Thinking about new digital tools
The STEMDigital programme is as much about reflecting on how digital technologies might impact upon your own research and professional practice, as about learning the basics of how to use the various tools. You’ve invited to explore new tools and reach an informed opinion on them, based on your own explorations and discussion with others. To help you frame your response to the tools we introduce each week, we have developed a reflective framework to offer you a structured way to think through your approach to each new tool. Digital technology being such a fast-moving area, whatever tools we cover now, there will be new tools developed and others being dropped from use. In exploring this set of tools, you’ll also be developing a critical approach to evaluate whatever new developments appear in future.
The reflective framework is based on the New Curriculum for Information Literacy or “ANCIL” (Coonan and Secker, 2011). The four elements include:
- Key skill. This is essentially learning to use the digital tool. We will post instructions each week for each of the Things. You might consider some of the technical issues you’ve encountered or solutions and neat tricks you’ve discovered, and share those with other participants. You may already have tried out, or be using a particular tool. In this case, you might be able to advise other participants.
- Discipline-specific issues. We will set a small task each week for you to achieve using the tool in the context of your work as a early career researcher in the sciences. This heading encourages you to think about how the tool might support the kinds of work you are engaging in (research, teaching, administration, public engagement, job hunting etc), and also how such digital tools might impact on the wider practice of scholarship in the field you work in.
- Evaluation. You are invited to evaluate the tool for use in your own practice and to consider particular issues which it might raise, and which you may have to negotiate. These might include things like confidentiality, copyright, sustainability, accessibility, data ownership or ethics.
- Reflection and integration into practice. You will need to think about creating a strategy for engaging with the tool or tools like this in your future working practice. This might include the changes in your habits or routines to integrate it into your workflow, or change the way you work in the new way enabled by the tool. Alternatively, if you decide not to use the tool, you might need to consider other ways of enhancing that aspect of your work. Even if you decide to opt out, others will be adopting these tools, and you’ll need strategies to deal with the fact that this will impact indirectly on your work and the wider culture and practice of scholarship in your field. This might be the space to set some concrete goals for yourself.
In the comments for each new post, we might suggest specific things to think about, or you might have comments and questions on any of these four aspects. Feel free to raise them!