Posted by: MandyS | June 27, 2013

What is Digital Scholarship and why does it matter?

Block 3, Week 18, Activity 1: Martin Weller (2011)

I found this an interesting read because I think it emulates how most of us have changed our practices as a direct result of the availability of technology.  ‘Weller summarises the key changes as:

  • digitisation of relevant content
  • online social networks
  • the range and variety of content via Twitter, blogs, news feeds and so on’.

Have your own practices, whether as a learner or as a digital scholar, changed as a result of the same three areas of impact of the internet?

Most definitely. When I first started studying for the MAODE I realised that to keep up, I had to go digital. This was relatively new to me having last studied 20 odd years ago when it was still pen and paper and trips to the library. Assignments are digitalised so I had to get to grips with typing and word processing; not that I wasn’t used to this from a professional perspective but the change had been much more gradual. Communication was via forums as opposed to popping down the pub. I was quite hesitant about this because a least if you say something wrong in the pub, chances are that no-one actually heard you or would just laugh it off. On the forum it is there for all to see! The potential is there for sharing but at the moment, it is not something I have really got to grips with.

‘Weller focuses on technology that is ‘fast, cheap and out of control’.

What does he mean by this?

Web 2.0 technology is freely, and readily, available, making it cheap and accessible to all.

Might it influence teaching and teachers in universities or colleges more directly than usage of a VLE?

I think how it might influence teaching and teachers is that it is another avenue which is not quite so stayed and limited as a VLE. Learner and teachers can choose how and when they use it and it provides much greater flexibility for study.

‘Weller comments on the indirect impact of digital scholarship in terms of the digital scholar being defined less by their institution and more by the networks they belong to and their online identity’.

Do you share this view? Are there any implications for learners arising from this weakening of the link between a teacher and their institutional base?

I think this links back to the ethos of learning being student centred. If this is what is envisaged then in reality, institutions are going to have to cut the apron strings and allow students to find their own niche for learning. If this weakens the link they have with tutors and institutions then so be it. At the end of the day, institutions are craving for students to stand on their own two feet and form communities to enhance their learning experience. I would argue that Web 2.0 is a means of facilitating that. The VLE will always serve a purpose but in some respects it also has the potential to constrain the student in letting go.

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