An affinity space is any place (virtual or physical) that ties people together based on a mutually shared interest or endeavor. Certainly Classroom 2.0 is one such place, but I was wondering about other virtual "hang outs" enjoyed by CR 2.0 members, places perhaps that are not defined by professional interests and obligations but more by hobbies, passions, or guilty pleasures.

For me, it would have to be the "mommy" blogs that I read daily. I've got about four where I lurk and occasionally comment. I am really inspired by the way these women merge their varying interests in politics, civics, and, of course, technology, with the everyday challenge of parenting. I am even thinking of starting my own mommy blog as the birth of my second child is quickly approaching in mid- to late-June. It's time to start adding my voice to the conversation, and the lazy days of summer seem like a good time to undertake this project!

What is your favorite online affinity space?

My question is inspired by a book I recently finished reading, New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel. It was assigned reading for a spring semester seminar on multiliteracies, and it has given me a lot to think about.

The authors' basic purpose is to shed light on the concept of "new literacies," and to invite educators into conversation about "how the new might best be brought into a fruitful relationship with the already established."

The last chapter is a recommendation or challenge of sorts to readers. Lankshear and Knobel think the first step toward merging conventional schooling and the world of new literacies (remix, blogs, podcasts, social networks, mobile technologies, and so on) is for educators to actively pursue firsthand experience with the social practices of digital "affinity spaces," a term borrowed from James Paul Gee.

So, Classroom 2.0 community, where do you participate on the Web when you are not consumed with school, educational technology, and all that Web 2.0 goodness? And do your interactions and exchanges within digital affinity spaces intersect with and inform your daily classroom practices?

This question is cross-posted at ThinkTime, where I have other posts on New Literacies, mindsets, and mashups. Come by for a visit!

Tags: affinity space, multiliteracies, new literacies, web 2.0

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My Passion is litterature, contemporary arts, philosophy and politics. So i'm a reader and a writer in a web site of a french Review "Multitudes" (based on Antonio Negri's theories - a great italian philosopher - about current globalization), where...
1. all theses topics are linked
2. readers of the paper review can interact with others readers and writers through a mailing list...

I have met in the true life many readers/writers of this intellectual french review, and i consider Internet as an excellent extent to what i read in papers and books :) . These contacts are positive for my intellect, so i think that this kind of site helps me to enlarge my mind, and so my teaching life :)

Have a good day !
Thanks, Vincent, for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the connection you draw between intellectual pursuits and the teaching life. The Internet certainly merges them in new and exciting ways!
I am so glad you started this thread. I hope you continue to get comments. I think you're getting at the heart of where I see change will take place, and the idea of having a personal experience with a "digital affinity space" was at the heart of starting CR 2.0.

I just emailed the authors of the book and invited them to use our Elluminate office to do a webcast, much like Jake Krauss and Suzy Boss have done, and are doing again. I wonder if you might not like to be a part of that if they want to do it.

Oooh, yes, I'd very much like to be included! Thanks for taking the initiative on that!

By late June of this year, I will be trading my late-night and early-morning Web adventures for late-night and early-morning feedings and diaper changes. (Number 2 is due on June 21!) I may barely manage e-mail, much less blogs, forums, and other networks, but I am hopeful I can remain in the loop with all the great conversations at CR 2.0.
I have always thought that the overarching purpose of the internet is not "content" or "information" as much as the ability to bring people together, instantly, freely, across vast distances.....

This should be the focus of our education systems. Bringing the classroom into the world and tearing down walls. It might not bring world peace but it might also create some kind of new order. It is also a way of destroying the old paradigm of the "expert" as wiki has done so well.

In my own area of language learning, I think the new model will be on creating thousands of teachers from native speakers and sharing their passion through "affinities" with language learners who need practice, cheap practice. This model bypasses the traditional notion of an "expert" teacher and brings together people based on interest while still learning a language.

But we got to get our classrooms more connected -- not just us professionals.

Hi David !

you're so right when you ask how to use affinities to bring our classroom into the world ! It is our very true challenge as teachers, here, or in your network, or my network and many other places of course...

And learning languages, not only english :) , even if it's just to know a few words, is a strong way to do that ! in my opinion we have to think the globalization of education together, far from commercial considerations, far from those who think that education is a market, or a strict national frame...

And like you, a "good" teacher is not an expert, just maybe an open minded person, "un passeur" as we say in french, who helps his students to interact and to share knowledge with others, to give the desire to learn much more than the obligation to study. And i'm very satisfied to see in School Beyond the Walls that my students now learn us what they like, and their parents too ! They begin to create specific groups around their passions...

Really, try to read the amazing "The Ignorant SchoolMaster" writen by one of our great french alive philosopher, Jacques Rancière

Honestly, I limit my online affinity spaces to all things related to educational technology (for professional reasons). Sites like Ning, Diigo, Delicious, Twitter, Linked-In, Wikispaces, and the 50+ blogs I read through Bloglines keep me busy enough. I rarely expand my online presence into my other hobbies because I already spend too much time online. I do have a MySpace and Facebook page (so I can keep in touch w/ my kids) but I don't use them socially. I love to travel, read, and garden but don't have online spaces for those interests (yet).
You bring up a good point about the blurring of lines between our professional and personal lives/interests when it comes to participation in Web communities. The transparency of the Internet causes concern for privacy, one that teachers can't afford to ignore, as you say, for "professional reasons." It seems you are finding a good balance by maintaining a presence in affinity spaces like MySpace, where your path may inevitably cross with former or present students.

I wonder if others in this thread share this concern?
Talk about blurred lines--yes, it sure does happen. Everything overlaps...

There was the time a parent walked into the principal's office with a recent blog of mine about our class network which at the time was passing through a temporary chaotic state (a natural part of some transitions, as we educators know). She was in need of a lot of context...

There are times I've posted a personal blog page--a creative writing piece or essay--and had to wonder if I've thought through all the audiences it might reach. If parents see it, or students see it, will it make sense, be appropriate? Also, I've had to wonder whether what I write is appropriate for ALL sets of colleagues I have--F2F and networked.

Hard to think all these things through. It is such an age... new ground, everywhere.

As David D says in a new production he's made, communities are fluid... knowledge is a moving field... How do we negotiate our new shared learning spaces? Is the self that gets conveyed in one community the same self that gets conveyed in another? Is the idea overall "wholeness" or overall painstaking care about what gets said where? Or both?
Hi Jennifer,

Over winter vacation I set up an affinity space called Fireside Learning, a place for discussions about education: pedagogy, news, philosophy, ideals. It seems to be a strong learning community; a lot of sustained discussions get going, media is shared, creative thinking and experimentation are encouraged.

Examples of discussions:
What advice would you give a student just beginning their journey i...
"Commentary: E Pluribus ... A Tale of Three Systems" by Howard Gardner
Types of Change in Schools
From Ideals...towards Practice
"Black-White Gap Widens Faster for High Achievers" article in edweek

What did you do before teaching?
Boys and Disorganization (which includes some pretty amusing pictures of notebooks and lockers)

We've discussed one book together so far, The Courage To Teach. On May 15th will begin three new book discussions: Roland S. Barth's Learning by Heart, Ron Ritchhart's Intellectual Character, and Susan Jacoby's Age of American Unreason.

The network is relatively small (about 180); people get to know each other, and "threads cross threads" in a nice way, I mean, you see how the conversations are linked and inter-related and, as is so true of networking, the whole becomes much more than the sum of its parts. It's great to see you there, and David, Vincent, Ellen Pham, indigo196, Skip Zilla, Ed Jones, Kelly, Ian, Kevin H, and Kevin, Gerald, Steve, a lot of CR2.0 participants. It's a spin-off network, modeling after Steve's wonderful example here, and taking a slightly different (and overlapping) focus. I think it's true to its mission of "collegial conversation" among "reflective pratitioners." I would certainly welcome feedback about "how it feels" and various directions that might be taken up.

Anyone who'd like to join in, please consider yourself welcome!

Thank you, Jennifer, for starting this forum; I look forward to hearing from others about their affinity spaces. It would also be interesting to hear about how many networks people find themselves happily involved in: a lot? Just a few?

And I agree with David: we need our students to be finding meaningful affinity spaces. David's EFL Classroom has been great for students, and so has Kevin Honeycutt's Art Snacks, among others.
Another question: does anyone have a set of definitions for various types of get-togethers? There's "affinity space," "communities of practice," and so forth. What interactive groupings would be on the list, and how are they characterized?
Great post! There are too many for me to mention although the techie/education site that I find most useful is The Tech Savvy Educator. Zen Habits is very good life blog as well and I believe a winner of the Blog of the Year award from

I just thank Yahoo! for My Yahoo . That way I'm able to collect all of the new posts from FaceBook to news to educational blogs to techie geek stuff. It just saves me so much time. Right now, I have 7 pages with an average of 15 RSS feeds each. They range from basketball to technology news to educational technology news.



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