Reflections on Topic 1 for ONL212

Being born in 1973 I wasn’t exactly born straight into the digital world, neither was I brought up in it. But as a young adult (age of 23) I was thrown into it having to adapt to new technology in different settings being a student. So according to Prensky (2001) I am clearly a digital immigrant, always somehow with “one foot in the past”. Let’s agree to disagree there…OK I’m nostalgic about the past and things sometimes being better pre-technology and digitalization when people actually met, talked and looked each other in the eye. But in my opinion, I consider myself (nowadays) a digital native when it comes to embracing all the benefits that technology brings.

I remember my first distance learning course in the spring of 1996. At that time “distance” meant geographical distance. I studied German language at Umeå University and students travelled to Umeå one week per month to have intensive learning sessions. Distance also meant that in between the weeks we met, we had to send in texts, homework etc. We are talking about the 90s, which meant pressing play and rec on the tape recorder when sending in a presentation or using snail mail to send in your text analysis on the German novel you had just read. I remember one assignment in particular: write a reflection text about the future. Guess what I wrote about (?) “The Internet – a fad or here to stay” (Internet – ein Fimmel oder hier um zu bleiben). I remember writing about the phenomenon of shopping on the internet, losing the control of quality and not being able to feel/touch/smell what I was buying. Little did I know then.

Only a few months later, in the autumn of 1996, I went to London to study English and took the next step on my journey towards the digital world – I registered my first email address (Hotmail). Communication from “the other side” continued via snail mail or telephone: it didn’t matter that I had my first email address when the persons I wanted to communicate with had no idea what that was.

From 1996 onward I would say that my digital journey exploded and being a student during the years of 1996 – 2000 helped me to move from being a digital immigrant to becoming a digital native. The last year of my time as a student I spent in Austria at JKU in Linz, and at that point everything happened online: messenger, ICQ, emails, Napster. The only one who kept sending me long hand-written letters regularly during this year was my grandmother Alice – they are of course still kept in my memory box, and they were the ones who made me the most happy to receive.

Being a digital native, doesn’t necessarily mean that I am, what White & Le Cornu (2011) defines as a resident. From their point of view, I do classify myself as a visitor. I do not live, share, do or expose everything in my life online: “A proportion of their lives is actually lived out online where the distinction between online and off–line is increasingly blurred.” Or am I a resident in the sense that I use all the digital tools to do my work and communicate with my friends? Where is the line drawn from being a visitor and a resident?

One thing I do know is that when it comes to blogging I’m definitely a visitor. White & Le Cornu (2011) means that residents consider “A blog post is as much an expression of identity as it is a discussion of particular ideas.”, where I would clearly place myself at the end of that sentence “a discussion of particular ideas”.

Adapted from David White: Visitors and residents

The ONL-course is definitely a context where I will develop further on my life long learning journey towards becoming a…? (I’ll let you know when I figure out the answer to the question: “What is the meaing of life?)

Prensky, Prensky, 2001, “Digital natives, digital immigrants,” On the Horizon, volume 9, number 5, at,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

David White: Visitors and residents (part 1)

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).

Born between digital immigrants and natives