Digital media are transforming literacy, scholarship, teaching, and service, as well as providing new venues for research, communication, and the creation of networked academic communities. The topic of changing research, scholarship, and pedagogical practices in digital environments as a field of study is under researched in higher education. In the last few decades, faculty have increasingly developed their pedagogical expertise and conducted inquiries in digital environments.

Digital Scholars Institute (DSI) is a pilot program created by Dr. Mary Kayler, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (CTE&I) at the University of Mary Washington (UMW) that began in Spring 2014. This initiative supports the exploration of ‘digital scholarship’ in higher education and aims to investigate current uses of digital tools and environments for teaching and scholarship and makes visible and open the ways in which faculty define and enact digital scholarship in at UMW. Faculty report of ‘actual use’ of digital pedagogy and digital scholarship aims to highlight overlaps (across disciplines), identify contradictions and common influences of traditional and new pedagogical and scholarly practices.

UMW has a rich history of digital innovations, digital pedagogy and scholarship, and liberal arts values driven online course design. CTE&I and Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) faculty development efforts align and we collectively support faculty in areas related to digital scholarship.  In Spring 2013, 2014 CTE&I funded two rounds of a faculty-centered Domain of One’s Own university-wide initiative engaging 48 faculty in the work of conceptualizing, building/refining their domains and ‘owning’ and ‘developing’ an online identity.  CTE&I also contributes to curriculum development and course reviews for UMW’s Online Learning Initiative.

The DSI is situated within a broader conversation – the role of digital scholarship within respective disciplines and broader implications of digital scholarship in higher education. The 2014 pilot faculty cohort was comprised of ten high-end digital scholars, from a variety of disciplines, called ‘faculty fellows.’ Drs. Sue Fernsebner and Betsy Lewis are serving as faculty fellow cohort leaders for bi-weekly, face-to-face, one hour meetings. Faculty ‘fellows’ received a small stipend,  shared and provided feedback  (online and off) on faculty selected digital projects, and situate their work within the broader context of digital scholarship.  At the end of the semester, the group decided to continue its conversations in the fall, and to expand its reach to the broader UMW community, and even beyond, with plans for a new cohort in 2015.