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

Lynne Silipigni Connaway, David White and Donna Lanclos

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


This 3-year project is funded by JISC, OCLC, Oxford University, and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. It does not aim to answer 'What works?' but 'Why does it work?'. If we gain a better understanding of student and scholar motivations for engaging in the information environment, we have a greater chance of meeting expectations and creating services which are used and ultimately good value for money. We cannot continue to provide an educational version of every available platform in an attempt to mirror the web within institutions. We must make informed decisions on how to move forward to ensure that we will not be at the mercy of every 'new' technology that becomes available nor will we be expending funds on services, systems, and facilities that are not used.

The project is an attempt to fill the gap in user behaviour studies identified in the JISC Digital Information Seeker Report (2010). Connaway and Dickey (2010) call for a longitudinal study - to identify how individuals engage in both the virtual and physical worlds to get information for different situations could be conducted" (p. 56). They believe that - Such an investigation would contribute to a better understanding of how individuals navigate in multiple information environments and could influence the design and integration of systems and services for devices and applications, as well as cloud computing" (Connaway and Dickey (2010, p. 56). It utilises the visitors and residents principle described in the TALL blog (White 2008), which hypothesizes that neither age nor gender determines whether one is a visitor (one who logs on to the virtual environment, performs a specific task or acquires specific information, and then logs off) or a resident (one who has an ongoing, developing presence online).

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