It’s an especially interesting time to be a scholar. Digital tools to aid scholarship are appearing at an ever increasing rate. The most exciting part though, is similarly as we’ve seen in the business world, better and more modern tools are appearing that have the potential to usurp larger, less functional enterprise systems .


I’d like to qualify my use of the word ‘modern’ a bit. Some qualities of one of today’s digital scholarly tools are:

  • Built on HTML5.
  • Built with technologies that allow for new features to be rapidly deployed (meaning new features appear in days and not months).
  • High standards of usability.
  • User feedback as part of user experience design.
  • Smaller, more nimble development teams.
  • Easy signup unlike large enterprise software contracts


Take an application like Coursekit for instance. It does much of what the enterprise leader, Blackboard, does - but different in some of the ways I’ve outlined in the list above. While to some on the enterprise side, Coursekit might not seem like a threat, but there are those who predict that Coursekit is indeed a concern for Blackboard - so much that some predict Coursekit will become a Blackboard acquisition. One of the items for the list of modern signifiers is the ease in which a single professor may sign up for the service to use in their classes - much easier than a university having to sign a large contract.

These are some things to watch for in the future among digital tools in the scholarly space. Anyone have any examples that they would like to add?

– Rob, Team Scholastica