My digital presence along a vertical

Over the past two weeks, we have been diving deep into the first topic of the Online Networked Learning course: Online participation and digital literacies, starting with a webinar by David White and Jörg Pareigis.

The concepts of ‘Digital Natives and Immigrants’ (Prensky, 2001) and ‘Visitors and Residents’ (White & Le Cornu, 2011) were discussed during the session. The Native-Immigrant concept was perhaps applicable in the context—and era—of the situation presented by Prensky (2001), where educators may see themselves as immigrants to the digital world compared to their younger students who were perceived to be native speakers of the online language. Given that the paper was presented nearly two decades ago, some of the ideas may not be as relevant today, especially as many educators are themselves ‘Digital Natives’. For more in-depth critiques of this concept, look up the work of Margayan et al. (2011) and White & Le Cornu (2011), among others.

There was a point brought up during the webinar that touched on, that struck me as something to bear in mind:

ownership ≠ capability

The examples given included: just because we see someone with a shiny new laptop, it does not mean that the person would be really good at using the laptop. I guess it is useful to move away from seeing things in dichotomies or categorising students (or ourselves as educators) according to a narrow/biased set of requirements.

My digital presence along a vertical 'Personal-Professional' axis, and a horizontal 'Visitor-Resident' axis
 My digital presence


There may be other alternatives to the dichotomy, but during the webinar, we did an exercise to map out our digital presence along a vertical axis representing the ‘Personal-Professional’ spaces, and a horizontal axis representing ‘Visitor-Resident’ spaces. Mapping out and visualising this spectrum was an interesting one to provide perspective and understanding of my digital presence (or absence, at least to the general public). Also, while certain digital tools may require a permanent residency in a particular space, depending on how and why one uses the tool, there are also options to occupy more than one space at one time.

What I found useful about the Visitor-Resident mapping exercise was that by seeing it in this way, it does provide me with more confidence to move into or around the spaces and improve my digital literacy.

The building of digital literacy was part of the problem given to us to discuss and explore in our respective groups and was also discussed in a tweetchat among some of the ONL202 participants. Some takeaways from the group discussions and tweetchat:

  • Students are probably as anxious as ourselves in using tools for online learning
  • There is no shortage of tools to help us with online teaching and learning
    • there is no need to learn them all
    • there is no need to feel anxious when we hear about another new tool, because it may not be better/applicable to our needs
  • Important to maintain a network of like-minded educators, such as through this ONL202 course to exchange ideas, learn what works/doesn’t, and continue growing as an educator.

My group struggled a little to get started with the problem presented to us, and I guess that is part of the problem-based learning (PBL) process, but hopefully we will be able to complete our tasks for this first topic by the end of the week (which is soon…). Once we get a better hang of things, perhaps I would be able to reflect a little more about PBL in future posts.



Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. & Vojt, G. (2011) Are digital natives a myth or reality? University students’ use of digital technologies. Computers & Education, 56(2): 429–440.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9 (5). Available here [accessed 8 October 2020]

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

Moving back-and-forth: Digital Visitors or Residents