This project is exploring what motivates different types of engagement with the digital environment for learning. The investigation focuses on the sources learners turn to in order to gather information, and which medium they choose as part of the learning process. The project will assess whether this shifts according to the learners’ educational stage or if they develop practices in the early learning stages that remain largely unchanged as they progress into other learning stages. Learners from both the UK and the US are participating in the project, which will enable the researchers to explore potential cultural differences between the two countries.

Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment?

This project is a collaboration between JISC, the University of Oxford, and OCLC, and a partnership with the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Building on research of individuals’ modes of engagement with the web (Visitors and Residents), and the JISC-funded Digital Information Seeker report, this project is exploring what motivates different types of engagement with the digital environment for learning. 

The investigation focuses on the sources learners turn to in order to gather information, and which ‘spaces’ (on and offline) they choose to interact in as part of the learning process. It is using the Visitors and Residents framework to map learner’s modes of engagement in both personal and institutional contexts.

The project is assessing whether individual’s approaches shift according to the learners’ educational stage or whether they develop practices/literacies in early stages that remain largely unchanged as they progress through their educational career. Learners from both the UK and the US are participating in the project, which will enable the researchers to explore potential cultural differences between the two countries.

The pilot phase focused on the ‘Emerging’ educational stage which spans late stage secondary school and first year undergraduates. Phase 2 included  interviews with participants in the three later educational stages - establishing (Second/third year undergraduate); embedding (Postgraduates, PhD students); and experienced (Scholars).

A detailed code book has been compiled which has enabled a first draft analysis of the data. Emerging findings are encouraging and indicate (amongst other things):

  • A variety of ways in which learners and scholars engage with the digital information environment, some of which correspond to the concepts of Visitors and Residents
  • Certain sources which are widely used by students against the advice of teachers and lecturers (e.g.Wikipedia);  therefore, ‘covertly,’ used suggesting the presence of a type of ‘learning black market’
  • Potential differences in approaches between US and UK learners and scholars.
  • Discovering and defining a number of ‘learner owned’ digital literacies, which are not highly visible to educational institutions.
  • No significant shift in modes of engagement when transitioning from school to university.  

It is anticipated that the project will evolve into a three-year longitudinal study which will investigate the four educational-stages from school level to scholar. The planned phase 3 will centre on a large targeted survey which is designed to test findings developed from interview data in the previous phases. Process diagram for visitors and residents project

Objectives

  • The researchers plan to develop a high level matrix of how learners engage online at different educational stages. Or, if this proves to be too varied, a typology of key modes of engagement and the factors (educational context, educational level, discipline, etc) which are most likely to encourage particular approaches.
  • The project will address the ‘Digital Natives’ theory, which has been increasingly challenged in recent years, as well as the need for a new understanding of how learners seek information online.
  • The researchers will disaggregate the use of particular platforms and technologies from underlying motivations and learning strategies.

Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes

Ultimately the project will produce a matrix of preferred methods of engagement and discuss the motivations behind learners’ choices at each of these stages. This will be supported by a substantial body of data and analysis which can be accessed by those wishing to explore the detail underpinning the model.

At its highest level the model will be a refining of the Visitors & Residents principle, acting as a catalyst for reflection and discussion for those who have not yet considered their service provision and digital literacies in the context of motivation rather than functionality.

The outputs from the project will inform those administering or planning digital services how to most closely meet the expectations of the learners they are seeking to support. It also will highlight the most effective modes of communication/engagement at each educational stage.

Reports

Digital Visitors and Residents: Progress Report (June 2012)

Video:

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, David S. White, and Lorcan Dempsey. 2011. Digital visitors and residents: What motivates engagement with the digital information environment? An update on current findings. Video presentation, October 13, 2011.

 

Visitors and Residents (an explanation of the broad concept):

Presentations:

White, David S., and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. 2011. Digital visitors and residents: Project feedback. Webinar, December 9, 2011

View a recording of the session, a transcript of the text chat during the session and blog responses.


Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, David White, and Donna Lanclos. 2011. Visitors and residents: What motivates engagement with the digital environment? Presented at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting Bridging the Gulf: Communication and Information in Society, Technology, and Work Conference, October 10, 2011, New Orleans, LA.

Blog posts:

The Learning Black Market

The Cost of Residency posts

Information Literacy and deciding what is ‘good’

References:

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, and Timothy J. Dickey. 2010. The digital information seeker: Report of findings from selected OCLC, RIN, and JISC user behaviour projects.

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, David White, and Donna Lanclos. 2011. Visitors and residents: What motivates engagement with the digital information environment? Proceedings of the 74th ASIS&T Annual Meeting, 48: 1-7.

White, David S., and Alison Le Cornu. 2011. Visitors and residents: Towards a new typology for online engagement. First Monday 16(9).

Project managers:

  • David White, TALL, Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University. Tel: 01865 280989 email: david.white@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Research, 6565 Kilgour Place, Dublin, Ohio, USA. Tel:001-303-246-3623; email: connawal@oclc.org

Project Team:

  • Dr. Alison Le Cornu, TALL, Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University. Tel: 01865 989983; email: alison.lecornu@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • Dr. Donna Lanclos, UNC, Charlotte, J. Murrey Atkins Library, Associate Professor of Anthropological Research, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA. Tel: 001-(704) 687-2060; email: dlanclos@uncc.edu
  • Erin Hood, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Research, 6565 Kilgour Place, Dublin, Ohio, USA. Tel:001-614-761-5150; email: hoode@oclc.org

Project Staff

Ben Showers   Programme Manager, Digital Infrastructure

Email b.showers@jisc.ac.uk

Telephone +44 (0) 203 006 6015

Mobile +44 (0) 7891 470 735

Fax +44 (0) 207 240 5377

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