Topic 1: Digital Visitors and Residents

Explain the concept of digital “visitors” and “residents” drawing upon your reading and your own online experiences to date in support of the points you make.

Developed from Marc Prensky’s “Digital Natives” and “Digital immigrants” model; the digital “visitors and “residents” take a flaw from Prensky’s model stating that: “Just because people are proficient users of technology for social purposes, it does not necessarily follow that they are effective at using it for learning or to build their professional online profiles.”


A “visitor” sees the web as a collection of tools, which can be used to get things done. Once the task is complete, the visitor will return the tool and leave;  leaving no social trace of them online. An example in my life of this is when researching for an assignment, I use Google scholar to find an article, once read I leave the webpage.

A “resident” sees the web as a series of spaces or places: living out a portion of their life online. They interact with the web, leaving traces that remain. Examples of this in my life include having a Facebook and twitter profile which I actively use to post on other peoples photos, re-tweet and tweet. These resident modes build up your personality online, generating you “online profile”.

In David Whites video (embedded below) he takes this one step further, suggesting that we cannot just have a continuum between residents and visitors. Below is a diagram which shows this concept.


The idea is that someone can be proficient at using the web in their “personal” life, but not in their “institutional” life. Before starting this module, though I was a resident of the web, I mostly used the web for personal use. However, this module has begun to make me look into developing my professional profile, and begin to use the web in a much more interactive and academic way. I have done this by joining the digital humanities mailing list, which I interact with, giving feedback to others; starting this blog, creating an page and a linked in.

It is important to that this concept is a spectrum. Each individual will use the web in different ways, socially or academically. Someone who is a resident in their social use of the web, does not necessarily become a proficient user of the web in an institutional way. This is something that needs to be learnt and developed.

Visitors and Residents: David White, Oxford University. 


White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).
Pensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horrizon, 9(5).
White, D. (2014). Visitors and Residents. Video Presentation. 
Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, David White, and Donna Lanclos. 2011. Visitors and residents: What motivates engagement with the digital environment? Presented at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting Bridging the Gulf: Communication and Information in Society, Technology, and Work Conference, October 10, 2011, New Orleans, LA.
White, D. (2008) Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’ Tall Blog, University of Oxford. 
Harris, Lisa, Warren, Lorraine, Leah, Jean and Ashleigh, Melanie (2010) Small steps across the chasm: ideas for embedding a culture of open education in the university sector. In Education Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2), , 16 , (1

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