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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Tech Savvy Educator and Zen Habits are wonderful references--thanks! Got them both bookmarked on del.icio.us.
Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for this thought-provoking and timely question! [Adding New Literacies to my Amazon "to read" list.] I'm Shelley Krause, and I work as a college counselor in a pretty techno-positive independent K-12 school in central NJ. I have just been charged by my upper school head with talking with our faculty about "living online" at our upcoming faculty meeting (on MONDAY!).

My favorite affinity communities are this one (thanks, Steve!), haikuworld.org, Twitter (follow me here... it's protected but you're special, I'll say "yes"), and the listserv of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

At my school we seem quite comfortable asking our students to participate in a virtual environment (Moodle is huge here, with some podcasting and video-making happening around the edges). We have an AUP and have had some disciplinary actions come out of its enforcement. Our Headmaster is requiring everyone to participate in some kind of Moodle-facilitated activity over the summer, and we had a series of well-attended faculty-generated tech talks that ran all year this year. (The "power users," evangelizing.)

But. We seem to be less sure about what to do with folks like me... the few faculty/staff who have an active blog and/or wiki and/or Second- and/or Twitter life that are not explicitly or exclusively tied to our school-based jobs.

What is an appropriate "rule of thumb" when posting in a non-school-affiliated space that is nonetheless open to the public? I have moved from imagining posts appearing on the front page of the New York Times (an old dean's recommendation) to imagining posts taped to my office door the next morning. If that makes me uncomfortable, I don't post.

I also like Pamela Livingston's idea of LARK.

And I liked contributing to and reading what other folks had to say in Liz B. Davis' Collective Intelligence Wiki.

I'm looking forward to reading other responses, and please accept my apologies if you read a modified version of this over on another thread (Web 2.0 Resistance),
Shelley
(reply here, or message me @butwait on Twitter, or shelleyq (at) yahoo (dot) com)
Shelley,

Great rule of thumb, re "posts taped to my office door." I like that. Thanks for adding to the conversation, especially your thoughts about the special considerations educators must face when participating in non-school-sanctioned affinity spaces. I think it's a real hurdle to overcome in terms of "evangelizing" the old guard, as you say.

Perhaps, after you present to your faculty about "living online," you should start a thread here at CR 2.0 in which you share some of your major points. I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on the subject. I imagine "affinity spaces" (or, whatever you want to call it) will be a part of the conversation you have with your faculty.

Also, I'm researching progressive AUPs -- can you share a link to your system's AUP?

I don't mean to make light of this situation, but I can't help but think of the commonly traded story among teachers about the first time they ran into a student in a non-school context. The grocery store always figures prominently in these stories. Well, I live in the neighborhood where I teach and have for the last nine years. In fact, I frequent the supermarket across the street from the high school. It took me YEARS to work up the courage to put a six-pack of beer in my cart, something I'm sure other teachers (even some reading this thread) would disapprove.

Bad judgment? Maybe. But one has to hope against being judged by a single act done in isolation. I have a strong record of classroom performance, solid professional relationships, and years of positive teacher-student interactions to back me up. The times of compartmentalizing our teaching, our schools, our personal lives, and so on, are over. Isn't it possible to put ourselves "out there" and still model habits of good citizenship and responsible adulthood at the same time (for our students)?

I guess what I am trying to get around to is the other "big picture" question in my original post: How do our interactions and exchanges within digital affinity spaces intersect with and inform our daily classroom practices? (And that includes ALL our online activities, not just those within professional or education-related spaces like CR 2.0.)

Just some half-baked thoughts in the early morning hours.
I guess what I am trying to get around to is the other "big picture" question in my original post: How do our interactions and exchanges within digital affinity spaces intersect with and inform our daily classroom practices? (And that includes ALL our online activities, not just those within professional or education-related spaces like CR 2.0.)

Just some half-baked thoughts in the early morning hours.


I teach my lessons through Ning. Everything is there either through EFL Classroom or my academic nings. I use a big screen and everything is click and play. Backup on my computer. Students can get me there, 24/7 and also repeat everything we do in class.

No degrees of separation and I live what I live. I can't live another's life but I would urge all educators to really relax and stop panicking about "issues" and "seperation between school life and LIFE and online life and LIFE. It is all one.

I taught p.s. for years and always tippy toed around between my "teacher" personality and my other life (which started when I walked home and got across the bridge). I've had to learn the hard and wrong way....

DD
http://eflclassroom.ning.com
That's a cliff-hanger if ever I read one... HOW did you learn the hard and wrong way? Please tell us a story?
I hate to admit it, but my professional affinity spaces are the same spaces I use for personal recreation. Twitter and the edublogosphere are definitely my two favorite "places" to hang out online.

That said, I should probably clarify that most of my personal recreation simply isn't spent on the computer.

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