Digital Proficiency – Examining Residents and Visitors

Understanding digital literacy is an increasingly important skill as we are more and more dependant upon utilising the internet for professional and social reasons. Through a high level of Digital Literacy – synonymous with being a ‘Digital Resident’, we are empowered with higher social presence allowing for online activities within communities, or engagement thus facilitating networked learning. This stands in stark comparison to the concept of a  Digital Visitor – someone whom approaches the web with a very compartmentalised mindset – go online to accomplish 1 specific task before then going offline again. It is important to consider A Digital Resident and a Digital Visitor as two points on a spectrum; and that in different situations an individual can move between the two.

As Digital Residency increases, as does empowerment

The Digital Literacy Self Test was a really interesting opportunity to examine the extent to which I am a Digital Resident. Through the framework provided I identified my current weakest area (where I am closest to being a digital visitor) is in the online participation of a community. Whilst I do frequent several communities I tend to take the role of an ‘observer’ or a ‘lurker’. On the other side of the spectrum, my best area is that of Online Identity. Indeed, alongside a fellow web science student Tom Davidson, I deliver a session to first-year students allowing them to explore and manage their own online identity. You can find the presentation here:

Despite having a relatively high level of Digital Engagement at this current moment in time, I am excited to be able to develop this further through the UOSM2008 module. There is much potential for growth in terms of digital literacy, and I look forward to developing my position as a digital resident.



Visitors & Residents



11 thoughts to “Digital Proficiency – Examining Residents and Visitors”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I really enjoyed reading for views on the digital visitor/resident debate, and agree with your view that digital literacy is increasingly important – especially with employers checking social media profiles before employing.

    I was intrigued especially by your figure which correlates digital residency with ’empowerment’. Whilst I feel that the ability to network in groups online, in spite of location, age, gender, can be empowering, I am fearful of being too resident. Being a resident to that degree could have detrimental effects on your non-digital life, and in an era where research consistently highlights problems with technological addiction [1], do you not feel true empowerment is nearer the middle of a visitor and a resident?


    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your thoughts here. Digital literacy is a topic I feel strongly about and as so we need to consider how we can factor it into education. I think it is interesting that you feel it is possible to be ‘too much a resident’ – I do not think that through engaging more online it will lead to any negative effects offline and there is no advocation of severing any non-digital ties. Indeed, better use of digital technology is surely a good thing as we will build relationships online which can then be translated to the offline world! Therefore true empowerment occurs when we can use digital literacy to network online across societal divisions.



  2. Apologies, forgot my reference.
    [1] Radiological Society of North America. “Smartphone addiction creates imbalance in brain, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2017. .


  3. Hi Tom,
    I really enjoyed reading the slides from the lecture that you give to first years, was wondering if you could post the link that is on the slide about online identity and how information could be gathered about me online as I couldn’t click it in the power point and think it would be interesting to watch.

    The lecture that you gave seemed really interesting and I always think that it is quite scary when you find out what the internet knows about you without you knowing it… I was wondering if you think it is possible to be a resident on some online applications without meaning to be? For example, on google maps I would have said I was a visitor, only using it and didn’t think I was leaving a trace, however your PowerPoint says that it tracks my location history, meaning I’m leaving a trace making me more of a resident? How do you think White’s theory could explain this?

    1. Hi Chloe,

      Im glad you enjoyed! Here is the link: it is an interesting video. I totally agree it can be a cause for concern when we realise the extent to which our moves online are tracked and analysed in detail. You raise an interesting point here. I think that resident implies active use on a personal level – so that you have to be engaged and gain positive outcomes with the application. The trace you leave regardless of your status as a visitor or otherwise so I would say that it is not necessarily an impact.

  4. Hi Tom,
    I thought your blog post was very interesting – found it humorous to compare yourself to a ‘lurker’, but I also found from the self-test that I was weaker in digital communities also.
    It was great to go through your presentation, and I think you presenting that is really empowering, as you mention, not only for the first-year students, but to you and Tom too, to share your expertise in this area.
    You didn’t mention Digital Immigrants or Digital Natives in your blog post. Is that because, for you, Prensky’s work was under too much criticism that could be answered by Residents & Visitors – with the web being a ‘tool’ or a ‘space’ to different people? Also, being in the position you are already in, how are you going to develop your position as a digital resident and what are you most excited about as we go through #UOSM2008?
    Thanks, Adam.

    1. Hi Adam,

      Thanks for your reply! The concept of a lurker can be an odd one but in general, it can be too easy to look at an online community without any engagement yourself – I agree with you that in terms of the self-test it can be the most challenging. Being able to deliver content in this area is certainly empowering!
      I tried to avoid it as I have some issues with Prensky’s model – it isn’t the best way of considering our activities online. The concept of the web as a space is really interesting and needs to be explored more, especially as the impact space has on learning is so significant. I’m excited to develop a presence in online communities as a result of UOSM2008!

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