The digital scholar
The digital scholar

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

The digital scholar

Week 3: Integration and interdisciplinarity


Boyer’s integration function is concerned with making connections across academic disciplines. In The Digital Scholar Martin Weller considers the potential of networked technologies and then looks in more detail at two examples: blogging and Twitter.

Watch Martin Weller describe this further:

Download this video clip.Video player: Week 3 introduction
Skip transcript: Week 3 introduction

Transcript: Week 3 introduction

Martin Weller
This week, you’ll look at how digital scholarship influences interdisciplinarity. In the predigital days, to get information on a subject you went to a brick library with paper books sat on wooden shelves, so they had to be organised to discipline-based areas, using the ISBN system. Cross-discipline study was not an easy business.
Digital resources have changed all that, particularly if you add in social media. Twitter, for example, is very good at making new connections. But also, with the excess noise, there’s a tendency to create a somewhat confusing echo chamber.
There are more academic-specific sites or disciplinary-based ones that still retain much of the structure between disciplines. This allows more focused communication to take place. But then, of course, it also loses the serendipity that occurs in social media.
On Twitter, we tend to have multiple communities in one space, combining personal interests, people in the same institution, and peers in the same subject. Some people act as effective connectors between communities, and often conversations will highlight similar interests in different disciplines. Related to this is the rise of open resources and open-access publications. It is much easier to read and understand topics in other disciplines if they are freely available. In fact, they almost find you.
End transcript: Week 3 introduction
Week 3 introduction
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

By the end of this week you will have:

  • gained an understanding of how new technology can influence interdisciplinarity
  • considered how open access publishing can influence interdisciplinarity.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371