Understanding the Digital Lives of Transnational Students: A Case Study

Chowaing Chagra Belekeh, University of Texas at El Paso


The proliferation and the fast-paced evolution of digital information communication technologies (ICTs) in contemporary times have arguably raised concern for us to comprehend what we do with these technologies and what these technologies do for us. The experience of engaging these technologies may not necessarily be the same for everyone—especially students who come from around the world to attain post-graduate degrees in the United States. This research focused on understanding the digital lives, choices, and experiences of transnational students who navigate and negotiate geopolitical borders and boundaries (physical)– in their quest for education. Using a case study analysis and collecting data through a survey and a series of interviews, this interpretive empirical study made use of Actor-Network Theory (ANT). Specifically, I invoked Liza Pott’s ANT mapping model, which she used as a way to further the interpretation and usage of the ANT model as a methodology and method of analyzing and understanding people’s interaction and encounters with information communication technologies. Research Findings revealed that transnational students often used technologies that had a broad and far reach by users in both their countries of studies and their home countries. Also, transnational students preferred to use technologies that were user-centered design, and that did not have features and functions that distracted the users. The research emphasized that the design of technologies should place students, teachers, and academic professionals as primary users with interfaces, browsers, and other design features. Training, a core part in engaging technologies, should be implemented as a way to improve the use of technologies– It should be user-specific and based on an identified gap to improve the use and productivity. It is not solely the responsibility of either the industry or academy to ensure that transnational students integrate and navigate their new communities using ICTs. It should be a joint and collaborative initiative to meet and match the needs of these groups of students with the use of technologies..

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Information Technology

Recommended Citation

Belekeh, Chowaing Chagra, "Understanding the Digital Lives of Transnational Students: A Case Study" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27999119.