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…

Academic honesty at (our) school

Our school takes a very serious stance on academic honesty, as is required by the International Baccalaureate whose programmes we offer. One of the standards (C3) common to all IB programmes state the requirement that “teaching and learning promotes the understanding and practice of academic honesty.” IB Learners strive to be knowledgeable, principled thinkers and inquirers, after all. It is part of our practise: teaching students to be critical users of information and to think about the authority and intent of the creators of the information, and to always give credit to other people’s ideas and work through referencing and citation. Right?

We have a solid academic honesty policy that ensures our procedures are “transparent, fair and consistent”. We all understand our rights and responsibilities and “what constitutes good practice, and misconduct, and what actions are to be taken if there are transgressions” as we read in the Academic Honesty in the IB educational context. Our teachers and students sign an agreement to show that they will adhere to the requirements of this policy. Great. We submit every piece of major work handed in by our DP students to Turnitin to check for academic honesty infringements.

We regularly have “digital citizenship” sessions as part of our Personal Development Program – at least twice a year. When the problem arises, we deal with cyberbullying and inappropriate online behaviour without hesitation, consistently and sternly.

Outside of the strictly academic arena we also do what we can: A collaborative effort between the school administration, performing arts department, school library and SUISA (Cooperative Society of Music Authors and Publishers in Switzerland) ensured that our school is in compliance with Swiss copyright law and the organisation will be doing a presentation on the topic to our middle school students soon.

But here is the thing: This digital information explosion has created an information environment where we stumble over so much information, in so many digital formats that we do not even notice how and when we trip, and sometimes fall.

image by mohamed_hassan, downloaded from pixabay

  • It is really difficult to always stay honest in a digital world where you if you “steal” that image you found on Google that is perfect for your presentation, because by using it you did not take anything away from anyone, did you?
  • It is difficult not to cheat when it is so easy to pay someone (or get your mom) to write an essay for you when you just are not coping with your workload, you will do all the other assignments yourself, won’t you?
  • When English is still so very difficult, and you struggle to say what you mean, and you find the perfect information in your mother tongue and push it through Google translate – that surely is your own work now, you have added knowledge and re-mixed content, haven’t you?
  • And then there is this strange thing that the law in some countries say it is illegal to download or stream movies and here is Switzerland uploading is wrong, but downloading? No problem!

The digital information environment and the over-abundance of information has created serious problems and inconsistencies in ethical behaviour. To our students the Internet seems like a place where “everything goes” and our requirements in school are very inconvenient.  Academic honesty does NOT seem to be instinctive behaviour to the so called digital natives we teach. If we – teachers, parents and society – do not consistently model and teach ethical behaviour, this will remain an issue, because our students will do what we do, not what we say.

The digital age and possibilities for re-imagining our educational system

The convergence of computing, information and communication technologies into one device, affordable and usable by most, has resulted in the development of a transformed information-rich world. With these mobile devices, we became nodes points in a global information ecosystem, socially connected in interactive knowledge environments that transcend the restrictions of our physical world.

Almost every aspect of our personal, professional and societal lives has been transformed by the tools and products of this digital age. Two important examples should be emphasised:

• New participatory media formats use web-based technologies to enable recipients of information messages to be active participants in knowledge creation. Interactive platforms allow experts and voxpop voices to join, in creating, discussing and distributing user-generated information products in many formats.

• Cloud computing makes improved productivity and knowledge building possible through immediate communication channels and tools for collaboration. These improved data storage facilities make digitisation of our collective societal knowledge and cultural heritage possible in online digital repositories.

The new digital age is having a significant impact on the learning environment: on when, where and how we learn. Multi-formatted online resources and participatory media enables self-directed, self-paced, individualised, personal and differentiated authentic learning. The role of teachers is changing from deliverers of content to creators of context (Thomas, 2012). The classroom, where learning was traditionally initiated by teachers, has expanded beyond walls, lectures and textbooks and can become truly learner-centred. Connected learning provides an existing model that makes use of the products of the digital age to re-imagine our traditional education system.

While some educators suggests that the students of today are intuitive and “native” users of new media formats and tools, we need to better understand the competencies and proficiencies that are required of learners to be literate in this digital age.

What now is the role of school libraries in this digital age? Libraries should support learning where and when it takes place. This means a dynamic, physical learning space and an equally well-designed virtual space, where librarians meet the information needs of teachers and students through curation of digital resources and tools and help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. How we will get there… THIS is the challenge that I hope to meet through my studies!

A VERY critical reflection on what I have learnt this far:

I am fascinated by the reading provided for Module 1. While the content was not new, I was challenged by so many of the authors to imagine how this digital world can transform our educational institutions and our thinking about learning. I am inspired, but that is the positive side…

It took far too long to read and grasp the required reading. I hope that as I become more familiar with the concepts and academic writing again, that I will be more efficient.

I have not participating in the online discussions yet, because the reading and setting up of the blog took too much time (I will do so this week). I believe as I find my voice I will be bolder, less worried about seeming ignorant and more comfortable with the tools we have been introduced to. I am very excited and in the right place, but still getting up to speed.


Thomas, D. (2012, September 12). A new culture of learning [Video file]. Retrieved from