Changing your Digital Identity from Visitor to Resident

When I started this course 7 weeks ago, it was with great anxiety and self-doubt. As an older learner, with what I thought was very little experience using digital platforms in both my personal and professional life, just the title of this course alone ( LDRS 663: Effective Coaching for Transformational Learning in Blended Learning Environments) caused a cold sweat and heart palpitations. I thought – technology is for the young – in fact, my introduction included a reference to the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. This was my mindset, and it wasn’t until near the midpoint of this course (Unit 3) that I began to realize that this mindset was actually acting as a roadblock to my progress.

The breakthrough came while doing the activity to develop my VR Diagram based on David White’s idea of visitors and residents online. In the podcast Teaching in Higher Ed (hosted by Bonni Stachowiak) White states that, “the digital environment is as much where people live as the physical environment.” (The entire podcast is available at the bottom of this post.) We reside in the digital environment as either a visitor (who is basically a silent observer of the media/material presented) or as a resident (who interacts and makes their presence known by adding and responding to material). Before sitting down and actually mapping out my VR Diagram, I was positive that it would show that I had very little presence in the digital environment and that the majority of time would be allocated as a visitor. Boy was I wrong!

In reality, the majority of my time spent online falls within the resident section. Although I presently spend up to 8 hours a day on Zoom for work purposes (meeting with students, staff meetings, etc.), it is just the means to connect visually with others and as a result falls within the visitor realm – prior to COVID-19 all of my Zoom work would have been conducted face-to-face. Most of my web presence (especially prior to COVID-19) falls within the resident-professional quadrant of the VR Diagram. From using WordPress to book appointments, update the learning commons database, and send/receive messages to using education sites (Google Classroom, Schoology and Moodle) to post PPTS and assignments and give grades/feedback, I have a strong connection as a resident online. This was an eye-opener for me and actually helped alleviate some of the stress and anxiety I was feeling towards technology. Realizing that I was already actively and successfully using digital media removed the mental barriers I had constructed that were blocking my progress. Moving forward from this point/activity in the course material, I have embraced using WordPress to create and design my website.

man in blue shirt and gray pants standing beside man in blue shirtJust like moving from one city to another, when moving from the physical environment to the digital environment, it can be scary and stressful. However, in both environments we will exist as visitors and residents. The longer we stay in the new environment and actively participate in activities, the more comfortable we feel and see more movement into the resident role.


Podcast – Teaching in Higher Ed – Digital Visitors and Residents with David White (Episode 312)


Stachowiak, B. (Producer). (2020, June 4). Digital Visitors and Residents with David White (312) [Audio podcast episode]. In Teaching in Higher Ed.


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