Visitors and residents

David White’s description of the way in which people use the internet as being like the behaviours of visitors or residents has captured my interest this week. A link to his blog and his video were posted in a CCK09 forum this week.  Roy in his post – Thursday, 22 October 2009, 05:29 AM – has suggested that there might also be a ‘traveller/gypsy’ mode. I probably have not understood this correctly – but I’m not sure that this is necessary. David White views visitors and residents at either end of a spectrum along which people can position themselves differently at different times and in different contexts.

The ‘resident’ description makes perfect sense to me;  it’s so easy to identify ‘residents’ amongst the people I know. I wonder what proportion of any given population you would expect to be residents. Would this be about 10% – a figure quoted by Nancy White as the percentage of people you might expect to be very active in an online course or community.

‘Visitor’ is also an interesting idea – but I’m not sure that I’ve got my head round exactly what visitor behaviour incorporates. In terms of online teaching and learning the ‘resident’ is probably easier to work with, because we can get a very good sense of the ‘resident’s’ personal learning environment. The visitor’s work is less transparent. I think we probably need to know more about how ‘visitors’ learn.

On Dave White’s blog a number of commenters have recalled Prensky’s ‘digital natives/digital immigrants’ description. I see Prensky’s and White’s descriptions as being on different issues. Prensky’s is more to do with technology and how technological skills affect behaviour and learning online, whereas White’s is more about attitudes and approaches to learning – personal learning organisation. In the latter the learner is more in control. For me this is interesting as I think it reflects the increasing shift away from focussing on technology towards online learner behaviours, attitudes and preferences.