CCK11 – Scholarship

31 01 2011

Martin Weller’s live presentation last week generated a lot of discussion regarding the nature and definition of scholarship and how scholarship is changed or needs to be redefined for the digital age.

The questions that arose in the Martin Weller chat showed there was a lot of unclarity as to defining and recognising a ‘scholar’:

  • Do you have to be in a university to be a scholar?
  • …so a scholar is someone that publishes their thoughts?
  • is scholarship any material that is well thought out? Can’t anyone be a scholar? ┬áIs anyone who writes for Wikipedia a scholar?
  • Surely scholarship is simply a commitment to learning?
  • who decides who is a scholar?
  • I don’t think it’s the output that mattrers, it’s the inputs
  • Is scholarship a craft, … or accreditation?
  • Why is one person a ‘scholar’ and another not? Because the one is ‘schooled’ – ie., has read the literature, has relevant experience,
  • scholarship is when someone else is willing to pay for knowledge?

… and the debate continued!

Clearly scholarship is not easy to define and there is probably no single, neat definition. At times I thought the discussion was mixing up three terms: Scholarly activity, Scholarship, and Scholar. From the online discussion, this is how I categorised the different views and interpretations put forwards:

Scholarly activity: the commitment to learning through engaging with reading, research, collaboration, publishing in a particular field (inputs?)

Scholarship: – the outputs – e.g. degree, PhD, dissemination of research through appropriate channels, peer-reviewed publications

Scholar – recognition by others of worthy scholarly activity and scholarship that make valid contributions to a particular knowedge domain or practice.

Is the digital age actually changing the core concept of these terms, or is it that the affordances of the digital age aren’t fully agreed, recognised, valued, understood embraced … by the traditional use and application of these terms?