are places where informal learning
takes place. According to James Gee (the author of the term), affinity spaces are "characterized by, among other things, the sharing of knowledge and expertise based on voluntary affiliations" (Jenkins, 2006). Often (but not always) occurring online, affinity spaces have a goal of sharing knowledge or participating in a specific area, but informal learning
is another outcome.
Because the members of the community are interested in similar things, they have common ground and motivation together. Gee says that because of this commonality (interest), affinity spaces are able to bridge barriers of age, race
status, and educational level, and allow each user to participate as he/she is able (Gee, 2005). While not everyone in affinity spaces would be an expert, they are not places where the "blind are leading the blind." Many spaces have unwritten rules that while sharing information, you must share only what you know, provide sources to back up what you say, and in general, leave feedback
and comments only in areas you know. These allow a lot of schooling to take place outside of school and can be substantial learning in some situations.
Online fan fiction
sites are great examples of affinity spaces. While the goal of the sites are usually to share and read other people's fan fiction creations, there is a lot of informal learning
that takes place as people have their work read and commented on. It is up to the author then to decide what to do with this informal feedback
, but often it is used to revise and edit the work, and at the same time helps the author understand his or her own writing flaws better.
- Gee, James. Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling. New York: Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0415317770, ISBN 0415317762.
- Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006. ISBN 0814742815.