It is interesting in a time when we are championing networked education, the ethos of networked educators and the need to grow from traditional teaching methodologies to blended teaching approaches, that we are still in a relative dark age when it comes to academia accepting the scholarship of a digital scholar as authentic work (Cross, 2008; Weller, 2011; Heap, & Minocha, 2012; Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kingsley, 2010). Technology makes connecting and collaborating easier than never before (Nussbaum-Beach, & Hall, 2012). It makes sense to reach out and seek peer review and input from a wider audience as there is a finite amount we can learn by ourselves, especially if academic endeavours are hidden under a bushel open to only the select few (Fullan, & Hargreaves, 1991; Nussbaum-Beach, & Hall, 2012) in the case of ‘possessive individualism’ or the lone scholar (Rosenzweig, 2007; Pearce, 2010).
Before investigating digital scholarship and the role it plays in the modern scholar’s life it is first important to understand the term scholar and for this paper it is best defined by Weller (2011) as a learned or specialist in a given division of knowledge. A scholar may gain tenure through a strict set of parameters that include (but not limited to) past and continued teaching practice and more importantly research undertaken within their field of study that is published in peer reviewed publications (Costa, 2015; Cross, 2008; Wolski, & Richardson, 2014; Weller, 2011; Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012). Unlike the images of dusty academics working by candle light it highlights that society needs to reimagine its collective image of academics, as reality is far from this outdated vision. In the realm of academia there has been an ongoing division as to what is deemed to be a scholarly pursuit. This is not new debate and has been discussed for decades (Wolski, & Richardson, 2014; Weller, 2011; Heap, & Minocha, 2012; Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012; Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kingsley, 2010). Scholars working in academic institutions such as universities, even now are using social media and new technologies not prescribed by the institution on an ad hoc basis to encourage discourse around their work with peers and the general public (Pearce, 2010; Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kingsley, 2010).
Boyer (1990) in his work “Scholarship reconsidered” suggested that society needs a more inclusive view of scholars that includes an understanding of how their knowledge is acquired through discovery, integration, application and teaching. Boyer’s work (1990), though a solid place to start (Weller, 2011) is now over two decades old (Heap, & Minocha, 2012) and primarily focuses on the individual, there are other conceptual quality frameworks that could also be used in the argument to support the growing need for digital scholarship to be recognised. Borgman (2007) considered three categories to reflect on the process of digital scholarly communication: legitimization, dissemination and access, preservation and curation, which focuses on the scholarship outputs of teams (Hank, 2013) and when applied to Kjellberg’s analytical framework for scholarly blogging (Kjellber, 2009) it is possible to see that there are synergies to be drawn across all these frameworks that can support the recognition of digital scholarly research outputs of both individual and teams.
The research for authentic online learning model outlined by Herrington and Parker (2013) Herrington, Reeves and Oliver (2007) and Cua (2014) is aimed at authentic online learning experiences for students, however, this could be used to form a basis of a capability quality framework, in conjunction with the frameworks of Boyer (1990), Borgman (2007), Kjellberg (2009) and Heap and Minocha (2012), for how institutions can authenticate digital scholarly outputs by scholars, especially regarding research. This can be easily explored through the concept of participatory Web 2.0 tools such as blogging by scholars. A new language must be developed about how scholars’ multi-modal and participatory outputs are considered in terms of publication and tenure (DePalma, & Alexander, 2015).
Salmon (2005) in her work regarding strategic frameworks for e-learning encapsulated the role of digital scholarship being one of flapping and not flying and suggests more needs to be done to support scholars in the development of skills to ensure that digital scholarship can be recognised by institutions as valid. Digital scholarship can leverage the affordances offered by mobile technology (Cochrane, & Bateman, 2010; Laurillard, 2009) while not creating a digital divide for scholars (Costa, 2015) by revisiting the terms of what is scholarship and relate it to digital born outputs. Weller (2011) put forward that outputs for digital scholarship need to be (1) digital, (2) networked and (3) open. The term digital scholar, and indeed for a scholar to become one, implies the need for a cultural change as the engagement with new technologies means that scholars who are using participatory Web 2.0 tools are causing a wicked problem for recognition of scholarly activity in a digital format (Costa, 2015).
The term digital scholarship is more and more being used to refer to the use of social media and participatory Web 2.0 software in academia and research (Heap, & Minocha, 2012), blogging is a useful output to frame the discussion about scholarship in the digital format. In the past formally published items such as peer reviewed journals and manuscripts formed the backbone for what was considered academic writing (Hank, 2013). This view is being challenged by the participatory Web 2.0 tools and the affordances they provide scholars (Luckin et al, 2011; Bower, 2008; Laurillard, 2009; Martindale, & Wiley, 2007; Sappey, & Relf, 2010; Sheffield, 2015; Cochrane, & Bateman, 2010). The affordances that blogging offers academic scholars are varied, but can encompass collaboration, interactivity, connectivity and social rapport, content creation and curation (Kirkup, 2010).
Blogging can be argued to be the conversational scholarship and have made scholarly work accessible to those outside the hallowed halls of academia (Gregg, 2006; Kirkup, 2010). Walker (2006) identifies three types of academic blogs (1) public intellectuals (2) research blogs and (3) pseudonymous blogs about academic life, but it’s only the first two types of blogs that hold a place in the discussion of digital scholarship (Gregg, 2009). It is critical that the distinction be drawn between scholars writing an academic blog and a blog written by a scholar (Mewburn, & Thomson, 2013).
The key problem with traditional academic writing and scholarship, though it develops the reputation of the scholar and likewise associated institutions, is that it is writing that never leaves the institution (Brett, 1991; Gregg, 2006). However, academic blogging on the other hand makes the scholarly work accessible and accountable to a wide readership and opens the content up for deep scrutiny from others outside of the learning area and supports the emergent practice of networked participatory scholarship (Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012). Blogging enables scholars to share early research results and gives them the ability to debate and discuss results with peers prior to formal publication and they are also able to seek input with experimental issues (Powell, Jacob, & Chapman, 2012). By leveraging the affordances of blogs researchers can disclose details of method design, data collection and initial results and the affordances also offer the researcher the ability to provide links and embed media to support their research (Bower, 2008; Costa, 2014; Heap, & Minocha, 2012). Blogs can be tools that support scholars in facilitating their research, collaboration with a wider audience and sharing their knowledge which supports the openness of being a digital scholar (Park, Heo, & Lee, 2011).
If scholars are using Web 2.0 tools to support their pedagogy and to model lifelong learning principles then it is imperative that exemplars are created of high quality scholarly work to support the context of concepts and to provide points of reference for students (DePalma, & Alexander, 2015; Goodfellow, 2013; Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009; Heap, & Minocha, 2012; Kirkup, 2010), currently this is not the case for many teaching areas. The ability to demonstrate effective use of the multi-modal design of a blog is important for scholars to come to terms with, but also forms an integral part of providing authentic learning experiences for students (Herrington, & Parker, 2013; Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2007; Cua, 2014). For outputs to be considered as exemplars the scholar needs to blog under their real name rather than a pseudonymous, as this will lend authenticity to their work, and enable them to use this digital scholarship as part of their discussions around tenure where academic outputs are to be demonstrated (Walker, 2006; Weller, 2011; Kirkup, 2010; Heap, & Minocha, 2012).
The need to develop the necessary skills around digital technologies could conceivably be started in the K-12 education space, the VET environment, as well as post-secondary. Skills for writing for an online audience can be developed through blogging and academic blogging (Walker, 2006; Gregg, 2009; Kirkup, 2010) with the thought the more you blog the better you become at it being paramount. Reflective writing in a blog can form an important part of authentic online learning and to ensure its authenticity students must have a specific purpose for their writing (Herrington, & Parker 2013; Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2007), equally reflective blog writing could form another dimension to research projects that have been funded as it adds a level of openness and dynamisms to the project as it has a key purpose of reflecting about the research process (Heap, & Minocha, 2012).
The practice of peer review in academia is well-known to form a critical part of scholarship, but many feel that this is absent from academic blogging (Cross, 2008; Gregg, 2006; Powell, Jacob, & Chapman, 2011). Though there is the ability to add comments to blogs, the key point is that this is not true peer review (Sheffield, 2015; Cross, 2008; Weller, 2011). Hank (2013) challenged this point by observing that the peer review process does form a gatekeeping function and that the use of comments on blogs could free an academic from this locked-step approach of formal peer review and thus open a scholars work up to scrutiny from a wide audience, though admittedly less expert. This could then reasonably be used as part of the discourse around scholarship of academics.
The discussion around how to quantify the scholarly output of a scholar in light of digital scholarship is always problematic. Metrics are used regarding publications and citations that are then linked directly to performance and funding, however, currently there is little acknowledgement of the digital scholarship that many scholars create. In a world of big data and user analytics it should become standard that digital scholarship is accounted for. Frameworks that can incorporate both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to investigate digital scholarship could be created to capture information about digital scholarship using, for instance, in blogs monitor link analysis, usage statistics such as page views or comment analysis and blog posts citing articles (Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012; Wolski, & Richardson, 2014; Kjellberg, 2010). This could help scholars and institutions to understand the impact that digital scholarship and subsequently the outreach it is having (Veletsianos, & Kimmons, 2012).
Though the affordances of blogs are varied there is a concern about the longevity of them in terms of accessibility, duration and digital preservation (Walker, 2006; Pearce, 2010). Unlike traditional journal articles that can be housed in curated collections within a library or publishing house there is simply not the same robust set of preservation strategies around digital outputs, especially if they are created ad hoc and not within an institutions supported ICT (Pearce, 2010). Gregg (2009) identifies blogs as short term, which lends support to the need for institutions to capture important academic information from scholar’s academic blogs (Cross, 2008). With-out prudent, timely intervention of preservation strategies traditional forms of scholarly output will continued to be favoured (DePalma, & Alexander, 2015; Walker, 2006).
Scholars work in the genres of their time (Walker, 2006) and with the advancements in technology and the fast pace of adoption institutions are moving at a glacial pace to recognise and accept the scholarship outputs in a digital space such as an academic blog. It is unmistakable that technology is creating new situations for learning with digital scholarship opening up scholars to new and different ways of working that needs to be valued by academia. There are those who will embrace new technologies and new ways of working and understand its benefits to both society and academia (Weller, 2011) and will lead at the forefront. Whilst these scholars have embraced the new, they have become hamstrung by the lack of acknowledgement for scholarship contained in these tools, such as blogs (Sheffield, 2015; Cross, 2008; Weller, 2011). With usage analytics it is possible for universities and institutions to track the activity of the academic blog and can be tied to the carefully constructed metrics that are currently employed against publications rates that result in funding. Powell, Jacob and Chapman (2012) eludes to blogs not replacing traditional forms of scholarship, but blogs and Web 2.0 participatory scholarship should become part of the body of evidence to demonstrate scholarly activity and discussion as blogs can and do complement as well as contribute to traditional forms of scholarly publication.
Borgman, C. (2007). Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Boyer E.L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Brett, Judith. (1991) The Bureaucratization of Writing: Why So Few Academics Are Public Intellectuals [online]. Meanjin, 50(4), 513-522. Retrieved from: http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=123189240792115;res=IELLCC
Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45(1), 3-15. doi:10.1080/09523980701847115
Cochrane, T., & Bateman, R. (2010). Smartphones give you wings: pedagogical affordances of mobile Web 2.0. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 1-14. Retrieved from: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/3541/1/editorial26-1.pdf
Costa, C. (2015). Outcasts on the inside: academics reinventing themselves online. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 34(2), 194-201. doi:10.1080/02601370.2014.985752
Cross, J. G. (2008). Reviewing Digital Scholarship: The Need for Discipline-Based Peer Review. Journal of Web Librarianship, 2(4), 549-566. doi:10.1080/19322900802473936
Cua, F. (2014). Authentic Education: Affording, Engaging, and Reflecting. In V. Wang (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Education and Technology in a Changing Society (pp. 639-650). Hershey, PA . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch047.
DePalma, M.J., & Alexander K.P.(2015). A Bag Full of Snakes: Negotiating the Challenges of Multimodal Composition. Computers and Composition, 37, 182-200. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2015.06.008.
Fullan, M., & Hargreaves, A. (1991). What’s worth fighting for in your school? Andover, MA: Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast and Islands.
Gregg, M. (2006). Feeling Ordinary: Blogging as Conversational Scholarship. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 20(2), 147-160. doi:10.1080/10304310600641604
Gregg, M. (2009). Banal Bohemia: Blogging from the Ivory Tower Hot-Desk. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 15(4), 470–483. doi: 10.1177/1354856509342345
Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. (2009). Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age: Web 2.0 and Classroom Research: What Path Should We Take Now? Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20532540
Goodfellow, R. (2013). Scholarly, digital, open: An impossible triangle? Research in Learning Technology, 21. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.3402/rlt.v21.21366
Hank, C. (2013). Communications in Blogademia: An Assessment of Scholar Blogs’ Attributes and Functions. New Review of Information Networking, 18(2), 51-69. doi:10.1080/13614576.2013.802179
Heap, T. & Minocha, S. (2012). An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging for digital scholarship. Research in Learning Technology, 20, 176-188. Available at: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/19195. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19195.
Herrington, J., & Parker, J. (2013). Emerging technologies as cognitive tools for authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 607-615. doi:10.1111/bjet.12048
Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2007). Immersive learning technologies: Realism and online authentic learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(1), 80-99. doi:10.1007/BF03033421
Kirkup, G. (2010). Academic blogging: academic practice and academic identity. London Review of Education, 8(1), 75-84. doi:10.1080/14748460903557803
Kjellberg, S. (2009). Scholarly blogging practice as situated genre: an analytical framework based on genre theory. Information Research, 14(3), Special Section 1-13. Retrieved from: http://www.informationr.net/ir/14-3/paper410.html
Kjellberg, S. (2010). I am a blogging researcher: Motivations for blogging in a scholarly context. First Monday 15(8) http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v15i8.2962
Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. Computer Supported Learning 4(5). doi:10.1007/s11412-008-9056-2
Luckin, R., Clark, W., Garnett, F., Whitworth, A., Akass, J., Cook, J., Day, P., Ecclesfield, N., Hamilton, T., & Robertson, J. (2011). Learner-Generated Contexts: A Framework to Support the Effective Use of Technology for Learning. In M. Lee, & C. McLoughlin (Eds.) Web 2.0-Based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching (pp. 70-84). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-294-7.ch004
Martindale, T., & Wiley David A. (2007). Using weblogs in scholarship and teaching. TechTrends Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 49(2), 55-61. doi:10.1007/BF02773972
Mewburn, I., & Thomson, P. (2013). Why do academics blog? An analysis of audiences, purposes and challenges. Studies in Higher Education, 38(8), 1105-1119.Retrieved from: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5b582a96-5790-4c8b-bcfe-bd1eadcded37%40sessionmgr120&vid=1&hid=125
Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Park, Y., Heo, G. M., & Lee, R. (2011). Blogging for informal learning: Analyzing bloggers’ learning perspective. Educational Technology & Society, 14(2), 149–160.Retrieved from: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=78782bff-1a66-4c4a-b0c4-26125d2dd141%40sessionmgr107&vid=1&hid=125
Pearce, N. (2010). A study of technology adoption by researchers, Information, Communication & Society, 13(8), 1191-1206, doi: 10.1080/13691181003663601
Pearce, N., Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Kingsley, S. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: How new technologies could transform academic work. In Education, 16(1). Retrieved from: http://www.ineducation.ca/article/digital-scholarship-considered-how-new-technologies-could-transform-academic-work
Powell, D., Jacob, C., & Chapman, B. (2012). Using Blogs and New Media in Academic Practice: Potential Roles in Research, Teaching, Learning, and Extension. Innovative Higher Education, 37(4), 271-282. doi:10.1007/s10755-011-9207-7
Rosenzweig, R. (2007) ‘Can history be open source? Wikipedia and the future of the past’, Journal of American History, 93(1), 117–136. doi: 10.2307/4486062
Salmon, G. (2005). Flying not flapping: a strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in higher education institutions. Research in Learning Technology, 13(3), 201-218. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v13i3.11218 Retrieved from : http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/11218.
Sappey, J., & Relf, S. (2010). Digital Technology Education and its Impact on Traditional Academic Roles and Practice. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 7(1), 1-17. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?sid=975012aa-bb94-411b-8116-43d064bb3a70%40sessionmgr106&vid=0&hid=107&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=72099652&db=ehh
Sheffield, J. P. (2015) Digital Scholarship and Interactivity: A Study of Commenting Features in Networked Books, Computers and Composition, 37, 166-181. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2015.06.010.
Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766–774. doi:http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001
Walker, J. (2006). Blogging from inside the ivory tower. Peter Lang. Retrieved from https://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/1846
Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black.
Wolski, M., & Richardson, J. (2014). A Model for Institutional Infrastructure to Support Digital Scholarship. Publications, 2(4), 83–99. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/publications2040083