Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Characteristics of the Digital Open Scholar

The traditional scholar, like the scholarship he or she produces, isn't open (open-minded), hopefully, but not "open" in a public way. No, a typical scholar is very exclusive, available only to students in specific academic programs or through toll-access scholarly publications that are essentially unavailable to all but the most privileged. In the digital age, the traditional barriers to accessing scholars or scholarship are unnecessary, but persist for institutional reasons.
 Anderson (2009) suggests a number of activities that characterize the open scholars, including that they
  • create,
  • use and contribute open educational resources,
  • self-archive,
  • apply their research,
  • do open research,
  • filter and share with others,
  • support emerging open learning alternatives,
  • publish in open access journals,
  • comment openly on the works of others, and
  • build networks.
Other characteristics that open scholars are likely to adopt:
  • Have a distributed online identity – using a variety of services an identity is distributed depending on the means by which the individual is encountered.
  • Have a central place for their identity – although their identity is distributed, there is usually one central hub, such as a blog, wiki or aggregation service page (e.g. http://flavors.me/).
  • Have cultivated an online network of peers – the open scholar usually engages in social networks through a preferred service (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed) and regularly contributes to that network.
  • Have developed a personal learning environment from a range of tools – the open scholar develops a suite of preferred tools not through a deliberate policy of constructing a PLE but through personal trial and error.
  • Engage with open publishing – when formal publications are produced open scholars will seek an open publishing route for their dissemination.
  • Create a range of informal output – as well as producing traditional outputs, the open scholar produces and explores different forms of output such as video, podcast, slidecast and so on.
  • Try new technologies – there is an acceptance that technology is not fixed and that new technologies are explored on an individual, ad hoc basis to ascertain where they fit into the individual's overall portfolio of tools.
  • Mix personal and professional outputs – the social network space is characterised by the personal elements its participants reveal, which can be seen as the hooks through which connections are established. The open scholar deliberately mixes personal and professional observations in order to be an effective communicator within these networks and does not seek to keep them distinct.
  • Use new technologies to support teaching and research – when assessing or adopting new technologies they will be appraised not only for their use on a personal basis but also how they can be used to support professional practice, such as using social bookmarking for a research group or creating student portfolios in Friendfeed.
  • Automatically create and share outputs – the default position of an open scholar is to share outputs, be they presentations, ideas, suggestions or publications, using whatever route is appropriate.
While not every open scholar will adopt every one of these practices, they provide an archetypal set of characteristics which allow comparison with traditional scholarly practice and also move away from some of the limitations of a straightforward classification of  "digital".

Source: The Digital Open Scholar

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