Friday, October 21, 2011

Are You a Visitor, or Do You Live Here?

"I come from the Batman era, adding items to my utility belt while students today are the Borg from Star Trek, assimilating technology into their lives." - David Tuss

"They are used to the immediacy of hypertext, downloaded music, phones in their pockets – which are on 24/7; a library on their laptops/computers, and connectivity anytime, anywhere. They’ve been networked most or all of their lives. Being always connected is something natural to them, and they have conversations constantly going with their social networks via text messaging and instant messaging." - Eva Windisch and Niclas Medman

I've just read the "Visitors and Residents" paper by David S. White and Alison Le Cornu. They're proposing an alternative to Prensky's Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. One reason this may be necessary - aside from the fact that Prensky's model has been under fire lately - is because the native-immigrant model pre-dated social media. Prensky's "natives" lived in the digital information world, whereas today's "residents" live in a digital world that combines infinite information with relationships, social and political networks, and new approaches to teaching and learning. Visitors "understand the Web as akin to an untidy garden shed" where they find tools, do a job, and return the tool once the job is over. Residents "see the Web as a place ... in which there are clusters of friends and colleagues whom they can approach and with whom they can share information about their life and work."

This video gives a good summary of the visitors/residents idea, and you can access  (and use) the Prezi presentation here. Though I'm not sure the name change is necessary, the new definitions and typology appeal to me. Our students tend to fall into "use it to do this" vs. "Welcome to my world" categories.

Katie Piatt has collected some data to support the visitor/resident dichotomy, using a questionnaire with her students that asks these questions:

  1. Do you have any online friends that you have never met face to face?
  2. How often do you update your Facebook status or post on Twitter each day?
  3. Do you ever feel like you are missing out because you've been offline for a long time?
  4. Have you ever Googled yourself?
The first question is aimed at discovering online relationships. The second is a measure of desire to leave records of one's persona online. The third question distinguishes between the "native" and the "resident" by pointing at the value of conversations and relationships - as opposed to mere information - online. The last question tries to indicate one's attachment to a digital identity.

The distinction might help explain students' approaches to your virtual classroom, and even your own approach. Do you miss online time with your students, chatting, sharing, laughing, networking? Are you inclined to force students to report what they're doing every day? Is the Web your home, or do you just come here to teach?
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