Digital Visitors and Residents – revising

In a 2011-2013 joint project of Oxford University and OCLC Research, funded by JISC, the researchers (primarily David White, Alison La Cornu and Donna M. Lancos) set out to gain a deeper understanding of:

  • what motivates users to engage with specific aspects of the information environment in a given context;
  • understanding the complex context that surrounds individual engagement with digital resources, spaces and tools;
  • how they acquire information and why they make the choices they do (JISC Guide, p.1-2).

During the project the V&R continuum was developed to map individual and group engagement with digital technology for learning in an attempt to develop better approaches to and understanding of online behaviour.

Visitors use the Internet as a tool to accomplish a task or have a “need” to be find information or use a tool. They do not set out to leave a trace – entering and exiting without actively leaving a trace of their presence or use and not contributing.

Resident users maintain an online persona, and “live” a part of their lives online, often through contributions to social media networks, blogs and uploading images and other digital artefacts. “The web has become a crucial aspect of how they present themselves and how they remain part of networks of friends or colleagues.” (Tallblog).

Visitor and Resident characterisations represent two extremes on a spectrum/continuum of online behaviour. The continuum provides a simplistic way to describe a wide range of online engagements as well as a useful way to understand motivations in different contexts. When this linear continuum is plotted on a two-axis system with another variable – for example professional and personal use – the schematic mapping provides insight into a user’s online engagement.

The initial ideas were put forward in a post on the TALL blog about Online Education at Oxford and was reported to the academic community in an article in First Monday.

Here are links to other sources relevant to the project:

In their research quantitative evaluation tools such as surveys and compiled statistics were used but found to create a “narrow picture of performance”. They then further employed qualitative research methods (diaries and interviews) to gain insights into the “how” and “why” of user engagement with technology. For the INF537 research project I plan to investigate another angle: by using autoethnography methods, I will add a personal touch when using the V&R framework to gather and analyse data and map my online behaviour. Through this investigation I hope to gain insight into how and why and my online behaviour has changed during the two years of my Med KN&DI studies. I predict a shift towards the Resident behaviour pattern and believe that this will be explainable in terms of my increased understanding of and commitment to connected open learning practices.

I first blogged about Visitors or Residents in an online world in June 2017 and undertook to return to this at a later date – as promised, I am back now…