Digital habits, an introduction

You would have had to be living under a rock for the past thirty years not to have noticed the rise and rise of various digital technologies in most aspects of human activity. You have come to research in education with a particular set of ways of working with computers (of various shapes, sizes and mobility), and the Internet.

The tricky thing with 'the digital' is that things keeps changing. That is as the technology improves1, new ways of working emerge in various scholarly communities. Broadly speaking there are five broad sets of changes:

  • changes in the way you search for, organise and curate your research data
  • new research methods that are based upon digital data scapes2
  • changes in the sheer volume of data/information that is available making the usual strategy of knowing-by-reducing3 much more complex.
  • changes in the way you network with colleagues, attract attention to your work and deal with the ever bewildering array of is commonly called social media. Learning to dance with the digital is now an important skill for all folk who work or study in the academy.
  • changes in the way you interact with digital devices, data and other things digital.

Thinking about these issues can make your head hurt. There are a few useful books about but one that has some good, down to earth advice is Howard Rheingold's Net Smart4.

We have organised advice to do with developing or refining your digital habits in terms of finding stuff, storing it once you find it, and then making use of it to support your research work. We also have a section which points to some software you might find useful in your work.

An important issue for any use of software to do things for us is to think carefully about what the software is actually doing when it produces results. We will discuss this further on a separate page. While we can't know all of the intricate workings of a particular piece of software, simply using it without thinking is dumb and can cause problems, i.e. not knowing what the software is doing and simply trusting it is not a good way to work!

There is also a research agenda or two associated with these ideas.

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