Rewarding digital scholarship (or Here comes the spoilsport)

I'm involved in a bit of work at the OU at the moment which is attempting to look at how digital/e-/online activity can be recognised in the formal promotion system.

Some quick thoughts

  • It's a much more fluid environment – we know about journal articles, and apart from some new journals, nothing much changes. Online it's all change. The blogosphere is different today than it was a couple of years ago (partly because of Twitter), and so what you were measuring then may not be appropriate now. So you have to stay on top of things and not have a fixed measure of quality.
  • Use of metrics, should we develop our own? – Technorati, number of subcribers, number of views, etc These can all form part of a narrative, but won't be the main element. However, is there room for developing some kind of 'Digital Scholarship' metric?
  • The personal/work boundary is blurred – when you do and what you do crosses over much more with personal interests. This blog for example, is largely educational technology focused, and thus work-related. But it also features football. And zombies.
  • Granularity is more varied – this relates partly to the use of metrics, for example not all blog posts are equal as you can just post a link, or you can craft a 10,000 word essay, and it's still one post. But also when dealing with new media we need to recognise that a 3 minute video can take as long to create as a 5,ooo word journal article.
  • Assessing quality will be more difficult – do we know what a good educational video looks like? Well, probably but not as much as we know what a good academic article looks like.
  • Online community is often less objective – much of the formal academic process has been specifically designed to be objective, to remove any hint of the personal. Yet online it is this element of the personal that adds value.

If you are interested in any of this then joinus in a discussion on digital literacies hosted by Josie Fraser on 27th March at 13.00 UK time.

I find this interface between formal/informal, digital/old school, fun/work is interesting to me, but here's my fear – by bringing this under the gaze of the formal, institutional system all the fun is stripped out of it. The very reason blogging/twittering/youtubing/podcasting is enjoyable is because it's liberating. If it becomes part of the recognised system will we find it quantised, guidelined, staff developed and assessed to the point of tedium? Then we'll have to move somewhere else. Then I will be campaigning for whatever that new activity is to be formally recognised. And so it goes. It's not too late, you can stop me now.

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