educate the youth in this field.

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