Topic 1

Topic 1: Digital Residents and Digital Visitors

The idea of a societal divide between generations due to technology was originally broached by Prensky (2001) with his proposal of “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants”. The “Natives” represent users who have grown up immersed in technology and alternatively, the “Immigrants” represent the older generations experiencing this technology in later life. The Natives have developed a greater utilisation of technology and how to process it whereas the Immigrants can learn but keep their (“accent“) out dated tendencies from before the digital age (Prensky, 2001). This argument has been countered, as it relies on the generalisation of generations that all young students have the same access to technology and understanding of it (Margarvan and Littlejohn; White and Cornu, 2011) leading to the adapted idea of “Visitors” and “Residents(White and Cornu, 2011).

Here is a detailed explanation (White, 2014):

Visitors are people who use the internet as a tool, for example booking a holiday or researching, but don’t exist there. They tend not to put their identity online or participate in online culture; users will only go online given their need to. This is not a distinction due to skill or lack of, visitors are visitors by choice. They choose not to embed part of their social life online (TALL blog). The “accent” separating the generations (Prensky, 2001) is more about your ability to be independent learners, to critically think. It’s rather that than your technological background that divides the Visitors and Residents, not your generation. (Hopkins, 2012). The main difference is how people want to use the internet, not whether they can use it (Perskey, 2009). 

Oppositely, Residents embed part of their life online, mainly their social life where they can create and maintain an identity through social media (TALL blog). It has been described as a park, where all their contacts reside and are easy to communicate with (White and Cornu, 2011). Residents use the tools of the internet as well as participating in the social culture. It can be seen as a sliding scale from personal to professional. Here is my own mapping on the scale:

(white, 2016)

We can switch between Visitor and Resident mode depending on our context, for what area of our life we are utilising the internet for (White, 2015). It’s important to note that as shown in the mapping above it’s impossible to be able to decide a mode purely from a tools function, as everybody uses tools differently (Jisc, 2014).

I personally identify as a Resident; I use facebook, twitter and instagram to maintain an online profile as well as using it as a tool for University.


Word count: 400

Harris, L., Warren, L., Leah, J. and Ashleigh, M. (2010) Small steps across the chasm: ideas for embedding a culture of open education in the university sector [Accessed 8 February 2017]

Hopkins, David (2012) The New Digital Divide #edtech #eLearning, [Accessed 8 February 2017]

Jisc (2014), Evaluating digital services: a visitors and residents approach, [Accessed 8 February 2017]

Prensky, M., (2009). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom [Accessed 8 February 2017]

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9)[Accesses 8 February 2017]

White, D., & Cornu, A. L. (2008). Tall blog. [Accessed 8 February 2017]

White, David, (2014). Visitors and Residents. Video. University of Oxford: Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017]

White, David (2015) Visitors and Residents, [Accessed 8 February 2017]

White, David (2016) Visitors & Residents – navigate the mapping,  [Accessed 9 February]


12 thoughts on “Topic 1: Digital Residents and Digital Visitors”

  1. Hi Emily,

    Well done on your first post! I enjoyed reading your views on the digital visitor/resident debate. I particularly like the figure you created that maps your own digital engagement on both the visitor/resident continuum and the personal/institutional continuum. Seeing this visually definitely enhanced my understanding of the theory.

    In your final paragraph, you conclude that you are a digital resident. However, I can’t help but notice that your mapping of ‘visitor use’ and ‘resident use’ is relatively balanced. Do you think that perhaps your visitor/resident status falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, rather than identifying fully as a digital resident? Or do you think ‘visitor’ and ‘resident’ constructs should be seen as more flexible, in that we might adopt visitor and resident ‘modes’ that we can switch between almost instantaneously? Let me know your thoughts!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patricia!
      Thank you for reading my blog post and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for your feedback it is much appreciated. I’m glad that I was able to aid your understanding with my visual images!
      In reply to your question, I agree that my mapping does tend to show that I am quite balanced between Visitor and Resident. However, I would have to say I believe that we have different modes depending on the context of the situation. I identify more as a resident because personally I use my Resident mode on a daily basis where as I use my visitor mode far less frequently, and only when I have the need to. I hope that helps clear up the differences in my mapping and statement! I would of included this if I had more space in my word count.
      Thank you again for your feedback,


  2. Hi Emily! I found your blog to be very insightful and informative. I really liked the use of the bold font on all the key words which made your points very easy to follow. In addition, I thought your personal mapping was really good as you provided cases/explanations about each online tool. One point of constructive criticism would be to just check for typos. But, I do also agree with your point that we can change between residents and visitors and aren’t set solely to one. I look forward to keeping up with your blogs in the coming weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jordan!
      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! I’m glad the layout was effective in helping highlight the key points of my argument. Thank you for your critique, I was too keen to upload my blog post and forgot to do a final spell check. It’s nice to know that my mapping was of use!
      Thank you for your comment, and I look forward to keeping up with your posts too!

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. The distinction that you made between visitors and residents was very clear, indicating that there is no one polar opposite and that depending on what the internet is being used for, you can switch between the two. Additionally, drawing upon Prensky’s original theorem and critising it throughout your post helps to promote the idea that your generation, or age, does not dictate whether you can use the internet or not.

    I did not consider the point that you had made about all ‘young’ people having the same access to technology. With this in mind, it reinforces the initial assumptions made by Prensky and how they focused on the wrong aspect of why or how people use the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Oliver,
      Thank you for reading my blog post I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s nice to hear that it helped you consider points that you hadn’t previously thought about. Thank you for your feedback, it’s good to know that my critique of Pensky helps you to follow the argument.
      I appreciate you taking the time to comment!


    2. Thanks so much! Yes I just started not long ago but please check back, I will be trying to make updates often. I also plan to post a floorplan and 3D model of my own condo to show how I use my small space. I agree that you do;#182&7nt have sacrifice luxury! Cheers!


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