Digital visitors and Digital residents is a further development of Prenksy’s original theory of digital natives and digital immigrants.
Prensky set to make a distinction between people who are completely at ease with technology and the digital world and those who actively work and know how to use the internet but will never be fully competent. This became an extremely influential theory, which until recently gained widespread acceptance.
Prensky identifies two categories; Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, which I have explained in the graphic below:
However, Prenskys distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants is now outdated (Holton, 2010). Unfortunately, the idea is still accepted in some journal articles and used as an excuse for poor or ineffective teaching practices (Holton, 2010). It is also important to note that Prensky’s natives and immigrants pre-date new social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook which now control a large proportion of our internet usage.
So how should we categorise these two groups? David S. White and Alison Le Cornu propose the following two categories; Digital Visitors and Digital Residents which I will describe in the following graphic:
White and Cornu believe that the Visitors and Residents categorisation describes the experiences of socio-internet engagement much more suitably than Prensky’s previous categorisation. The reason behind this, is their belief of the importance on the metaphor of place to provide an analytical framework, but also the moving away from Prensky’s understanding of language and accents.
The idea of ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ is a continuum, not simply two binary opposites, a person can find themselves on both side of the scales. White explains this by mapping your online activity to place yourself somewhere on the continuum.
Below is an example of my mapped online usage, and shows how I see myself on both visitor/resident scale.
Word Count: 300
White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).