The first topic of #ONL202 turned out to be really interesting and thought-provoking. David White presented in a film his description of online participation in two dimensions: visitor vs resident and personal vs institutional. He then suggested that one should place one´s use of different digital tools into this four-field diagram. Doing this exercise gave me some insights.


  1. I think about myself as a rather non-technical person and fairly uninterested in social media and online conversations. I however realized that I use far more digital tools than I thought, and some of these tools are daily companions that give me a lot of wellbeing. In those tools I am certainly a resident.
  2. For some other tools I am more of visitor -i.e. I use them occasionally, but I do not contribute to discussions and content. But I am aware of the tools, and they do give me some input to my thoughts. So even if I do not feel totally confident with certain tools and I do not contribute content, I am kind of peeking at them from a distance, and sometimes finding them useful (and here I used the online tool google translate, to find the right word in English…). That made me realize that I have underestimated my online participation, actually boosting my confidence of my digital literacy.
  3. For one particular tool I found myself to be visitor, which I do not think is enough. The tool is an important networking and information channel in my profession, and I think that my professional life would benefit if I became more visible in the tool, i.e. moving towards  becoming a resident contributor. So I used the David White four-field diagram also to plan my internet participation.

Private, personal, civil and institutional

During the PBL-group discussions, one member (#Urban Anjar) suggested that the vertical dimension personal vs institutional should be further divided into four sections  (see the Urban blog text):

Taken from Urban blog

Urban proposes that content that is private (such as issues around health, finances, sex etc) is never shared online, while personal content (birthdays, holidays, spare time interests) is shared in certain tools with selected persons, such as friends and family. But life also contains what Urban calls civil aspects, such as political groups and interest organisations we support, like churches, sport clubs, cultural events, NGOs.  Here the online content is more official/professional, but we participate out of our own professional capacities, i.e. as members of a community. Urban’s final section is the institutional, where we publish content online that is related to our work and professional capacities. I found this further division very helpful and realized that my online participation differed considerably between these sectors, and also which tools I use for the different types of content.

Institutional: work-related and professional

Pondering a bit further along the lines suggested by Urban, I think that the institutional sector also should be subdivided, into work-related and professional. As a university lecturer I am obliged, as part of my work duties, to proficiently use a couple of tools related to student contacts (e.g. learning management systems) and to collaboration with colleagues. For those tools I must be a resident. But I also have an interest in online content that is related to my trade, to my profession (health economist in my case). For those tools and communication channels that could aid me to keep in touch with my scientific community, my participation is optional -and there I tend to be only a visitor. And following insight no 3 above, I will aim at being more resident in those tools.

Online participation -where am I and where do I want to be?