Inspire with David White: It’s not about being good with digital technology

On 7th November I organised an Inspire event (#7 of the series) at UCEM. This time our invited speaker was David White, Head of Digital Learning at University of the Arts London. David is best known for his Visitors and Residents model, a framework to understand individuals’ engagement with the Web based on motivation and context. David’s session was titled It’s not about being good with digital technology.

In the workshop, he explained his Visitors and Residents model and gave us a chance to map our digital practices in the four quadrants created by the two axes Visitor – Resident as x axis and Personal Institution as y axis. You can see some of the digital practice maps drawn and shared by participants in Padlet.

David’s session was really interesting. It made us think hard about the digital tools that we use. Some of them are so close to us we don’t seem to consider it as a tool anymore. One such example was Google search. I use it daily and during the day multiple times. But mapping my digital practice, I was thinking more of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and so on I completely forgot to map Google search.

At the session David said:

Visitor Mode: The Web as a series of ‘tools’ – Instrumental, defined goals. Examples include: searching for information, reading information, watching videos, shopping, ‘Lurking’ in resident spaces

Resident Mode: The Web as a series of ‘places’ – Leaves a social trace, Going online to engage with others, Requires a digital identity. Examples include: active in social media, joining in discussions, commenting, being socially present in email.

I did have the question whether the amount of time one is present in a place should be considered in deciding where to place it in the diagram.  After the session, we discussed the maps we have created justifying our mappings. I considered both leaving a trace and being present (as in using the platform regularly) to map a digital practice on the resident side. On the other hand, Louise had interpreted it on the basis whether you leave a trace or not. So obviously our maps were different not only because of our practice but also because the way we interpreted the activity.

It was a useful activity to take a step back and think about our digital practices where we are resident and where we are visitors. Whether you have more things in resident mode or more things in visitor mode doesn’t really matter. It depends on your needs and whether one’s current digital practice facilitates all what you want to do and grow. One may also have very different digital practices depending on the role assumed or depending on the circumstances. For example, though I leave a trace on Twitter, I do not consider myself a resident in Twitter given that I feel I use it as a tool. However, when I am at a conference I use Twitter in a proper resident mode – I use it, I leave a trace and I am present to interact with conversations. So it is not very helpful comparing one’s digital practice map with another’s just by looking at it. But the discussion that you may have about digital practices facilitated by the map will be a useful conversation.

If you would like to see what it was like at the session we have a Recording of the full workshop.

I also did a short interview with David. Normally, Fiona or Kate help me with the interview. But as they both were away I conducted my first interview for the Inspire series.