Topic 1: Digital Residents & Digital Migrants

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less” General Eric Shineski, US Army Chief of Staff (Harris et al, 2010).

To make full sense of this quote in the context of this blog, we first need to understand Prensky’s theory of ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Digital Migrants’. Prensky determines the difference between these two communities as in the main part down to age; Generation X have grown up with the web and technology, it has always been there. For Generation Y and Z it is something they have been taught, much like a new language, many have become fluent, but most still bare traces of their original accent, for example, turning to the web second for information, rather than first, the immediate response of those who are fluent (White & Cornu, 2011).

However, Prensky’s theory is just the beginning, and his ideas have provided the building blocks for what we term ‘Digital Visitors’ and ‘Digital Residents’ (White, 2008). The video below shows us the difference between these two groups within the population.

But if we take these ideas further and apply our own experience as Digital Natives, and Digital Residents we can see that as time progresses a need for a further term to define us in terms of our Web use in relation to our lives. We reside on the web because it is always there, we are Generation X, born on the Web, living on the Web. But when I spoke with students at the University of Southampton about the way in which they lived on the Web many did not fit closely to the existing model. Many didn’t have Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts, and were not active users of Facebook, their use was passive, simply to see what friends and family were doing (Social Media Influence, 2012).

Our use of the Web for the collection of knowledge remains the same, in academia Generation X is frustrated if a Journal or chapter of a book isn’t available online, whole modules are now taught online. In an Academic context we are beginning to participate much more readily online, creating whole new communities which are at odds with the traditional aspects of Academia and the teaching methods of the traditional University system. Where Lecturers used to be the gatekeepers of all relevant subject knowledge, they are now beginning to simply facilitate these communities and gently guide them (Harris et al, 2010). We are essentially becoming Digital Academic Residents.

413 Words.


Harris, L., Warren, L., Leah, J., and Ashleigh, M. 2010. Small Steps across the chasm: Ideas for embedding a culture of open education in the University Sector. Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2) 16 (1) Accessed: 6th Februrary 2015

Social Media Influence. 10th September 2012. Accessed 6th February 2015

White, D. (2008) Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’, TALL blog, University of Oxford, Accessed: 6th February 2015

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9) Accessed: 6th Februrary 2015