Topic 1

Topic 1: Digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’

Prensky’s original concept of Digital ‘Natives’ and ‘Immigrants’ expresses the proficiency of one’s online capabilities with the main contributor being age (Prensky, 2001). In his article, Prensky explains that those who were born at the cusp of technological advances and grew up with technology are more adept in using it, referred to as ‘Natives’. The ‘Immigrants’ therefore are those who had grown up before the rise of; the internet, e-mail and social networks, and as a result have had to adapt to a new language.

As time progresses our online presence is becoming a big part of our personal and professional lives and the assumptions of Prensky are being questioned. Thus the advent of a newer, more relevant classification. Digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’. What does this mean exactly? Well here is how it works in practice.

I have taken the liberty to illustrate this with my own experiences and online profiles:


What it means to be a visitor

Essentially we classify people as digital visitors if their internet use is focused and organised (White, 2008). This means that someone is using the internet for a specific purpose and once satisfied, they log off and rejoin the real world. Such activities, as shown above, include; checking e-mails, google searches and YouTube.

What it means to be a resident

Being a resident is slightly different. A good way to think about it would be like an online extension of yourself, and much like yourself, you need looking after. Here, people spend a part of their life online in order to contact friends or family and even become visible in the professional world. Residents therefore do not just use the internet to find information, they also express themselves and socialise while online.

Below, Professor David White of Oxford University further explains the concept of digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ and the differences between the two:

So anyone can be competent with technology, contradictory to Prensky’s original hypothesis, which has seen much criticism, Prensky included (Prensky, 2009). The main difference is how people want to use the internet, rather than whether they can use it at all.

How we use the internet and whether we want to be a ‘visitor’ or ‘resident’ is completely up to us. However, there are benefits to being proactive online with regards to education, so engage and make the most of it.


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 6 February 2017]

Prensky, M., (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [Accessed 6 February 2017]

Prensky, M., (2009). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom [Accessed 6 February 2017]

White, D., & Cornu, A. L. (2008). Tall blog. [Accessed 6 February 2017]

White, D., (2014). Visitors and Residents. Video. University of Oxford: Available from: [Accessed 6 February 2017]

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9). [Accessed on 6 February 2017]


Introduction to this blog

Hi there. My name is Ollie Locke, not the one from Made in Chelsea would you believe, and I study Economics at the University of Southampton. This blog was setup up as part of “Living and Working on the Web” a UOSM module at Southampton however I would like to continue on blogging in the future.

As part of the module we were asked to fill out a self assessment, shown below, to describe how much experience we had with certain aspects of having an online presence and network. The scale is from 1-5, 1 being no experience and 5 being proficient. The last two columns will be filled out and revisited at the end of the module to see how far I have progressed with my online capabilities and I am excited about the experience.

Rating at start of module Comments Rating at end of module Comments
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information 3 As part of university work assessing the reliability of sources is crucial along with searching for the right information.
Participating in online communities 1 I don’t usually follow along in online communities other than in facebook/whatsapp group messages.
Building online networks around an area of interest 2 I have put together a list of videos/links to easily find information I need on my interests, mainly youtube with a couple of different catergories and bbc good food.
Collaborating with others on shared projects 4 Collaborating with others is something I have had experience with; presentations, coursework, shows and meetings.
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video) 1 I have never made anything other than on paint but have not done anything with video editing or audio.
Managing your online identity 3 I try to keep everything either professional or not easily accessible for anyone just to flick through.
Managing your online privacy and security 4 Checking privacy settings and the security of sites is a top priority of mine so I am experienced in managing this.

Q1 Why did you choose the module?

I chose this module because it is a much different learning environment to what I am used to and to some degree even comfortable with. It is something new that I would like to experience.

Q2 What in particular do you want to learn from the module?

I mainly want to learn how to relay information online in a formal manner but not one that is as rigorous as academic papers. Possibly for the future but also for after university when I plan to travel and document my experiences in a way which is easy to access and follow.

Q3 Which degree programme are you studying?

I study Economics.

Q4 Have you studied online before?

I have studied online before in terms of seeking out information relating to a topic which has already been discussed or taught previously. However I have looked into new aspects since doing my dissertation and I hope we will do something like that in this course.