Visitor/resident – some further thoughts

I can’t make up my mind whether I’m a visitor or resident. As Dave White says in his presentation its not a dichotomy – but rather a duality (which is very much Wenger’s approach to communities of practice). In his presentation Dave makes some comments that I have been thinking about:

Visitors leave no trace – my feeling is that this is not possible. Maybe they hope to leave no trace. I can see that they could leave an absolutely minimal trace, but not no trace. It’s a bit like when someone briefly enters a meeting and leaves quickly – their leaving and absence still affects the meeting. In relation to this, I believe that ‘lurkers’ can affect what is going on through their absence.

Visitors worry about identity theft – I would say that visitors might worry about identity full stop, particularly if the visitors are novices. In fact isn’t it possible that visitors may be visitors not by choice but because they are novices in the online environment.

Residents try to keep visible by continually feeding the machine – have residents subjected themselves to the ‘tyranny of participation?’

Remaining visible is important for residents – Why? What is in it for them, particularly if a lot of what they post is banal? Isn’t being perceived of as banal counterproductive?

The word ‘nebulous’ can be used to describe residents – Dave didn’t talk about this and I’m not sure what this means.

A resident is less likely to have their own blog – this seems to contradict the research that John, Roy and I did where we equated residency (we called this a ‘home’) to a blog. This brings up the complexity of the way in which we use language and metaphors to describe the way in which people learn and interact online.

The visitor is no more or less technically adept than the resident – this depends on whether the visitor is a visitor by choice

Visitors take an individual approach to working online – I don’t see an individual approach or autonomy as the preserve of visitors. The question of autonomy is complex and not easy to understand or unpick.

Lots to think about. I’m looking forward to the session tonight – Elluminate Conference

Are you a visitor or a resident in the online environment?

I am posting this invitation on behalf of Roy Williams, Dave White, Sui Fai John Mak and Gus Goncalves.

Please join us

You are invited to join us in the Elluminate conference on Wednesday 4th November at 20:00 GMT to discuss the title question with Dave White from Oxford University.

The Link for the conference is: Elluminate Conference

You can also find it in the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK09) course.

We will be holding a conversation about Dave White’s vandr (visitors and residents) model. We are all trying to understand the new networked learning media, as users, but also as academics, teachers, trainers, and researchers. So we need frameworks to describe what’s going on, and that’s what this conference is all about: none of us has the final answers, and I guess most of us find networked learning is so interesting precisely because there are no final answers.

We have asked Dave to take us through an overview of some of the key points of his model. Then we will get some feedback on how you see yourself, in terms of his model. After that we will ask Dave to take us into more of the detail. Interruptions are welcome.


We have set up a twitter site (vandrcck09) where you can add additional comments, outside the chat channel in Elluminate. We are trying to make space for more substantial responses to the conversation in Elluminate, and it looks like the only way to do so is to write a longer comment in a forum post, or blog, and then post a tweet in ‘vandrcc09’, which includes a link to your blog or the forum. We’ll see if it works.

Models and Resources

Please feel free to use the vandr twitter site, from now on, to post ideas and links to aspects of the vandr model, or any other models and research, that you find useful to describe what goes on in networked learning.

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.