The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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1 Into the digital

Described image
Figure 1 Some digital services

In later weeks you will be introduced to some of the ideas surrounding scholarship in the digital world but let’s begin by considering what is meant by ‘digital’. In the Introduction and guidance [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   we suggested that you might use a blog during this course to share your thoughts and to develop your practice but let’s take a look at other online services and tools first.

A characteristic of the digital tools that you will look at here is that they have been developed for sharing or filtering resources. A quick list of services we might use should include:

DeliciousBookmarking site
TwitterSocial network site
SlideShareShare and find presentations
YouTubeVideo sharing site
ScribdOpen publishing service – useful for finding and sharing documents
FlickrPhoto sharing – users can allow others to download and reuse images
TumblrMicro-blogging site
BlogWeb log – can be used for sharing, filtering and aggregating resources and ideas.
WikipediaAn online encyclopedia created and maintained by users

These tools are often described as being part of Web 2.0; a term used by Tim O'Reilly in 2004 to describe changes in the way in which the web was being used. Web 2.0 refers to a growth of collaborative tools and a growth in user-generated web content; the shift from the web as something we consume into a web to which we can all contribute. This does not mean that contribution is mandatory but that online sharing and social networking services can be valuable sources of information, artefacts and ideas.

The tools listed here are free to use, though some offer a fee-paying premium service, and have few skill requirements. You may have created a blog before, or one to use alongside this course, so you may have experienced how simple it can be to contribute content to the web. Most blog services allow users to add widgets that draw in feeds from other services; for example, you might choose to display your Twitter feed on your blog.

Activity 1  Contributing to the digital world

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

You may be familiar with some or all of the tools listed above. Think about how you use them currently. Explore any that you are not familiar with and consider how they might support your work. Use the box below to make some notes.

Remember to bookmark any tools that may be of value. If you find any tools that seem particularly useful, or if you use other tools not listed here, blog them using the #dscholar hashtag. (If you are unfamiliar with the use of hashtags, they are explained in this guide to hashtags in social media.)

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As you move through the course, think about how digital services can support your scholarship and how you can use them to share your work.

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