This talk will discuss how the university has changed over the last two years, as well as which of these changes are likely to remain. We can’t expect that the university will snap back to pre-pandemic normality, particularly with regards to the central role that digital platforms now play in academic life. If we’re entering a future where online will have equivalent status to face-to-face then digital scholarship becomes essential to academic practice. Therefore it’s crucial that we put digital scholarship on a firmer conceptual and methodological footing informed by a critical sociology of higher education.
University did not change much over the last few years, for those of us already teaching online. Digital platforms were already central to most students lives. The difference is now even the most reluctant academic has to admit this. We are past the point where online has equivalent status to face-to-face: the question now is what is the role for face to face in a primarily online education. Digital scholarship is a misnomer: there is just scholarship. I am old enough to recall when electronic documents were of questionable legal validity. Office procedure was you filed the fax copy until the real document arrived, then replaced it. However, seemingly overnight this changed, with fax and then email, becoming real documents, and “snail” or “paper” being used to refer to the old sort. The same, I suggest, will now happen with education: normal lectures, seminars, tests, and tutorials will be the online ones.