Evolving as a Digital Scholar – Teaching and Researching in a Digital World

Teachers and researchers need to develop or grow in their competences to adapt to the rapid changes and demands of our digital society. “Evolving as a Digital Scholar” which you can download here is written as a practical manual and presents a framework and set of guidelines to evolve as a digital scholar in this new world. In a three-dimensional framework, three key domains of digital agility are presented: getting involved in research, education and (community) service, mobilising (digital) skills on various levels, and acting in multiple roles, both individually and interlinked with others. There is the author, who writes highly specialised texts for expert peers; the storyteller, who crafts accessible narratives for a broader audience in the form of blogs or podcasts; the creator, who uses graphics, audio, and video to motivate audiences to delve deeper into the material; the integrator, who develops and curates multimedia artefacts; and finally the networker, who actively triggers interaction via social media applications and online academic communities. All in all, a digital scholar is a professional learner and a “change agent” who is open to and actively pursues innovation in higher education.

This book is written by JP Bosman, Miné De Klerk and Sonja Strydom from Stellenbosch University in South Africa and myself. It draws on our experiences in many workshops in which we have been involved, as individual instructors/academic developers but also as a team, which has brought a more global perspective into the workshops, courses or individual consultations. It happened that we could spend several weeks, and even months at one another’s university, for a staff mobility exchange, preparing and discussing the next edition of a workshop or training. On one of these occasions, it became really clear that these training opportunities could benefit a lot from a more comprehensive structure. And that’s how the framework emerged, and this book was born.

From the first idea for a book to the final publication of this edition was a long but rewarding journey. With four authors from two universities, we were lucky to have collaborated in the workshops before. That gave us enough common background about the content to cover in this book, but also, and most importantly, the confidence needed to work together as a team of authors. Allowing a personal approach in the chapters each one was responsible for, and being each other’s critical friend, made the writing process so rewarding and has led to this book.

The book is published in open access thanks to the support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. From the beginning, it was our intention to make the book easily accessible and available to a large readership all over the world, including and especially for colleagues in the developing world. We hope and in fact invite the readers of this book to become our critical friends. All constructive comments to improve this book are most welcome and will lead to an updated edition, whenever the time calls for it.

Meanwhile, all that remains for a future digital scholar is to take the final step, and really “Go DIGITAL!”, i.e. Dare, Ignite, Grow, Interact, Try, Appeal and Learn! This can be translated into a lot more active verbs – to further explore when reading the book.

You can get your free copy of “Evolving as a Digital Scholar.” here.

Editor’s note: the cover picture for this article is taken frm one of the training courses given by Wim and the other authors of this book in Stellenbosch University in South Africa.


Wim Van Petegem, Professor of learning technologies at the Faculty of Engineering Technology, KU Leuven, Belgium