Clmooc BC Affinity Invitations

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The CLmooc Book Club

I’m participating with the #Clmooc Affinity Online Book Club: see Kevin Hodgson’s post on the many entry points to this study. True to connected learning, there’s many ways to join and participate. You can too.

What draws people in?

One way is the #clmooc Twitter questions throughout March, like this question, and my response:

To clarify:

The internet is filled with places to meet and find people with similar interests; sometimes our interests are developed outside of what other people in our face-to-face world have an interest in. So our minds hone in when participants in our online communities like Facebook and Twitter have similar interests, and we “follow” them to connect and perhaps discover new groups with that interest. We are curious to see what they are doing in that area of interest, and wonder if it’s possible to connect and share.

If a community is found, how could we decide if it’s a good fit? As I was reading Affinity Online, I noticed that what their research indicates is also what encourages me to join a group:

  • interest: a similar interest is shown in the conversations
  • interactions: the group seems to interact with each other; no one is an “expert” over others, although there is a continuum of levels of expertise from novice to professional
  • encouragement: the group encourages each other’s participation through comments or some way to “like”
  • openness / welcoming: the group invites others to participate and encourages newbies; there’s a sense that everyone counts and is welcome
  • equal voice: everyone’s voice counts as seen in acceptance of ideas
  • low pressure: hanging out, lurking, “liking,” is just as welcome as is deep conversation; participation is at member’s choice in time and content
  • friendly critique: everyone learns together, sharing and offering feedback in positive ways; novice and expert together discuss the content, not the people
  • flexible connecting: expectations are to participate with whom and when according to one’s interests and confidence
  • device agnostic: anyone with any device can participate equally
  • sharing agnostic: sharing occurs in multiple ways and multiple medias
  • focus: the focus is on learning together to grow and develop the interest

So, if I were to join a group, I might ask these questions:

How could classrooms be more like an Affinity Network?

As I wrote this response, I thought of some of my students who are disinterested in school participation– could these reasons to join an affinity network be reasons to participate in class?

How does my classroom meet these questions?

  • interest: Is there a way that students could pursue their interests to learn the content– or at least choose the way to learn that fits their interests?
  • interactions: Are there interactions / conversations where student’s carry the discussion and each idea is acknowledged?
  • encouragement: do the classroom norms expect encouragement of each other’s participation through comments or some way to “like”
  • openness / welcoming: do the classroom norms invite participation and encourage new ideas; is there a sense that everyone counts and is welcome
  • equal voice: does the classroom provide for each voice– that each person’s ideas count
  • low pressure: are there alternative ways to learn and participate so that everyone can find a way to the content; sometimes could students “lurk” until they find a spark
  • friendly critique: is this practiced: everyone learns together, sharing and offering feedback in positive ways; novice and expert together discuss the content, not the people
  • flexible connecting: do students have choice in connecting for learning — can they work alone or choose their groups
  • device agnostic: is the school restrictive with student devices and are the online activities available to anyone with any device even at home so all can participate equally
  • sharing agnostic: are there choice in options for sharing and demonstrating learning –in multiple ways and multiple medias
  • focus: is the classroom climate on learning or compliance — is the focus is on learning together to grow and develop the skills and interest for lifelong learning

My students and I might ask these questions:

I especially like the “time to hang out.” I’ve watched many students who were “lurkers,” who just needed the confidence to get started by watching and talking with others about their projects. I’ve been surprised by students who were “lurkers” and nonparticipants until something their peers did sparked an idea and then their frame of mind changed to one of interest and participation.

This is much more likely to happen in learning-centered classrooms, where everyone is a learner, just like an affinity network.

How do you draw learners and learning into your classroom?

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  2 comments for “Clmooc BC Affinity Invitations

  1. March 9, 2019 at 3:29 am

    Thanks for this deeper dive into another ‘bridge’ — I am not sure, as you know, where all the connections might be, but I can see some doors that lead from one (Affinity Space) to the other (Classroom).
    Kevin

    • March 9, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Kevin, I write of possibilities… You’re correct about the “top down” requirements of schools today. What could be different is as Verena Roberts suggested — connecting several affinity groups as part of schools. There are doors we can open, as you and I suggest. It was a great conversation today on #clmooc twitter that provided thoughtful conversation tied to Verena’s and others’ research. A step at a time to building awareness and possibilities. Part of the conversation we had: https://twitter.com/grammasheri/status/1104150590622318592

      Thanks for stepping up and questioning the connections. When I saw Verena’s work, I was more hopeful!

      ~ Sheri

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