Digital Environments and Identity

This blog piece is based on 2 of the workshops at #digifest14, “Understanding students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment” and “Visitors and residents: understanding student behaviours online”.

The first of these looked at previous Jisc supported work and started with a review of expectations and experiences which recognised the need to differentiate between general digital environment and study environment and digital aspects

Today students’ transactional needs include hygiene factors such as wifi.

Students have vague or blurry expectations of how they will learn with technology

Younger students expect technology to be frictionless. Many uni systems are quite chunky in comparison.


The workshop focussed on:

  • Can institution meets students rising expectations of digital access and use?
  • Do your students learning experiences prepare them to live and work in a digital society?
  • It’s 2020. How will students experience digital environment?

More detail on this can be found at the digital student blog and design studio pages.

The second workshop looked at ideas of digital identity, and how students and staff might behave online. The starting point was Prensky’s idea of digital natives and immigrants. This has been superseded in the intervening years, since Prensky differentiated by generation, suggesting that the young were digital natives. In this newer approach, David White of Oxford University suggests the terms resident and visitor, and further separates behaviours depending on whether they are professional/institutional or personal.


As an exercise we each mapped our digital identity using referring to each of our online presences. An interesting issue arose – if a service such as Twitter is used and is just professional, how much can be personal? Is there an advantage in revealing something of yourself as an individual as part of the need for authenticity, especially for leaders (see Goffee and Jones – “Why Should Anyone be Led by You?”).


These were  a pair of really interesting workshops – and thinking back to my blog post on the need to put “digital” at the centre of what we do, they give us some tools to understand what our students expect and experience, and what we might need to do when looking at our own digital competence and identity