It is almost a norm today to be digitally literate, or, at least, to aspire to be such. This is my view of the matter, at least, and I cannot seem to decide whether for me it is a dystopian view and a destructive norm to be resisted, or simply a natural consequence of the possibilities enabled by modern technology. To keep up with development and not to fall behind, you should be able to comfortably navigate in different digital environments, seamlessly connect with others, share and create content, and be an early adapter of new tools and technologies. Or?

In my professional work, I try to keep up with the necessary tools that I need for teaching and with tools which my colleagues also use – such as learning to use the many features of our course platform at the University or the array of different digital tools (which also hopefully are pedagogical and user-friendly!) which can help with my teaching. We share tips and tricks and many adopt new digital tools when a colleague has recommended them for a particular purpose or a particular course. Some tools are more helpful than others are, however, and some may take so much time to master that there is simply not enough time for that in our schedules. Therefore, it may take time before I or my colleagues will have adapted and adopted “the new” into our teaching, although we may recognize the benefits that may come with the new application or digital tool. In that sense in my professional role I may be somewhat digitally illiterate – or, simply, not have enough time to learn to use the new tool or its features to become comfortable with using it.

Relating to the aspect of my professional life, I finally had the time to take the European DigCompEdu digital literacy-test (available at, and my result was B2 – Integrator, not far from Expert. The result is on the whole justified, I think, and I was not surprised, although I was somewhat careful in my answers and tried not to overestimate my skills. Perhaps my score should have been just slightly higher. Ideally, I would like to learn everything on time to make sure that my learning of a new technology or tool could benefit my students early on. In reality, however, I feel at times inadequate and slow although I try to keep up and learn new things. This conflict of on the one hand viewing the goal of seamless digital literacy as a norm, a norm which I should also perhaps try to attain, but on the other feeling quite often that I am falling short sometimes causes, not surprisingly, unpleasant feelings in my role as a professional. 

I guess I see myself as digitally literate – but only to a degree, and only in certain, very limited contexts. This has become very clear during the first weeks of our ONL-course. In the first video that we watched for Topic 1, David White talks about the notions of the Residents and the Visitors, the personal and institutional axes, and the degree of engagement of the users of various digital tools and platforms ( This simple model is actually quite useful as a basis for my own personal reflection, and helps nuance the issue for me. As White suggests in the video, basing the discussion also on White and LeCornu (2011), it is helpful to visualize the issue as a continuum – digital literacies and engagement can be seen as a sliding scale in this model he presents. Obviously, we all can then realize that our assessment of ourselves is subjective and our own; nonetheless, this can help us navigate the different roles we take, and the assumptions that we have about what it means and should mean to be online and to be digitally literate.

White asked us to draw our own map during the shared ONL 192 Webinar (Oct 1st, 2019) and post it to the Padlet, and I enclose mine here to illustrate the way that I sought to map out my own degree of engagement or visitor-resident status:

As White said that many would (Webinar Oct 1st), I also forgot several tools or sites that I do use (occasionally or more often) – those I added afterwards, and circulated here:

Some tools have become so commonplace that we indeed seem to forget about them, and I am not sure that I have remembered all yet.

The maps I drew serve to visualize what I already know about my digital practices and digital identity: I try to keep the personal and the institutional separate, and I do not feel at home (in White’s terms resident) in many of the digital environments that I am involved in. In fact, I consciously try to avoid becoming a Resident on many social media sites for example, personally as well as institutionally, to not to share too much about me, and to not to expose myself too much online. For me, the online world is more like a tool, and not something that I necessarily use to define myself. In addition, on a general level, I do not want to share too much of myself as I value peace of mind and freedom from un-called-for nastiness which unfortunately seems to be quite a common way to communicate in social media for many people nowadays. I choose to disconnect and remain a Visitor in most cases for the sake of keeping the personal personal, and the professional professional. I choose to remain a Visitor to protect my privacy and manage my time, and furthermore, I do not want to mix these too much for the simple reason of being able to log off from work and my work identity when I am not supposed to be working. Finally, digital tools and platforms steal a lot of time from what I still choose to perceive as “real life.” Thus, to be able to be actively present in “real life,” at home, with my family, I need to limit the amount of time spent online. A fully resident individual online in my view would risk becoming just a disconnected and absent visitor offline, which is something that I do not want for my family or myself.

Given my preference for the status of the visitor, then, it is quite logical to note that the basic premise of ONL and sharing felt initially a bit challenging for me. However, the ONL community (it is open, yes, but most of it is still limited to registered participants) actually helps me to at least some degree manage the juxtaposition or inherent conflict within the digital identities of visitors and residents. We are all on the same boat and can help each other reflect, and the ONL community is not a social media platform in that sense, but something else (I cannot find a word for it right now). We are all navigating the possibilities provided by the course, and will be fluctuating in different roles as visitors and residents during this course, using the course as a tool but also for reflection and part of our personal or professional development. It feels ok to do that here. I can try out the different roles, to see what it feels like to become more resident, and to perhaps broaden my horizons (for the purposes of teaching and gaining more insight), but it is also helpful to realize that I do not have to remain in the same mode afterwards unless I choose to, of course.

I recognize the professional need that I have to become more comfortable with the array of different digital tools that are available for teachers. I have decided to challenge myself to learn as many new tools as I possibly can during this course so that my (future) students can benefit from my experience. The PBL-group is an excellent way to achieve that, it seems – and sharing insights this way has already been encouraging and helpful. Initially, however, it was a bit distressing to realize that I had to become comfortable with Zoom straight away to be able to participate in the Webinars or the group meetings – luckily, despite (or due to) numerous external technical difficulties, I think I am more resident than visitor in Zoom now. I also like the idea of the blog, but at the same time, I will not invite my students or my family to read it. I am happy to share my reflections and experiences with my colleagues and PBL-course mates, but it would feel awkward to receive a comment on a blog post from a student on a course that I am currently teaching, for example, or receive a friend request from a student on Facebook. So, I guess that I will be sharing happily to my ONL-peers when it comes to learning about digital technologies and reflections on the process during the course, and I will occasionally try out some resident-stuff, but I will still be keeping the sharing and my practices mostly on the institutional side of the axis during the course.

Final two points: I am clearly not a resident in WordPress yet, and cannot find a function for adding let alone formatting (in-text) references in a neat or proper way here. So, trying to understand WordPress and the settings has been frustrating. And I must add that I adamantly refuse to create a Twitter account. If you ask me why, I will point you to the direction of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thank you for reading. Please protect our planet.


EU Science Hub. (2019) The European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators: DigCompEdu.

JISC Netskills, White, D., University of Oxford. (2014, March 10). Part 1: Visitors and Residents [Video]. YouTube.

White, D. (2019, Oct 1). Topic 1: Online Participation & Digital Literacies [ONL192 Webinar with David White]

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

Boundaries & engagement