The Visitors and Residents (V&R) project explored what motivates different types of engagement with the digital environment for learning. The investigation focused 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 used the V&R framework to map learner’s modes of engagement in both personal and institutional contexts.
The project assessed whether individual 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 participated in the project, enabling the researchers to explore potential cultural differences between the two countries.
The pilot phase focused on the emerging educational stage which spans last year high school/secondary school and first year undergraduate college/university students. Phase 2 included interviews with participants in the three later educational stages – establishing (upper division undergraduate college/university students); embedding (graduates); and experienced (faculty).
A detailed code book has been compiled, enabling 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 (eg 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
Our website has more information about this project and its outputs. This guide explores some of the key themes emerging from the V&R project to date.