Embracing the challenge to prepare students for 21st century CCC—College, Career, and Civic Life— we ought to remember that digital fluency is not reliant on an individual’s year of birth. While it may seem true that students were born knowing how to use an iPad, engaging with a digital environment is really much more complicated. None of us was born understanding how to build coherent messaging (online, or on paper), identify bias (on television, social media, or on a webpage), or connect with potential collaborators.
Dave White’s principle of Visitors and Residents addresses how users engage with digital technologies and the wider web. Addressing Marc Prensky’s concept of the Digital Native and the Digital Immigrant, White suggests that engagement is related not to fluency but rather to motive. Therefore, no matter who you are— or how old you are— no one’s judging your internet skeelz. What we're more interested in is why you're online, and why you're working digitally.
White tells us that a Visitor is motivated by an end-goal, his or her desire to see or to do something specific. Residents lean in and out of digital environments more fluidly, sharing and collaborating as they go. While I like White’s illustration, I have a hard time placing myself on his continuum. As a lifelong learner, I have engaged in numerous online classes (think Kahn, Coursera, and University Extensions). I also maintain profiles on social platforms, and in general, like toodling around online. However, more often than not I have an end-goal that motivates me to learn, experiment, or build presence with a new digital tool. Personal, professional, or educational… there simply isn’t the time to tinker around with all the cool tools, platforms, and collaborative options. I like to turn it off and focus on “meat space” now and then.
It reminds me of the words of advice I received from a sophisticated-looking Parisian man as I de-planed on my first trip to Europe. Are you excited? He smiled at me as if I were about to inherit something valuable. Yes. Very, I managed to pipe back. What shouldn't we miss? I asked. My best advice, he said, would be to just sort of wander about, smartly.
If you watch White’s explanation, he tells us that web users behave according to their motivation. Being a Visitor is great. Being a Resident is great. I’m just still not sure where I stand. I like to make to-do lists, I like to just explore -- you know, to wander about, smartly.
[Dave White]. (2013, May 31). Visitors and Residents. [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sFBadv04eY