“I have just signed up to do an online course and I am excited to be there. But I have little experience with online courses and it feels really challenging to get started to connect and find my way with all these new sites and tools. I guess that other participants will be more experienced than me and I feel stupid asking about things. We are asked to create a Learning blog on the web; it feels a bit scary to do this. I do share things on Facebook with friends, but here, in the open? I want to keep my private life separate from my professional life. But on the other hand, my students seem to share and discuss all sorts of things on social media and use all kinds of tools and resources.”

The scene for this chapter of my ONL journey was set by the above-mentioned scenario. It set the scene quite close to home as I could relate to many aspects of it. Here I am, joining an online course that requires that I write a reflective blog. As stated in the scenario, “it feels a bit scary to do this”. But why? And, if I ask my students to use this tool, would they find it intimidating too?

We were introduced to an established gentleman, David White, who has dedicated a lot of research to his interest in the implications and opportunities of digital for learning, work and society. He proposed two modes of digital engagement: Visitor and Residents. Which one you are depends on the context of your engagement with a specific platform (White. 2014). I’ll break it down in a simple way:


Selects a digital tool from the vast toolbox on the web, uses that tool and leaves. They leave behind no social trace.


Chooses to go online to engage and interact and be present with people. They leave a lasting trace.

We might have thought initially that, with the students being younger millennials and Gen Zs (also referred to as Zoomers), that they would immediately be comfortable with the new online learning platforms and structures that was established due to Covid. They spend most of their free time in front of a screen and engaging on social media, so surely they will easily adapt to this new digital way of approaching education. I found this assumption to be very misled as I have many students struggling to find their feet; some even still fighting against it. Turns out they weren’t the universal residents after all.

As David White stated in his research, revealing personal reasonings and opinions to others in public platforms (such as a blog) can be daunting. Especially when it opens one up to criticism (White. 2013). But… our students do that on social media all the time. We are forever exposed to people’s opinions about series and food and movies and fashion and politics, ect. Surely these publically posted thoughts and opinions on social media are open for criticism too. We know it is. So why does it become so much more challenging when we are sharing thoughts related to education?

There’s a long way between the safety of the classroom and the open vastness of the web. Learning is an intricate process that can make us feel vulnerable (White. 1024). Perhaps students behave like residents on their chosen social media because those are the platforms that they choose to be vulnerable on. The new educational platforms have taken them out of their local safe classroom environment and hurled them into a bigger, unknown national classroom. Delivery of information changed, resources changed, their digital identities and personas are forced to evolve as they are so intrinsically linked to our digital activities.

Joining ONL did the same to me. So, if I find it daunting to make the move from visitor to residents regarding engagement with new digital education environments and tools, I have to assume that the same goes for my students. Regardless of generation. If I don’t feel comfortable to blog and to “think out loud” about my education, how can I expect them to be?

So why this hesitancy to blog?

What might make the visitor uncomfortable about blogging is the belief that the web is a place for completed thoughts. The web is where we go for facts and sound information after all. So why would we share our inner dialogues on a topic that are not quite finished, polished and conclusive ideas? Wouldn’t these incomplete thoughts just become digital litter? I, and I’m sure many of my fellow ONL participants and our students, find myself asking: Who am I to make a permanent mark on this digital space? What value would I add?

Here I’d like to propose considering the web as a place for discourse and moving ideas forward in a collaborative fashion. Think of the web as a place for collaboratively polishing ideas and thoughts. Think of the web as a community; not one out to find all the faults in our thoughts, that expects us to reinvent the wheel with every post or that questions our value in the digital space, but as one that can help you grow, evolve and ease into engaging with our education in new ways.


White, D., 2014. Visitors and Residents. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2021].

White, D., 2014. Visitors and Residents: Credibility. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2021].

Battling to blog