Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’

As part of the JISC funded Isthmus project we have been taking a close look not at whattechnologies our students use but at how our they use them. We found that our students could not be usefully categorised as Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants. I.e. This distinction does not help guide the implementation of technologies it simply provides the excuse that “some people ‘just don’t get it’ which is why your new approach has failed so badly…”

Anyway, our students appropriation of online services did not seem to follow a simple pattern based on skill level. It seemed to depend on if they saw the web as a ‘place to live’ or as a collection of useful tools. This underlying motivation led us to outline two main categories of distance learning student.

The ‘Resident’

The resident is an individual who lives a percentage of their life online. The web supports the projection of their identity and facilitates relationships. These are people who have an persona online which they regularly maintain. This persona is normally primarily in a social networking sites but it is also likely to be in evidence in blogs or comments, via image sharing services etc  The Resident will of course interact with all the practical services such as banking, information retrieval and shopping etc but they will also use the web to socialise and to express themselves. They are likely to see the web as a worthwhile place to put forward an opinion. They often use the web in all aspects of the of their lives; professionally, for study and for recreation. In fact the resident considers that a certain portion of their social life is lived out online. The web has become a crucial aspect of how they present themselves and how they remain part of networks of friends or colleagues.

The ‘Visitor’

The Visitor is an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises. They may book a holiday or research a specific subject. They may choose to use a voice chat tool if they have friends or family abroad. Often the Visitor puts aside a specific time to go online rather than sitting down at a screen to maintain their presence at any point during the day. They always have an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there. They are sceptical of services that offer them the ability to put their identity online as don’t feel the need to express themselves by participating in online culture in the same manner as a Resident.

In effect the Resident has a presence online which they are constantly developing while the Visitor logs on, performs a specific task and then logs off.

This is of course not a polar distinction. There is a spectrum of which the Resident and the Visitor represent two extremes (Watch this space for a couple of possible sub-categories). It is a useful distinction because it is not based on gender or age. While our data would indicate that the portion of the population over 55 is predominantly made up of Visitors there are examples of Residents in this section of the demographic. Similarly it is the case that not everyone younger than 25 is a Resident.

It is not always easy to spot who is in each category as the level of sophistication with which a Visitor might use any single service might well be greater than that of a Resident. Again, this is not a skill based distinction. In fact I know of at least one ed-tech researcher who considers himself to be a Visitor out of choice.

The Resident is likely to have arranged some sort of system to manage the relationship between services and the flow of information through their browser but this does not mean that they will be any more effective at researching a specific topic than a Visitor. This is why data from a survey that simply asks what online services a group of students use is next to useless.

This Visitor, Resident distinction is useful when considering which technologies to provide for online learners. For example if your learners are mainly Visitors they are unlikely to take advantage of any feed based system for aggregated information you may put in place. They are also unlikely to blog or comment as part of a course. The Resident will expect to have the opportunity to offer opinions on topics and to socialise around a programme of study. In fact they are likely to find ways of doing this even if they are not ‘officially’ provided. We offered membership of a facebook group to our students as they left their online courses. The majority signed-up without question as they wanted to stay in touch with fellow students and continue discussions. The remainder saw the group as pointless and a possible invasion of privacy. Both sides of this argument are correct… It’s a question of approach and motivation, hence Visitors and Residents.

Some of you might also be interested in our paper on Visitors and Residents:

Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement
by David S. White and Alison Le Cornu.
First Monday, Volume 16, Number 9 – 5 September 2011
http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/3171/3049


77 thoughts on “Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’

  1. [...] Andy Paul of e-foundations for pointing me towards Dave White’s piece on online user types, Not &#... yadayada20.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/digital-natives-and-immigrants-vs-natives-and-visitors
  2. [...] of users of the ‘net. Instead of ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ they believe the terms ‘Vi... blog.ecorrado.us/2008/09/18/digital-residents-visitors
  3. [...] which looks at how students are using the technologies, not at what they are using. The post “Not ... connectinglibrarian.com/2008/09/23/digital-natives-or-visitors
  4. [...] TALL blog » Blog Archive » Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Re... ... brent.wordpress.com/2008/09/26/new-term-better-term-for-online-users
  5. [...] TALL blog » Blog Archive » Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Re... ... brentmack.edublogs.org/2008/09/26/new-term-better-term-for-online-users
  6. [...] Sellart reseña una entrada muy interesante de Dave White en la que nos invita a considerar los término... vidadigital.net/blog/2008/09/28/%c2%bferes-un-residente-o-un-visitante-ideal
  7. [...] Sellart reseña una entrada muy interesante de Dave White en la que nos invita a considerar los término... literaturame.net/Noticiario/2008/09/28/%c2%bferes-un-residente-o-un-visitante-ideal
  8. [...] much better way (if you have to do it) to separate users, Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ... i.never.nu/visitors-and-residents
  9. [...] it was quite refreshing to read on Dave White’s blog a post about residents or visitors to the onl... elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/are-you-a-resident-or-a-visitor
  10. [...] Than Digital Native.“  Dean was building off a post made by Dave White back in July - “Not ... bwatwood.edublogs.org/2008/10/01/not-net-gen-oh-no
  11. [...] across an interesting blog post today from David White. He suggests that residents and visitors might be... lizit.me.uk/2008/12/01/terminology
  12. [...] the digital immigrants debate we hear so much of. I won’t rehash his post, which you can read here... julian.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2009/09/30/natives-immigrants-visitors-or-residents
  13. [...] problem with the move from Prensky (digital immigrants/natives) to White (residents/visitors)  is the c... suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2009/10/05/excluded
  14. [...] minority internet “residents” the majority are at best “visitors” (see our isthm... tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2009/10/05/hurrah-for-repeat-students
  15. [...] residents and digital visitors Posted on October 9, 2009 by Tim Over at TALL blog (part of the U... seriousgameplan.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/digital-residents-and-digital-visitors
  16. [...] hält. Und dann die Teilnehmer … die Teilnehmer! Die Seminarteilnehmer, allesamt nicht gerade Web-Resi... joeran.de/mit-toller-seminargruppe-auf-zeitreise
  17. [...] month I gave a presentation on the ‘Visitors & Residents’ principle at the ALT-C conference whic... tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2009/10/14/visitors-residents-the-video
  18. [...] year we discussed the concept coined by Dave White of Visitors and Residents and how this relates to how... elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/visitors-and-residents
  19. [...] 25, 2009 by jennymackness David White’s description of the way in which people use the internet... jennymackness.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/visitors-and-residents
  20. [...] innoissani: olen löytänyt ihmisen joka auttaa ymmärtämään paikkani webissä, olen löytänyt jäse... heli.edublogs.org/2009/11/04/asukkaana-ja-vierailijana-webissa
  21. [...] greatly enjoy the definings of residents or visitors in the web, given by TALL blog (Online education wi... helistudies.edublogs.org/2009/11/04/resident-and-visitor
  22. [...] JISC research into how people use online services has started to focus on the distinction between ‘vi... blogs.semantico.com/discovery-blog/2009/11/the-challenge-of-online-identity
  23. [...] and Digital Immigrants has been questioned with Dave White suggesting the need to consider “Not ... ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/web-2-0-will-change-everything-but-how
  24. [...] from the Net Gen skeptic site and explore the associated article. Digital Visitors & Residents (read... hackit.digress.it/hack-i
  25. [...] http://tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/ [...... eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/346
  26. [...] people may question why it is still advancing the digital natives thesis, when the nomenclature of digit... freedomains.org.ru/arts-appreciate/digital-nations-or-virtual-revolutions.html
  27. [...] mas útil que la definida (nativo-inmigrante[digitales]) definida por una fecha de nacimiento. Como Dave... jaimeroca.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/opino-lo-mismo
  28. [...] different paradigm discusses digital media and technology in terms of residents and visitors, rather tha... highered.prblogs.org/2010/01/26/nativesimmigrants-vs-residentsvisitors
  29. [...] White has also given the terminology Digital Natives and Digital Immigrant a great deal of study. Click... dawnelai.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/digital-natives
  30. [...] their real community is online, the virtual world where they reside at least for some of each day (White... mandyg.edublogs.org/2010/03/26/if-its-in-the-economist
  31. [...] Dave White’s blog a post about residents or visitors to the online world. [...]... elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/e-learning-stuff-podcast-018-digital-literates
  32. [...] White, D. (July 23, 2008) Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors&#... jusayin.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/digital-age-as-in-too-old-to-text
  33. [...] reviewing the readings for this week (Prensky on Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants and the TALL blog a... lancer.edublogs.org/2010/04/14/digital-illegal-alien
  34. [...] when Prensky first coined the term, and then throughout the next few years as people including the TALL ... boora.ca/blog/?p=3599
  35. [...] ‘Natives’ and ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’’ (available online at: http:... mobilereview.jiscpress.org/155
  36. [...] And we’re becoming residents of the digital world.  We’ve definitely embraced the visitor/r... bookhenge.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/guided-by-theory-first-class-in-bookhenge
  37. [...] on February 10, 2011 by marieucpdwep I was very taken by the concepts of visitors and residents. Dave ... marieucpdwep.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/the-visitors-residents-principle-in-relation-to-organisations
  38. [...] yliopiston tuottaman jaottelun opiskelijoiden eroista. Dave White esittelee tuloksen videolla ja TALL bo... heli.edublogs.org/2011/02/22/suomalaiset-verkoissa
  39. [...] Dave Whites blog he suggests that rather than anyone being a native user of technology they are either v... ninelocks.com/blog/?p=208
  40. [...] my radar. Dave put forward a new way of categorising people who use the web, splitting them between R... digitalbydefault.com/2011/04/11/not-a-digital-native
  41. [...] Finally, David White (University of Oxford) has proposed his own alternative theory – the Resident... elearnpost.com/?p=501
  42. [...] his work in continuing education in the University of Oxford has described his online students as Digita... ucdblogs.org/mediaservices/?p=1096
  43. [...] the Visitors and Residents idea is discussed it is often with the implication that becoming more Residen... tallblog.conted.ox.ac.uk/index.php/2011/08/15/the-cost-of-residency
  44. [...] Tall Blog: Online Education with the University of Oxford. (2008). Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants... dansweb20blog.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/digital-nativesimmigrants-vs-residentsvisitors
  45. [...] This post was Twitted by davecormier [...]... real-url.org/twitted.php?id=10794857389
  46. [...] Vollständigkeit halber weise ich hier auf eine etwas andere Unterteilung von David White hin, in Digita... olivertacke.de/2011/09/04/professionelle-intelligenz
  47. [...] benefits I’ve found from slow teaching is that my students have a chance to experience what Dave W... virtuallyfoolproof.com/?p=395
  48. [...] Marc Prensky a David White passant per les reflexions i conclusions del IV Congrés de la [...]... alexarabat.adimena.net/2011/10/03/tres-punts-de-vista-sobre-la-divisoria-digital
  49. [...] com la de Marc Prensky, sobre nadius i immigrants digitals, definicions més actuals com la de David S. ... alexarabat.adimena.net/2011/10/20/el-9688-dels-estudiants-estan-en-alguna-xarxa-social
  50. [...] has developed the concept of Visitors and Residents as a counterpoint to the frequently discounted Nat... danegeld.dk/2011/08/15/nstalks-on-participation-and-bad-networks
  51. Trackback: wms affiliate
    wms affiliate... [...]TALL blog » Blog Archive » Not ‘Natives’ &... priteshwani.com/wms-affiliate
  52. [...] Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’ [online] http://tallb... blogs.plymuniprimary.com/2012/01/29/digital-immigrants-and-digital-natives-vs-visitors-and-residents

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