Recently, I viewed Dr. Dave White’s presentation on the theory he developed Visitors/Residents in relation to digital presence. In this video, Dr. White shares with viewers his perspective on the well-discussed issue of digital presence within the education world. Dr. White’s principle came out of a survey of lifelong students at the university about their habits in terms of digital presence.
The theory that came out of this survey study at first appears to be a dichotomy; there are digital visitors and digital residents. Dr. White cautioned his viewers that the difference between these two groups is more subtle than previous theories of digital competency have been understood. Rather than thinking that capable technology use is based on age, Dr. White argues it’s based on user motivation in using that technology. The Visitor/Resident theory is a continuum and it pinpoints an individual’s comfort level and motivation with technology. The best analogy I found from Dr. White’s presentation to help understand this theory compares digital presence to a toolbox or a social space. The digital visitor is an individual who views technology as a tool from a toolbox to use and discard easily whereas the digital resident sees technology as a ‘space’ in which they can socialize (learn, communicate etc) just as they would do in a physical space.
A digital visitor is very capable of using technology. These individuals are goal focused; their tech use goes only so far as to accomplish a specific goal or task. After leaving the digital realm, the visitor will leave no trace of their previous presence. In contrast, the resident will enter a digital platform with the intent of leaving a persona online after they log off. The digital resident creates an identity that transfers over from their “real” physical presence and experience.
If I had to place myself on the continuum, I would argue that I am fairly divided. However, as I grow as an educator, I am growing towards becoming exclusively a resident. I have maintained a digital presence in my personal life for years through my use of social media. I have used Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others fairly consistently since creating a profile when I was introduced to them. My use of social media includes communication with others to maintain friendships across short (and not so short) distances and learning new info about topics I’m interested in. I also get the majority of my news over social media through following news organizations. In my personal digital presence, I upload photos, share updates on my life, and share opinions on various news stories. All of these happen through technology- meaning I use the web as a “space” to socialize. For my professional life, however, using digital tools was a new concept for me. For example, I had never thought about the implications of having a twitter dedicated my professional growth and connections. Thanks to the integration of digital literacy into my credential program, this is a major work in progress. I’m learning how to use social media, and technology in general, in ways to benefit my career and my growth as an educator, and most important of all- boost my students’ success. So, though my place on the continuum of visitor/resident in the digital space is split between my presence personally and professionally, I’m working on making that distance smaller because I see great value in being a digital resident.
If you’d like to watch Dr. White’s video, you can take a look here: Visitors/Residents video.
I'm a Teaching Credential Candidate at CSUSM working towards a credential in English and Social Studies/History. Here's where I'll share my thoughts on various articles and videos related to teaching as well as my experiences in the education world.