Digital Scholarship

Digital technologies have redefined traditional approaches to scholarship and Weller (2014) argues that the most significant aspect of these changes is a move toward Openness (p. 51). The impacts of Openness on Boyer’s (1990) four main characteristics of traditional scholarship include the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) for discovery, integration, application and teaching. Academic publications from organisations such as the MacArthur Foundation such as Participatory Learning (Ray, Jackson and Cupaiuolo, 2014) and Civics participating in a Digital World (Ray, Jackson and Cupaiuolo, 2014_b) (available for free from Google Play Books) demonstrate the application of innovative, multimodal and Open digital scholarship.


It is in the area of education that digital scholarship is experiencing measureable changes (Weller, 2014, p. 51). Academic research, collaboration and publication can utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies to investigate and develop theories with practical applications for constructivist pedagogies (Rheingold, 2015) that are based on the analysis of specific data (Siemens and Long, 2011). Further to this, scholars are now able to publish and share content that is peer reviewed through Open and trusted networks without the lengthy delays of traditional peer reviewed journals (Scanlon, 2014, p. 18; Seeley- Brown and Adler, 2008; Wenger, 2011, p.5).


The facilitation of information and knowledge creation by digital technologies has also resulted in a restructuring toward a democratic praxis of Openness (Winn, 2015, p. 2-3). Open scholarship has also been encouraged toward a more critical investigation of digital technologies using the large amounts of data generated to inform and guide information behaviours at all levels. Early adopters of the use of data to present information about our societies such as Gapminder’s Hans Rosling (2009), have demonstrated effective ways to enact digital scholarship.


Critical analyses of educational technology can now benefit from Open scholarship and frame pedagogical theories in globalised contexts (Selwyn, 2010). Agile approaches toward digital scholarship that employ Openness can look beyond outdated outcome based formative assessments toward a development of sustainable values and ideas (Scanlon, 2014, p. 14). In this way a shift from education practices based on industrial political economies toward more Open, collaborative and participatory global communities can also focus on the needs and wellbeing of all life- long learners (UNESCO, n.d._a; UNESCO, n.d._b.; Varghese, 2014).


The United Nations’ [UN] (2015) policy of Open access to their Human Development Reports databases provides valuable information for digital scholars to discover, integrate, apply and teach. Digital scholars can, in this way, utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies to communicate their knowledge and skills across disciplines (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009_a, p. 252) by framing their publications in cross- disciplinary contexts with a detailed critical analysis of global data. The Open nature of UN data reports is an exciting development for digital scholars seeking to investigate and agitate for change toward educational equity in our ‘flattened’ global environment (Friedman, 2006).


Agile responses to technological change by digital scholars need to include a strategic focus on nurturing dispositions of curiosity and Openness among learners (Seely Brown, cited in: genconnectofficial, 2014; Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009_a, p. 249 & 252). Corneli et. al., (n.d.) and Rheingold (2015) demonstrate the application of curious and Open dispositions in their Peeragogy trans- media project called 5PH1NX (See Image 1). An evaluation of such Peeragogical approaches toward scholarship need to consider the heuristic measurements of well-being in learners to maintain sustainable approaches toward their happiness (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005; Mendelsohn, 2008).


Image 1: Peeragogy Mindmap. (Corneli, 2015)


Structured approaches to the identification and measurement of the heuristic development of cognitive skills (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005) is a critical aspect of educational leadership that seeks to utilise the affordances of Open scholarship resources (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009_a, p. 248). Digital scholarship can provide detailed information to guide educational policy leadership in these areas by using Open source technologies and education informatics (Garg and Shukla, 2015). Ethical approaches to the use of Open resources and data may provide the information needed to overcome the stereotypical preconceptions that lead to cognitive bias (Davidson and Goldberg, 2009, p. 24).


Hans Rosling’s TED Talk The best stats you’ve ever seen (TED2006, 2006) demonstrates the power of Open data to provide clarity that is urgently needed in the field of educational informatics. A combination of such detailed data with reflective practices used in Positive Psychology (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005) about the use of educational technologies (Scanlon, 2014, p. 20) may provide further opportunities to explore the future consciousness of excitement, adventure and change in digital scholarship (Tynan and Lee, 2009). Teaching and learning in digital environments can utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 to move beyond industrial, capitalist, political paradigms and their arguably outdated learning outcomes to connect with agile and vibrant learning communities that are in the early process of creating positive change (Rosling and Rosling, 2014).




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Rheingold, H. (2015). The Peeragogy Handbook. 3rd Ed. Chicago, IL./Somerville, MA.: PubDomEd/Pierce Press. Retrieved from


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Winn, J. (2015). Open education and the emancipation of academic labour. Learning, Media and Technology, (ahead-of-print), 1-20. Retrieved from

One thought on “Digital Scholarship

  1. Iain, an astute and comprehensive post that shares essential readings and more to do with digital scholarship. I enjoyed reading and learning from your work. Well done!

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