Scholarship goes digital
New technology is changing the way staff and students research, learn and teach at the University.
Social media like Twitter, wikis, podcasting and virtual worlds are encouraging new ways of teaching and sharing discoveries.
Computers are also shifting the way research is conducted, as they analyse massive sets of data and digitise collections and research archives.
This ever-evolving area is called digital scholarship - when research, learning and teaching interacts with the digital world.
Digital scholarship in its broadest sense means re-thinking every area of our academic practice - the way we do research, the media we use to teach, how we publish and how we build academic reputations.
Social media is increasingly used within teaching. Twitter, for example, is used to share resources, pertinent news items and academic articles, and generally to stimulate conversation amongst students.
The 150 distance learning students studying the MSc in E-learning use the hashtag #mscel to share resources and remain in contact.
Recently another course on digital cultures held a two week film festival, using the hashtag c to allow students to discuss on Twitter the selected movies.
Technological advances have broken down traditional barriers, encouraging techniques associated with one discipline to be used in others.
For example, Dr Dominic Johnson, a reader in politics and international relations, used a computer model based on biological evolutionary theory to produce his latest work on overconfidence.
The University's collections and archives are also increasingly being digitised and put online to aid with research and teaching.
The Reid Concert Hall Museum of Instruments recently digitised its musical collection as part of its role in leading a Europe-wide initiative, Musical Instrument Museums Online. The Centre for Research Collections the Carmichael Watson project put the journals of the Scottish folklore collector Alexander Carmichael online. Both projects allow academics and public alike to explore a rich set of artefacts to a deeper level.
Online distance courses are also growing rapidly across the University.
Law is one of many schools with a well developed distance learning programme, while hundreds of postgraduates in medicine and veterinary medicine develop their professional work through distance study.
A virtual University of Edinburgh has long existed in the digital world Second Life. This is used by groups across the university to host meetings, tutorials, entertainment, artworks, temporary constructions and various kinds of academic research.
The University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has recently created virtual stables on Second Life where students can take part in real-time tutorials.
It also takes part in WikiVet, an online veterinary encyclopaedia created in collaboration with four other vet schools.
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences has set up a new website, Digital HSS, to publicise upcoming events and initiatives in digital scholarship.
We already do 'the digital' pretty well at this university, but because it’s a landscape that is always shifting, there's always going to be more work to be done, more directions we can take our scholarship in. It's an exciting time.