All participants of the curriculum innovation module UOSM 2008: Living and Working on the Web were asked to consider and explain the concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ drawing upon our own online experiences to date. Each student posted their thoughts and findings on their respective blog, these posts were then aggregated into the main University administered blog and discussion between students ensued.
My initial thoughts on the theory of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ can be found here in full. However, to summarise: for me, the concept seemed an extremely useful and adept way of analysing peoples’ online activity, an improvement on Prensky’s earlier (2001) theory of digital ‘immigrants’ and ‘natives’, although I believed it would be strengthened by further development of a scale between the two polarised terms.
Subsequently, and through the process of reading other students’ contributions via their blogs and entering an online discussion, it has caused me to reflect and revise some of my initial thoughts.
I was introduced to Christensen’s theory of ‘disruptive innovation’ and how this has enabled accessibility and widespread integration of technology into our everyday lives as it has become more and more affordable. This left me feeling that digital ‘residency’ was inevitable owing to increased access to and integration of the digital world.
Additionally, I think I would have benefited from being more analytical and critical of White’s digital ‘visitor’ and ‘resident’ theory. I should have questioned the limited scope of White & Le Cornu’s research which is perhaps too geared to or focused on ‘academics/scholars’ internet usage alone.
To conclude, I maintain that the digital ‘visitor’ and ‘resident’ theory is an improvement on Prensky’s (2001) earlier concept of digital ‘immigrant’ and ‘native’, most notably because it is not as reductive as it is not based on gender, age or skill level but on a mapping of our online behaviour. But this practice of mapping online behaviour needs to be opened up and extended beyond the academic realm.
Prensky, Marc, ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’, from On the Horizon, Vol. 9, No. 5, (MCB University Press, October, 2001)
White, David S., & Alison Le Cornu, ‘Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement’ in First Monday, Volume 16, Number 9 – 5 September 2011