My digital scholarly identity

Pixabay CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication
Pixabay CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

Data collection

I followed the steps for self-assessment as set out in the OpenUCT Guide (Goodier and Czerniewicz, 2012) I was also guided by some of the concepts discussed in Velitsianos (2015) and the roadmap provided by Pallitt (2015).

I collected data for this assignment by using a Google Search as well as a duckduckgo search. As my name, Lalien, is often confused with some variant of “LA-alien” or “el-alien” when I do a general Google search, I decided to do a Boolean search with limited search results on Google ( using “lalien cilliers”. This delivered “about 2 250” results. I also did a similar search for “helena cilliers” and a duckduckgo search for both.

Google search “Lalien Cilliers”

Google search “Helena Cilliers”

Data analysis

In terms of the above search hits, I identified an extensive non-scholarly digital footprint and a lesser digital shadow.

My digital shadow is not as extensive as my digital footprint, as I act mostly as a distributor rather than a creator of content at this stage. I simply don’t have time to comment on other’s blogs or accounts and rarely respond to comments on my own. This is not by choice, but because of time constraints.

Part of my digital shadow is also when I am mentioned as my father’s daughter – he is, at 76 years old – very active online and spends lots of time on Facebook. He also writes newspaper articles and book reviews and was the chair of the Writers’ Society for more than three decades.

My digital footprint can be identified based on the Google and Duckduckgo search results. The search results that correctly identified me, can be subdivided into my four online personas. None of these returns are scholarly artifacts, but I believe that the extent of my online experience prepares me well for the creation of a fifth persona, namely that of the digital scholar.

These are the present four personas that could be identified. The expectation is that the fifth persona, that of the digital scholar, would be formed from the learnings of especially the third and fourth personas.

  1. My “personal” persona

This deals with my personal profiles, general persona and often brings up links to areas of interest, such as photography and singing. I am very active online, with a Facebook profile and just about every major account out there.

  1. My “organisations” persona

I have chaired or have been on management committees for a number of organisations. In terms of an online presence, two stand out: SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Gobal Entrepreneurship), and international NGO of which I was the South African National Coordinator for about a year. The other is “Die Bloemfonteinse Skrywersvereniging” (an Afrikaans writers’ society based in Bloemfontein) of which I was on the committee at various times, and which I chaired for a year. As part of both of these national (and for SAGE, an international) competitions were held and the various press releases and marketing information are often linked to my name. Furthermore I set up websites for both of these organisations, and for SAGE I linked the website to a YouTube Channel, Facebook Group, Facebook Page and Twitter account – all of which I created and are thus linked to my name.

  1. My “linguist” persona

I published a non-fiction book through JP van der Walt Uitgewers in the late 90s and this book, which no longer exist and of which the copyright has reverted to me, is nevertheless still being actively advertised on a great number of sites. Most of these were the result of automated search bots linking to the ISBN.

I have written a number of other yet-to-be published (and all too often, yet-to-be completed) pieces of writing. There are specifically two book series that I have worked on extensively and for which I have started creating an online platform. This platform centres around my “writing website”,

Writer's website
Writer’s website

This website is linked to a Facebook Page ,

Facebook (writer’s) Page

my YouTube channel ,

My (writer's) YouTube channel
My (writer’s) YouTube channel

a Twitter Account,

Twitter (writer's) account
Twitter (writer’s) account

and my Google+ profile. I actively maintain the Facebook Page and have just over four thousand followers (the initial one and a half thousand via a paid ad campaign), although for the past year or so mostly by linking to other writing pages as I am not getting to my own work.

I also have a second blog (… I have to confess to having several) which is less of a “commercial writing site” and more of a personal musing. Haven’t been there in a while, though.

Other than the writing, I am also an experienced translator for overseas companies and this persona also surfaces on the web, though not a lot.

  1. My “work/EdTech” persona

I have been a manager at Via Afrika for a number of years, although only recently at the “mother company”. For most of the time the company had been split into two clearly demarcated print publishing and digital business units. As part of the digital business unit, I have been very active online and I am expected to join social media sites and download apps and attend webinars and digital conferences. This means that I have an extensive digital footprint in the area of edtech. It is, however, not as a researcher, but rather as an observer of trends and an evaluator of apps, software, sites and services. I have started our company’s digital footprint as well, by creating a Facebook Page, YouTube channel and Twitter account, but have recently handed this over to an outsourced service supplier. I have a very active Facebook Page with just under 1600 followers, previously named “EdTech Diva” and now renamed as “Edtechnified” to link with this blog.

Facebook Page
Facebook Page

A digital scholar?

My digital footprint, as can be seen from the above, is extensive. I love being online and I interact well with others. At present this is mostly focused on writing.

I am very interested in creating a similar digital footprint as a digital scholar. I don’t have any hits on Google Scholar yet and frankly, I don’t feel that my thoughts are quite ready yet for public consumption. As I progress with my studies, however, I am very interested in publishing, doing webinars, giving online classes, creating a body of content for YouTube and Slideshare. I cannot wait to get to know this field as well as I know my writing field. I would also use the Edtechnified blog and Facebook Page for more informal discussions and blog posts.


In looking at Nicola Pallett’s roadmap, I have to confess that I feel satisfied with the digital footprint that I have in terms of writing. I am looking forward to extending this towards educational technologies and research into emerging technologies.

I value the ability to express myself online and the interaction that it creates. As someone who is more inwardly focused, the online environment allows me to be a serious as I want to be without having to suffer through the social small talk that is often the first interaction when a face-to-face collaboration has to take place.

My concerns are that I simply might not know as much as I would like to know. I don’t want to make a fool of myself online, and I wish I could have a safe place where I could take my first tentative steps as a digital scholar without the deafening silence that might be the only response to my ignorance or misunderstanding of crucial theory.

That being said, I have to confess that I am quite confident – in the fact that I know that I don’t know yet. I think that going into a blogosphere with that as my disclaimer might cause more of a mentoring response than a critical one. Or so I hope!

Oh, and regarding George Veletsianos’s paper on “A case study of scholars’ open and sharing practices” – I found it fascinating reading, but in my present context I feel a bit removed from both the open education model and the higher education environment. In terms of my background as a writer and my present position as a manager in a for-profit corporate, money does speak very loudly. What I would like to figure out, is how a corporate can move into the open education field (which I do believe is where everything is heading) and still make money by means of a changing business model.

This blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Goodier, S. and Czerniewicz. L. (2012) OpenUCT Guide, Academics’ Online Presence: A Four-step guide to taking control of your visibility, This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Pallit, N. (2015) From digital footprint to digital scholar and beyond Last accessed 7 September 2015

Veletsianos, G. (2015). A case study of scholars’ open and sharing practices. Open Praxis. (7)3, 199-209.



  1. I agree with you Lalien, I too had a NON-SCHOLARY digital footprint. I like the way you identify your various personas. I also have an “organisation” persona as having set up websites and social media for other companies, but I tried to be careful not to link my own name to corporate content. I agree with your goal of wanting to establish oneself in the scholarly realm and be an active contributor through open publishing. This for me is also a goal and one that I hope to fulfil one day with this PG Dip being the start of launching back in academia. Your statement “I simply might not know as much as I would like to know” really resonated with me. I also agree that diving into the scholarly world is indeed daunting and when one does make a “splash” one wants to be remembered for a positive contribution and not a belly-flop! Thank you for this insightful blog entry Lalien – I love your easy-reading style of writing.


  2. Hi Helena
    Very detailed write up here. Footsteps clearly visible.
    Just wondering what makes you feel that your thoughts are not ready for public consumption. Maybe you can consider a pilot check in which you make the thoughts available to a controlled audience and then they help you develop the thoughts to consumable ones (if indeed they are not)
    To me I feel that the idea on moving to open model and still make financial gains as it is currently is a big challenge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s