Digital residents and digital visitors

Over at TALL blog (part of the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education) there’s a great article discussing different categorisations of online users. In recent years, online users have been typified as Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, to distinguish those who grew up using online systems and latecomers more used to traditional systems. The TALL blog article argues that their students can be more usefully broadly categorised as Digital Visitors and Digital Residents, relating to the extent of the user’s profile and social life that is conducted online:

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.

The article goes on to suggest how this categorization can inform online learning tools:

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.

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