This particular module provides a closer understanding of what is core to Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation,that of ‘being a ‘digital scholar’. The main reference is Martin Weller, author of The Digital Scholar, who works at Open University and is an ‘open access’ advocate. Weller’s focus (2011, p.44) is looking at the “practice of scholars, particularly how they communicate, the types of outputs they produce and the networks they operate within”. It is the intersection of being open, networked and digital that leads to transformative practice. What does technology and new digital practices mean for scholarship? Weller reflects on this in both the video and the recommended chapters of his book (Chapter 4 & 8). Just within these resources, Weller reveals how digital technologies are changing all facets of scholarship. If I was to make a personal connection, I only need to compare my first degree undertaken (awarded in 1981) and subsequent post graduate studies to see the changes, to where I am now with MofEdKNDI, interacting in an online participatory globally networked environment.
In both the video and chapter 4, Weller references the work of Boyer (1990) and his 4 components: discovery, integration, application and teaching (pp.42-43).
Discovery: The combination of the global network and sharing of data is “really beginning to alter research practice” (p.45). Data sets are becoming part of scholarly communication especially with the increasing provision of open access. Weller (p. 45) notes that this “encourages meta-analysis” whereby data (and information) can be used across multiple projects, and “in contexts that the original users would not have envisaged” or allowing for multiple authors to work on the original project (as is seen in the Peeragogy handbook, which is a collaborative and participatory ongoing project).
Weller discusses how combination applies to the second component of integration. This follows on from meta-analysis, when “open data allow researchers to combine data from different fields to produce new insights” in different formats (p.46) and also apply the data to wider problems. Moreover, “the global, social network allows everybody (not just scholars) to…connect with those with similar interests” (p. 47) whether this be through blogging, online forums or social networks. Weller discusses the issues involved with the traditional journal publication process (and its inherent conservatism) and the associated “peer-review processes which have also begun to be adapted” to meet the changes in technologies and access; as well as the issue of restricting access of knowledge as a result.
Weller continues to look at how academics are adopting and applying (application) new communication technologies, including podcasts (e.g. YouTube channels and Twitter etc) to disseminate information and reach a wider audience. All of the above sharing of data and information and use of digital technologies has immediate impact on teaching, such as with Open Education Resources (OER). The teacher and lecturer are “no longer considered the sole source of knowledge”.
As such, as Weller explains (in the video below), digital scholarship is all about:
- knowledge sharing
- knowledge creation
- generating ideas – and getting feedback quickly
- democratisation of learning
Digital or open scholars have, as a result of the above criteria (2011):
- a distributed online identity
- a central place for their identity
- cultivated an online network of peers
- developed a personal learning environment from a range of tools – often by trial and error
- engage with open publishing
- create a range of informal outputs
- try new technologies
- mix personal and professional outputs – continuum between
- use new technologies to support teaching and research
- automatically create and share outputs
Within the video, Weller shares 5 “lessons”:
- Accept that there is something relevant to you
- Resolve the tension between existing and new practice (what are the things we really value, and how they are best achieved with new digital tools e.g. publishing process; sharing content more widely; how we engage with new technologies)
- Use the network to enhance engagement and dissemination – How we disseminate information? We become the broadcasters! open access.
low cost or free, open, high reuse potential, different distribution, no compromise
leads to skills development: video, networks, data visualization, analytics, curation/filtering (references Stephen Downes), writing for online (very different from writing for academic), liveblogging (Doug Clow)
- There are new research possibilities. Just do it! use open data (guerrilla research)….which is the manifesto (see below):
It can be done by one or two researchers and does not require a team; relies on existing open data, information and tools; is fairly quick to realise; is disseminated via blogs and social media and doesn’t require permission
e.g. start your own online journal, invent an app today, interrogate data today to connect you with others. have an idea, do research. blog it. not all outputs need to be one size.
5. Embrace unpredictability. open practice can engage, risk averse, what potential risks are, explore new possibilities for research. we are not so good at seeing the benefits, yet it can lead to unexpected outcomes. innovation is possible. new research impact e.g. social media; new connections.
- Weller advocates that we cultivate the online identity carefully
Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut4boLiWLHM&feature=youtu.be
Weller concludes chapter 4 by referencing Burton (2009):
The open scholar
“is someone who makes their intellectual projects and processes digitally visible and who invites and encourages ongoing criticism of their work and secondary uses of any or all parts of it – at any stage of its development” (p.51).
Chapter 8 looks at the economics of abundance and scarcity in relation to content, which ties in with the issue of access and digital rights management (DRM) which encodes legislation and economic and other restrictions on the user e.g. iTunes, and includes paywalls and subscription models. An immediate example that is brought to mind within a personal professional context, is the database subscriptions such as Ebscohost, World Book etc that our library subscribes to on one hand and Wikipedia on the other. Interestingly, our tech integration teacher has recently carried out an audit to track ‘who is using what’ in relation to ipad apps (we are a 1:1 ipad in the elementary school), and the use of those ‘paid’ compared to ‘free/open share’ apps.
I also agree with Weller, that social networks have made ‘experts’ and thought-leaders more approachable and ‘accessible’ (p.88) while also allowing connections to be made with others with similar (or even conflicting) interests. I also concur with his question of “whether we have developed the appropriate teaching and learning approaches to make best use of it? What would a a pedagogy of abundance look like?” (p.88). This pedagogy of abundance was evident in the second colloquium discussion which was led by Pip Cleaves who shared her school’s digital journey and in particular, her teaching and learning approaches.
Weller reflects too on how elearning “has seen an exploration of new pedagogies or at least a shift in emphasis onto different ones” (p. 88) and quotes George Siemens (2008) argument that “learning theories such as constructivism, social constructivism and …connectivism, form the theoretical shift from instructor or institution controlled teaching to one of greater control by the learner” (p.88). I can see this shift happening in higher education, but am sceptical that it has filtered down, apart from pockets, to elementary and secondary education. Certainly, access to digital tools and technologies emphasize the participatory, collective and the network (Conole, 2008, Seely Brown & Adler, 2008 in Weller, 2011, p.89-90). Yet 8 years later, I still think Conole’s statement (as referenced by Weller) stands:
“Despite [the emphasis on social and situated nature of learning]…the impact of Web 2.0 on education has been less dramatic than its impact on other spheres of society…” (p.89).
Perhaps because while new tools and technologies come along, many teachers are still teaching to a behaviourist theory model taught during teaching college days? Unless educators are explicitly introduced to the new pedagogies, as theory aligning with practice, perhaps they will continue to use the technology with their same way of teaching? Often, digital tools and devices are introduced into institutions with little forethought or consultation about ‘how they will or could be used’.
“Tools such as blogs, wikis, social networks, tagging systems, mashups, and content-sharing sites are examples of a new user-centric information infrastructure that emphasizes participation (e.g. creating, re-mixing) over presentation, that encourages focused conversation and short briefs (often written in a less technical, public vernacular) rather than traditional publication, and that facilitates innovative explorations, experimentation, and purposeful tinkerings that often form the basis of a situated understanding emerging from action, not passivity”(p. 90).
Weller notes how resource-based learning (RBL) and problem-based learning (PBL) can address this as models for ‘a pedagogy of abundance’. He also mentions Communities of Practice with the social role of learning and the importance of apprenticeship.
This module has continued the discussion introduced with our first colloquium on learning analytics. Thinking about data and (the abundance of) content and how it is shared and accessed. When considering my own professional practice, I certainly use data (from the library management system, and informal data such as ‘lunchtime numbers’) and share it with my school community with the creation of the library annual report. However, I do need to consider other uses of the data, when and how to share it more often. Also, I need to look more closely at my own blog analytics.
Another personal issue arising from my readings, is that I also need to be more proactive with sharing academic work that has resulted from this Master’s study and previous post graduate studies. While my extended network has broadened with Twitter conversations, and within the participatory learning of my coursework, I see it as an informal sharing with me receiving greater input than sending output. I am already thinking of how I can share assignment articles online through such mediums as Academia or ResearchGate. I need to continually reflect on how I am cultivating and extending myself as a digital scholar!
Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black.Available under Creative Commons through Bloomsbury Open Access, as well as print and Kindle:
Weller, M. (2011). “The nature of scholarship”. The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black. Chapter 4: The Nature of Scholarship, pp.41-51.
Weller, M. (2011). “A pedagogy of abundance”. The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black. Chapter 8: A Pedagogy of Abundance, pp.85-95