Having read through some other students blogs to see their interpretive discussion posted, I thought that i would follow suite. I found this a very interesting task and was reasonably pleased with the result.
Digital Scholarship – only a tweet away.
Social networking tools, like Twitter, are beginning to demonstrate
their potential as powerful communication and collaboration tools
in social, political, and educational arenas.
(Corbeil, J.R. & Corbeil, M.E., 2015, p. 13)
Scholarly works and scholarship have been a significant part of the education and the academic world for thousands of years. Until the dawn of the printing press they were the domain of princes and monks as they were the only people with ready access to the printed material. Then, with the dawn of the age of the printing press, scholarship in a printed form was much more widely available, and even affordable, to the masses who had the ability to read it. Now, in the digital, internet and Web 2.0 age, is digital scholarship only a tweet away on my mobile device as I travel to and from my work place or as I sit in my lecture or classroom? (Veletsianos and Kimmons, 2012, p.768)
Yesteryear – analogue scholarship?
Scholarship has permeated the world for many thousands of years. Once, in the sanctity of a monastery or a palace, it is now in the realm of people in the mainstream and is more readily available for those needing or wanting access. But what is scholarship? Scholarship is what scholars do with Weller (2011) defining a scholar as “a learned person or a specialist in a given branch of knowledge” (p.4). Analogue scholarship today may well have been created on a computer along with sources discovered utilising a web browser with the end product possibly being available online in a restricted, pay for download environment. Is this a contemporary view of scholarship though and does it meet the needs of today’s students and scholars alike?
Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes describe, “traditional notions of acceptable scholarship in education and in most other fields depend on rigorous, often blind peer review in high-ranking and typically closed-access journals.” (2009, p.281). The difficulty with traditional or analogue scholarship though, a phrase coined by Weller (2012, p.348), as Rheingold goes on to say is that, “for example, if we were speaking, we could communicate only with the people who could hear us directly.” (2010, p22). Analogue scholarship uses important networks of, usually trusted, peers to share ideas with, to collaborate with on projects as well as reviewing papers, discuss ideas and to get feedback from (Weller, 2011, p.4). But do we only want the select few to share their ideas with each other or to have ready access to scholarly works or is it preferable that larger numbers of individuals, or even vast networks of people, have access to scholarly works anywhere, anytime – even possibly contribute to their creation?
Emerging possibilities for digital scholarship
If yesteryear scholarship can be called analogue, then the scholarship of today, and going forward to tomorrow, can be identified as digital scholarship. Weller (2012, p.348) identified that there needs to be a convergence of a trilogy of aspects for significant change to come about in the domain of digital scholarship:
- Digital content;
- With a global network; and
- Open approaches.
At the moment, there are examples of digital scholarship that are utilising the first and second aspects as described by Weller above. But the time for change in scholarship and full acceptance of digital scholarship practices as described by Weller (2012) are needed. Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012) are consciously aware that, “just as societies, governments, and other social groups adapt and change over time, so too do universities, the work that they do, and how they do that work (p766).” Added to this, they continue, is the awareness that, “our understanding of scholarship has been in a state of transformation in recent years” (p770). But how wide spread is this transformation and what impact is it having on scholarship? Veletsianos and Kimmons have identified that with the advent of the internet, Web 2.0 and the digitised world that scholarship is being digitised and being embodied into practices but it is far from being a dominant aspect of academic culture (2012, p.770). What is promising though is that there is change afoot and that scholarly works are not only becoming digitised in the way they look and the way they are shared or distributed but also in the way that they are constructed even if, “there is still a cultural and institutional change required in order to make these changes open and networked” (Weller, 2011, p. 81). Sadly though, in many instances and institutions, analogue practices do not change because they are the standard practice for scholarship and a way of easily rewarding scholarship and maintaining tenure and prestige within the institution and broader academic community (Weller, 2012).
Those scholars who are more comfortable in the digital environment are aware that the health of their field of endeavour and scholarship is dependent upon digital competencies (Zorich, 2012, p.19). Further, those who are experimenting with digital potential in the participatory, Web 2.0 social media world “are considering how digital scholarship might open up new areas of enquiry” (Zorich, 2012, p.19). These scholars see that scholarship in the digital world can be represented by:
- Building a digital collection of information for further study and analysis;
- Creating appropriate tools for collection-building;
- Creating appropriate tools for the analysis and study of collections;
- Using digital collections and analytical tools to generate new intellectual products;
- Creating authoring tools for these new intellectual products, either in traditional form or in digital form (Weller, 2012, p348)
As part of building onto the digital scholarship of works Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012, p.767) excite many with the view that, “…technological changes are going to flood how we currently think about, do, and represent research” – something that many scholars are already aware of and utilising. They go on to suggest that scholars, “utilize participatory technologies and online social networks for scholarly purposes” (2011, p.767), however, whilst remembering that technology is not necessarily the be all and end all, it is “playing a significant role in how people are communicating, working, constructing knowledge and socialising” (Weller, 2011, p. 11) and it is with this in mind that I will focus on how Twitter can be utilised to support and grow digital scholarship for scholars today and those who will be the scholars of tomorrow. The 2015 New Horizons report (K-12 edition) suggests that one of the key trends accelerating technology adoption in K-12 education in the mid-term (three to five years) is:
- An Increasing Use of Collaborative Learning Approaches; and
- A Shift from Students as Consumers to Creators.
This in itself provides more impetus for a change in scholarship methods to those that embrace participatory, digital scholarship practices.
Twitter – the ability to tweet digital scholarship to, and with, the masses
“As a free Web 2.0 application, Twitter has become a popular microblogging tool and social networking website (Kassens-Noo, 2012 p.10). Using a computer, smart phone or tablet device, users communicate by exchanging quick, frequent and short messages of up to 140 characters in length (Kassens-Noo, 2012 p.10) whilst also having the ability to post images as well as links to video files, longer and more expansive texts or blogs as well as websites. The Twitter company website shares the following statistics about the application:
- 316 million, monthly users;
- 500 million tweets/day;
- 80% of users are active on a mobile device; and
- More than 35 languages are supported.
What these figures indicate is that there is potentially a significant impact to be realised in the use of Web 2.0-type output (Weller, 2011) applications like Twitter.
Zorich shares that Web 2.0 applications like Twitter are “increasingly being used as a means of scholarly communication” (2012, p.48) inviting a multitude of perspectives and is also supported by Veletsianos and Kimmons with scholars who “utilize participatory technologies and online social networks for scholarly purposes” (2012, p.767). Weller (2011, p. 78) had difficulty precisely stating why people contribute to scholarly works in participatory networks through social media like Twitter, but suggested that some reasons could be:
||How this looks on Twitter
|A social connection with the owner of the page.
||Follow a colleague or known scholar.
|Interest in the subject being discussed/shared.
||Search and/or follow a # (hashtag) category, #inf537 for example.
|The interest and enthusiasm of engaging with the community involved in the subject being discussed/shared.
||Follow an institution or group.
|Their own ego.
||Create your own presence on Twitter, follow others and be followed.
The other affordances that Twitter as a social, participatory form of scholarship offer the user is the different types of scholarly data output that can all be collaborated on and disseminated through Twitter. Data, research papers, software code as well as lecture/teaching content can all be stored and shared through Twitter using shortened URLs or hyperlinked for others to access later. Ideas/proposals along with debates/seminars and debates/discussions can all be disseminated directly through the Twitter application in real time as a post with a # hashtag so others can follow the category. Feedback is able to be given in real time, or at a later date, with the author being notified when such has been tweeted. In fact, as Weller identifies “via digital networked means, they (the outputs) become a shareable artefact” (2011, p.79) that can be searched for and retrieved later. Tweeting about artefacts like those noted could actually be seen as a by-product of academic activity just like taking notes (Weller, 2011, p.81) which means that the resultant change is an output being produced that is shareable. As these artefacts are shared, discussed and added to, “the work of both scholarship and practice progresses as a consequence of dialogue, debate and exchange” (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009, p.280). Coleman (2013, p.60) describes this as Twitter “empowering individuals to share their voice in a media-centric model” and that Twitter is “one of the most informative resources available with regard to what’s going on locally, national and globally in modern day culture.” Social media, like Twitter, allows all users to communicate and collaborate in ways that disregard institutional, and for that fact national, boundaries.
Twitter is a valid form of digital scholarship because, as a Web 2.0 technology, it supports dissemination, adaptations and conversations about individual scholarship (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009, p.246). In this manner, Twitter allows, in fact encourages, ‘openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing and transparent revision’ (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009, p.53) that can continually be interacted with by the original author and others collaborating in real time or later on. In fact, Twitter as a Web 2.0 application allows academics to reflect on and reimagine what they do as scholars whilst by inviting multiple perspectives into the shaping of the scholarly work crucial advancements emerge when disciplinary scholars reach in to the knowledge corpus outside their own (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009, p.282).
Web 2.0 applications like Twitter, as Dede (2009, p.260) states, enhance the scholarly as they “promote richly documented, rapid interchanges among groups of scholars sharing and discussing research representations, theories, methods, findings and models.”
“…social media is not a queue; it’s a flow”(p.22) where
“…doing things together gives us more power than doing things alone.” (p. 20)
Digital scholarship is on the cusp of significant change. The increased use of Web 2.0 applications, Twitter in particular, builds upon traditional, analogue scholarship whilst making the most of contemporary digital applications, technology and the participatory nature of the social Web 2.0. Zorich says that “… it extends the functional perception of the online from being ‘a place to search’ to ‘a place to interact.’ (2012, p.49). Weller goes on to say that, “as with other scholarly functions, some will remain, but the digital alternative not only allows for new ways of realising the same goals but also opens up new possibilities.” (2012, p. 84). Using Twitter for digital scholarship increases the potential to enhance learning and promote creativity, collaboration and sharing (Dede, 2009, p.260) whilst also considering that tools, like Twitter, make the job easier with the results being of a higher quality than would be possible without the tool itself.
Coleman, V., (2013) Social Media as a Primary Source: A Coming of Age. EDUCAUSE Review, November/December, 2013, Vol.48, No. 6, 60-61
Corbeil, J.R., Corbeil, M.E., (2015). The Birth of a Social Networking Phenomenon. Educating Educators with Social Media. Published online: 02 Mar 2015; 13-32.
Dede, C (2009). Technologies That Facilitate Generating Knowledge and Possibly Wisdom. Educational Researcher, Vol. 38, No. 4, 260–263
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Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
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Rheingold, H., (2010). Attention and other 21st Century Social Media Literacies. EDUCAUSE Review, Sept, 2010, Vol.45, No. 5, 14-16
Twitter.com – https://about.twitter.com/company
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Weller, Martin (2012). Digital Scholarship and the Tenure Process as an Indicator of Change in Universities. In “Innovation and Good Practices in University Government and Management” [online dossier]. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal (RUSC). Vol. 9, No 2, 347-360
Zorich, D. M. (2012). Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship. Report to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.