Putting the Service In Scholarship

service flickr photo by melanerpist shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

I was lurking on the feeds of The Digital Literacy Symposium being held at the University of Rhode Island. I discovered the conference as I keep the #digiuri hashtag up on Tweetdeck. Quickly I bumped into some of the coolest people I know and some OG folks of learning on the Open Web having a discussion of reframing and rethinking what digital literacy means in higher education.

I agree with many of the folks at the Institute. Digital literacy is so much more than a competency grid (and I have spent and do  spend countless times building competency maps). Especially in higher education.

In terms of the academy we need to be transformational. If Digital Literacy means a fundamental rethinking of how we read, write, and participate it also requires an examination of what in means to serve as an academic. How can the ways that we read, write and participate become more playful, open, and remixable?

Digital scholarship is simply not sustainable in old models of what counts as scholarship

Lucy is correct. We need to rethink what we do with our time as scholars.

Digitally Engaged Scholarship

Helping hands flickr photo by antonella.beccaria shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license
Digital Literacy and higher education means a focus on digitally networked scholarship. The concept, a fork of community engaged scholarship, basically means that we can empower each other through networked leaning and digital tools in ways where the lines between scholarship, teaching, and service melt away.

Why should a journal article, even with a high impact rating and cited a few hundred times, carry more weight for someone who develops an open curriculum adopted by hundreds of schools across the globe? We still need the rigorous  peer reviewed (though I would move to open here too) approach to our research. Yet we also need to recognize the creation of global and local learning spaces as a form of research.

Service as Scholarship

One area where we digital scholars need to tell our story better is in terms of service. I am watching the #digiURI feed and I see many faculty who have helped to build tools and communities that have taught thousands…but we have systems in place that do not recognize these efforts.

We need to empower each other as story tellers so institutions recognize our work. So I wanted to share the few projects, digital, global, or local that that I have been working on recently:

Copyright Toolkit

Following a curriculum workshop call sponsored by the Mozilla Learning team I joined Chad Sansig and the Mozilla Foundation in developing a copyright toolkit. My thinking is to use comic strips to create a series of lessons and as an assessment type where you choose the next frame. Spoiler: The story will end in the Commons. Yes it would essentially be a series of readings and multiple choice questions but it should scale well and make localization efforts easier. This is for the open lesson. From there we will get more production based. Thinking of targeting teacher prep programs and teach students to write lessons about copyright. Contributors wanted.

Personal Leadership Toolkit

On the Mozilla Corporation side (Mozilla the maker of Firefox has two parts) I am working with Emma Erwin and friends  on a leadership toolkit that can help level up the skills of key contributors to Mozilla’s mission. This involves writing workshop content that coaches can use on the ground around leadership topics or self study guides to help level up skills of contributors spread across the globe. Contributors wanted.

New Haven Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Reading

This past year I have served as a subcommittee chair for Mayor Tony Harp’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Reading. Our goal is to rethink reading instruction across the Elm City, in school and out. Our job was to do a content analysis of the 3-12 curriculum.

Connecticut Commission On Educational Technology

I also serve on the legislatively established Connecticut Commission of Educational Technology. Specifically I work with Doug Casey and others on the Digital Literacy Advisory Council. We examine how to improve learning in Connecticut with digital tools while also ensuring our students leave schools literate in the ways in which we read, write, and participate on the web.


I also provide non-technical contributions to my favorite open source annotation tool: hypothes.is. This year I helped look at wireframes and prototypes of their newly launched user and group profiles.

LRA E-Editor

I have been working with Misty Sailors on creating video abstracts for the Journal of Literacy Research. This involved teaching a team of doctorate students how to record a videochat. They took it from there and added bumpers and a well laid out and predictable interview format.

Alt.Pub Study Group

Every year at the Literacy Research Association conference Ian and I run the Alt.Pub study group. This year we focused on Domain Of One’s Own and created a place where we could workshop as we created personal websites. A digital hub to gather much of the identity work that gets spread across the web.

As an off-shoot we created an affinity group that will continue to meet through-out the year. We gather at 3:30 GMT every Monday on Skype. So far Colin Harrison and Peggy Semmingson have joined in on the fun  but others are joining next semester. The goal is to build a place where you can just drop in and ask questions or share your work.

Telling our Story

Noble-New-England-3 flickr photo by Elle Couerblanc shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

We are the academy. I love my job. We get paid to learn. One thing I have learned about digital literacy is we can allow it to further democratize education or let it continue to silo off learning in closed echo chambers. What story do you want to tell?

26 responses on “Putting the Service In Scholarship”


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