Residents & Visitors 2 #heanpl

In a nutshell (and partially for Dave White’s benefit, as he’s keen for evidence of impact on practice), here’s how the Visitors & Residents concept is influencing my practice:

The PG Cert course I lead is fairly complex. It demands participants use a number of different tools and platforms to create, share and communicate. Prior experience of these tools and ways of working varies.

This soundbite from one of the course participants illustrates a key concern:

“The course seems to be designed for students who are in front of a computer endlessly.  I find it difficult to navigate… instead of all sorts of online tricks it would have been useful to have a clearly laid out plan for how to get through the course.”

I don’t think it is right for me to expect everyone to behave as a Resident on the PG Cert course; what *is* important to me is that participants have a generally positive experience of learning with the assistance of technology; one that isn’t necessarily entirely on their terms, but has pushed their boundaries (while not being such an uncomfortable experience that they are turned off forever).

While it is certainly possible for a participant to get as much out of the course by working in Visitor mode as they would in Resident mode, through reflecting on the Visitor/Resident continuum I’ve become much more aware that the skills and knowledge required to set up subscriptions, feeds and notifications in a way that meets one’s needs as a Visitor are actually greater than those required by someone who is willing and able to live more of their life online. Residents are more likely to be able to figure this kind of stuff out anyway, even if they don’t need it as much.

So, at the moment, the main point of impact that Visitors/Residents has had on my practice is a) to improve the way I teach Visitor-focused skills and knowledge; setting up and using group feeds and subscriptions on the blogs, for example, and b) incorporating explicit discussion of working patterns and ‘degrees of residency’ during the group contract-setting session on Day 1.

Throughout the 2011/12 course I offered a few online seminars and produced a number of screencasts that dealt with issues like setting up group feeds and subscriptions as they arose. There was simply not enough time in the initial blog-setting session to cover them, and I was also painfully aware of overloading participants with too much ‘new stuff’. I still think these offerings will have a role to play but I suspect there is a core group of [let's call them] Visitors who are simply not aware of them or motivated to engage with them. In 2012/13 I am going to incorporate longer (half day) technical induction sessions that lead participants not only through setting up their blog and writing their first post and comments, but also includes group and subscription settings too. Previously I saw these as less necessary skills than posting and commenting, but now I see how *not* emphasising them from the start has put those who choose to engage on a Visitor basis at a significant disadvantage.

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