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The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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The digital scholar

Introduction and guidance

The digital scholar is a free badged course which lasts 8 weeks, with approximately 3 hours’ study time each week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete another week’s study.

Digital scholarship is a shorthand for the intersection of three technology related developments: digital content, networked distribution and open practices. It is when digital, networked and open intersect that transformational practice occurs. In this free course, The digital scholar, you will explore the impact of digital technologies on scholarly practice.

You’ll get plenty of opportunities to practise your new understanding and skills. Part of this practice will be the weekly interactive quizzes, of which Weeks 4 and 8 will provide you with an opportunity to earn a badge to demonstrate your new skills. You can read more on how to study the course and about badges in the next sections.

This course is based on the book The Digital Scholar by Martin Weller. Most weeks of the course will take one chapter of the book and examine it in more detail. There are extracts from the book embedded in the course and you will be told where they start and stop. The book is concerned with how digital, networked technology is changing academic practice. The intention is not to frame this as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ development, but rather to consider what are the changes occurring and how might these influence practice.

Although full extracts from the book are provided within this course, we recommend that you obtain a copy of the book to use alongside the course. It is available under an open licence, which means it can be freely accessed and reused, as long as the author is acknowledged. You can read it online for free at the publisher’s website: Bloomsbury Academic [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Or you can download a PDF of the book here: The Digital Scholar. Page numbers within the course refer to the online version.

If you wish you can also purchase a hard copy of the book from the publisher or other retailers such as Amazon, but this is not required for the course.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • understand what is meant by the term ‘digital scholarship’
  • recognise Boyer’s scholarship framework
  • consider new approaches to research afforded by digital scholarship
  • understand how digital, networked technology can influence public engagement
  • appreciate the influence of the recent MOOC development.

Making the most of this course

As this course is about digital scholarship, we would encourage you to engage in it as a process as well as studying it as a topic. Most of the activities in this course will ask you to make some notes, or reflect on the content. You are encouraged to do this on your own blog.

This can be one you have already, or one you set up yourself. You can easily set up a free blog via or We won’t give any practical advice on blogging in this course, but there is plenty available online. If you are unfamiliar with blogging use this course as an opportunity to experiment with it and then reflect on whether it can be used as part of your digital scholarship identity. When you wish to share a post with others taking this course, please use the hashtag #dscholar; this can also be used on other social media such as Twitter. Search for this hashtag to see other contributions.

This is not a course about blogging, however, so we will not provide detailed instructions on setting one up. The sites mentioned above do a good job of this, plus there is a lot of advice online. Keeping a blog is a good way to experience for yourself many of the aspects you will study during the course. However, if you feel that setting up and maintaining a blog will be a distraction, it is not a requirement to study the course. If you decide not to keep a blog we suggest that you keep a learning journal as a way of noting and structuring your thoughts through the course.

Moving around the course

The easiest way to navigate around the course is through the ‘My course progress’ page. You can get back there at any time by clicking on ‘Back to course’ in the menu bar.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.