Introducing: The Digital Scholar

Word Cloud from the digital scholar book;
Word Cloud from the digital scholar book;
“The Digital Scholar” flickr photo by AJC1 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

We’d like to invite you to join with us in working through an Open Learn course,  The Digital Scholar.

The course is developed by Martin Weller – and closely related to his book of the same name – the book is also available online as open access (click the cover below for access)

Cover of the book - the digital scholar
The Digital Scholar

In order to participate, you could just go to the course and read the posts, watch the videos, do the activities; however, we’d like to invite you to:

  • Register – that way you’ll be able to track your progress, and even gain a digital badge.
  • Participate in the discussions we’ll be starting on the Learning X part of the CTIL website.
  • Join us in a face to face session (date TBC)

Week 1: Entering the digital world.

Cubes, with various social media icons on them - Facebook, pinterest, twitter, snapchat, rss etc

Welcome to the Digital Scholar.

Cubes, with various social media icons on them - Facebook, pinterest, twitter, snapchat, rss etc
“Social Media Mix 3D Icons – Mix #2” flickr photo by Visual Content shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

You’ve hopefully had a look at the activities for week 1, and have begun to think about your own practice. We’d like to invite you to share your thoughts on the activities this week. There are a number of ways you may want to share, whether  you want to record with a tool you’re already using, try a new tool, or simply share the link to your profile on Open Learn, and comment here.

If you want to start to create your own online space, in the Introduction to Learning X, there are some tips for starting to use blogs, twitter etc., (just go to and click ‘more’).


Week 2: Discovery

Social Media Icons on Mobile Device

Social Media Icons on Mobile Device

This week, the course focuses on the Discovery part of Boyer’s model. As well as the introduction of various social media tools, which you may already be usin, gthe idea of Guerrilla research is introduced. While it was originally used in web development, Weller argues that it can often apply to academic research.

How do you feel that it fits in with your approach to research, both your personal approach, and the way your subject area works generally? If you have started to think about the question posed at the end of section 2, and you’d like to share it with others, please share either the URL of where you have posted it, or just share your ideas in the comments.

Week 3: Interdisciplinarity.

connected people.
connected people.
Connected individuals. Shared as CC0 from Pixabay

In the Digital Scholar this week, Weller looks at interdisciplinarity. While looking for additional resources for this  post, I came across the concept of transdisciplinarity.

IN the course, blogs and twitter are looked at in detail, do you feel these tools help you build up relationships with those in other disciplines – whether in Dundee or further afield. Or do you have other preferences – whether those are digital tools, or a more traditional approach? Do you think that you’re taking a interdisciplinary approach or a transdisciplinary one?

For students, we have the Global Health Challenge getting students to work together at Dundee.  Do you run any activities with students from other disciplines? How well do you feel these fit into the curriculum? Can you see ways we could further enhance interdisciplinarity between students?

Week 4: Dissemination.

A baby iguana, with a very long tail

A baby iguana, with a very long tail
Downloaded from

This week, the Digital Scholar looks at a key aspect of scholarship, dissemination. Weller starts off considering the “long tail” – initially looking at how that can lead to opportunities in personal life – though the example given of online music sales vs. high street music shops is largely now a difference that doesn’t exist, due to the changing nature of the music market. It is, however, still recent enough that most readers should relate to the example.

He then moves to scholarship, and how we might disseminate it. In a similar vein to previous weeks, the focus is on collaborative “Web 2.0” (S0cial Media) approaches to dissemination. Some of these are similar to those that were noted as being a way to engage with other researchers (such as blogging), while others look more at tools that are more aimed at distribution, such as YouTube.

At the end of this week’s exercises is the first of the formal tests – one that counts towards the final badge. Don’t worry, you can have more than one go if you need to!

Week 5: Teaching and Digital Scholarship

A professor on a laptop screen
A professor on a laptop screen
Source: Bluefieldphotos

At the start of week 5, we look at the concept of abundance vs. scarcity of resources – how does that link to teaching?  While Weller doesn’t dwell on it, it’s clear that we have moved from a situation of a relatively limited set of resources that students could have access to (a few books in the library, a few more if you can track them down), to today, when students have access to a vast range of materials; some of which are more useful than others. In order to make use of them, we have to look at newer approaches to teaching. He covers a range of approaches, not all explicitly requiring technology to support them, but rather they’re approaches that can enable staff / students to make good use of that wealth of information.

He covers:

  • constructivism
  • connectivism
  • problem based learning
  • resource based learning
  • Communities of practice.
  • MOOCs

Do you feel that you have used any of these approaches in your teaching?

Do you have any other comments about this week’s activities?

Week 6: Reward and Tenure.

Someone climbing the stair, while thiinking.
Someone climbing the stair, while thiinking.
I know, I’ll tweet about my book!

This week, Weller looks as aspects that are critical to many academics – how digital scholarship can be recognised, both within an institution, and externally. He refers to guidelines that other institutions have developed, several of which have been listed by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.

He presents the case for using the online to support the traditional, and using it for ‘micro credit’.

How much do you find you use the digital to support the traditional in your research – does it tie in as well as the examples Weller gives?

Week 7: The downsides of Digital Scholarship.


By Frettie (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This week, Weller moves into the areas that often ignite passions in academics (and others!) Is Digital ultimately going to destroy society, or to save it.
Weller aims to present a balance – like all things, few are inherently “good” or “bad”. He acknowledges that his views have changed over the years (as indeed, have mine). While some of the points that are seen as “bad” (such as Carr’s views on the increasing superficiality of learning), Weller points out they can also been  can be looked in terms of “does it matter”? I was reading an article shared on Storify today, that makes a similar point about new content (see myth 2)- it’s hard to concentrate on unfamiliar stuff – and that’s not a new phenomena – it’s a human trait!

Some of the points Weller raises are much more complex – such as whether or not our brains are altered (in a greater way than they normally are as we learn to adapt to new things).

I can see lots of debate arising from this week! I look forward to reading others’ ideas.

Week 8: Changes.

Flowering plants growing on a wall.

It’s the last week of the Digital Scholar – in which Weller looks at the changes that moving to a digital scholarship model can bring to the individual or institution – and how we can plan for the implementation. One aspect they look at is digital resilience – which is very similar to other aspects of resilience. It would be interesting to look at Walker’s 4 aspects of resilience, and see where we feel that Dundee would sit – would it be nearer the 35 [very comfortable with change], or nearer the 15 [a considerable threat from such changes]. He notes that these scores are subjective – this is something that it’s not possible to measure.

Flowering plants growing on a wall.
Flickr photo by Emmadukew shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

At the end of the section is the final quiz – this is one that is counts towards your final score – and, a digital badge!

A digital badge
My Digital Badge!

Rubrics Workshop.

When we first came up with the idea of Learning X, we hoped to be able to involve other staff, both for the blog based seasons, but also for the idea of Learning X Live, the series of face to face sessions held in the Strawberry Bank Ideas lab. We have had a number of locally arranged sessions (such as one looking at visitors and residents ). This session was, however, the first when we had presenters from the rest of the University.

Susie Schofield, from the Medical School, and Jenny Woof from Biomedial Sciences joined with us to look at the benefits for both markers and students when staff use rubrics to help them with the marking. Susie outlined the benefits of rubrics generally, while Jenny looked at her experiences of working with a large team of markers, using rubrics.

The presentation is available to Dundee staff via Office 365.

Groups discussing rubrics
Groups discussing rubrics

In groups, staff then started to look at the different ways that they are using rubrics already in their disciplines – or how they might apply them. To help with the discussions, we made available examples of rubrics  and generic criteria from Dundee and other Universities. (Examples in Box – Dundee staff only).  We had staff from most schools in the University –  Medical School, DJCAD, Humanities and more, this lead to lively discussions, clearly there are some expectations in student performance that differ greatly across the university, but there are others that all expect their students to be able to do as graduates.

Staff looking at a shared screen.
Looking at different criteria.


From my point of view, I felt that the session went very well; and the comments invited from staff seemed to show that they also found it beneficial  (see the last few slides on the presentation).

If you have any ideas for other sessions you’d like to see as part of the Learning X series, please let us know.