Today I submitted my PhD thesis for examination. The accomplishment won’t sink in until a few more days, but I feel good about it nontheless. It has taken me close to 4 years to complete, which breaks down to about three and a half years of research and development, plus six months of thesis writing. I have produced a thesis dissertation, two journal papers, a book chapter, six conference papers, and several thousand lines of code.
The thesis dissertation marks the end of a long and eventful journey for which there are many people that I would like to acknowledge for their support along the way. Above all I would like to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices that my parents made to ensure that I had an excellent education. For this and much more, I am forever in their debt. It is to them that I dedicate this dissertation.
I am indebted to Rafael Calvo, my supervisor, for guidance on this research topic, and on research and life in general. Thank you also for ensuring my continuous funding for the first three years of my studies. I am also grateful to Lina Markauskaite from the CoCo Lab at the Faculty of Education for providing sage advice on the design and analysis of the survey-based questionnaires used to collect data for this dissertation. Thank you both.
I am very grateful to Ron Johnston and John Currie for allowing me to trial Dotfolio within their course ENGG1803 Professional Practice. Without their support I would not have had the opportunity to evaluate my software within the largest engineering course at the University of Sydney. Thank you to all the students in ENGG1803 who voluntarily and anonymously evaluated the software.
This research also benefited tremendously from the many friends at the University of Sydney. Special thanks to Juan Jos’e Garcia Adeva, Ernie Ghiglione, David Peterson, Adam Ullman, Saul Carroll, Mark Gordon, and Cibby Pulikkaseril for countless hours spent discussing fruitful ideas over cups of coffee at the campus caf’e and schooners of beer at the Rose. Thanks also goes to Aiman Turani, Daniel Zhang, Sabrina Zhang, and Sergio Freschi from the Web Engineering Group (WEG) for contributing valuable ideas and discussion in our WEG meetings.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank the entire OpenACS developer community. Their feedback and advice has been instrumental in shaping the software for this project.
Finally, I would like to thank my partner Kim Tran for her endless love and encouragement throughout this entire journey. Without whom I would have struggled to find the inspiration and motivation needed to complete this dissertation.