This section provides a snapshot of different stakeholders in relation to a visitor mode.
Visitor modes tend to be well-represented in academic libraries generally, as a tool-based approach is traditional for databases, monographs, and instruction, among other things. Patrons go to the resource, use it, and put it back. Libraries put a great deal of institutional energy into configuring Visitor-mode tools that patrons use to search for resources paid for by the library. This is very much in keeping with the needs of traditional academia which tends to be geared around the ‘lone scholar’ principle.
Even when students have personal learning practices that are resident in character (such as participating in Facebook groups for their courses), Visitor modes remain the predominant way that institutions see their students operating.
For example, students submitting work to the virtual learning environment (VLE)/Learning Management System (LMS), engaging with other systems to complete assignments, or viewing instructional videos or other materials. While there is often Resident-mode functionality embedded in VLE/LMS platforms, it is likely that students will prefer to keep their resident practices in online spaces not owned by the institution.
Data from the Visitors and Residents (V&R) project indicates that students see email as the main method of communication within a formal institutional setting. Individuals who have to interact in official ways with institutions tend to have email as a regular part of their digital practices, regardless of age. Such institutions do not have to be schools, but can also be churches, scouting organisations, and so on.
Ultimately, most educational institutions predominantly engage students in Visitor modes, especially with regard to formal assessment, which is usually focused on individual ability rather than collaboration skills. Students who do well in terms of marks are usually adept with Visitor mode practices, such as seeking out and evaluating credible information online. In fact, much of the intellectual effort expended in Visitor mode for students is assessing to what extent non-traditional online sources can be cited or spoken about in formal educational contexts.
Many such successful students might also communicate about their course of study with peers in Resident online spaces, but may not categorise this as ‘learning’ when asked.
For those who are teaching, visitor mode often means gathering and curating information and instructional materials. VLEs/LMSs such as Moodle or Blackboard are treated as document repositories and portals to operational websites such as the library. In visitor mode, there is little expectation of being engaged in an online discourse around these resources. The resources provided in this way are clearly extremely useful and highly valued by students without involving any personal online presence on their part.
Visitor mode is the most traditional way of searching for resources. Online databases, library catalogues are tools and information sources that do not require online presence, or interaction with other people. Expert information seekers can actually spend more time looking for the right resources than novices, because they have the knowledge that makes them aware of how much further they need to go to find the ideal resource.
Speed is not an effective measure of efficient or effective searches in the case of expert researchers.
"Yes, for many journals it’s directly to – I don’t go through [academic library name] as much anymore. Because I have the journals I look at bookmarked. And many of them are through certain publishers like American Society for Microbiology, ASM, they publish a dozen journals. So I just go to ASM site. And there’s a couple of other journals that have a – they’re published by a group that publishes multiple journals.
So if I look for a specific article I still use [academic library name], usually Science Citation Index, one of their electronic resources, medline. I mean SCI are some others. CSA and some others. But usually it’s a couple of different search engines that are used for looking for an article or just what’s new on this topic."
USA, experiencing, male, age 54
Use of email is an important tool for communication that leaves no visible trace on the open web. It is very common for both faculty and graduate student researchers to use email eg Visitor modes of collaborative research and/or writing frequently involve emailing Word documents back and forth, with track changes turned on.