Squire’s Affinity Spaces: My example

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” (Buddhist Proverb)

This is the quote that was in my head as I woke up this morning. Last night I read more of Kurt Squire’s: Video Games and Learning and pondered the section on ‘Affinity Spaces’ as examples of ‘Participatory Spaces’ for learning. An online affinity space is a place to voluntarily share knowledge and expertise, it is a participatory place as those joining need to contribute to it (Squire 2011). The larger and longer running of these become known as ‘Communities’.

Squire’s (2011) examples reflect upon spaces for students as well as his experiences in creating and enacting them as an adult. In my life as a teacher and teacher educator I have been active in creating and maintaining my classroom (and beyond) as affinity spaces. As I was reading I was quickly realised that I am part of a few participatory affinity spaces. First to mind is Facebook, where I am active in contacting and conversing with friends, and playing games. Second to mind is Twitter, where I am getting more active in participating in PhD and Academic circles. But my best ‘real life’ example of an affinity space is the online tatting group ‘intatters’.

I have been a keen crafter for a long time, and have been tatting (lace making, using a shuttle and knots), or attempting to, for nearly 20 years. Having no one nearby who could help me with the nitty-gritty questions was frustrating and isolating,  causing me more than once to put the threads and shuttle back in the cupboard. Around 10 years ago I figured out the ‘flip’ needed to create the stitches needed and I began tatting again with renewed vigor! By then we also has a great internet connection and I began looking at ebay, blogs and other places I could find patterns, inspiration, and advice. It was only last year I ‘found’ and joined the online tatting guild (there is a guild in Victoria, but they meet around an hour away from me, so I haven’t pursued this community link).

As an affinity space and participatory space the opportunities in this free forum abound. It was the opportunity for me to share my knowledge and ideas, and an even greater opportunity to draw on the ‘collective intelligence’ of tatters from all over the globe. I have been involved in ‘exchanges’ (tatters send each other items, there are about 4 of these a year), forums and chats. I have also been active in classes to learn how to use designing software to diagram and write my own patterns. There is also an online tatting class to learn shuttle tatting. These are run as free classes, and the teachers volunteer their time to put together course work every week. The tatters who organise these classes are creating wonderful learning experiences and are the drivers of these affinity spaces. There is a sense that we are all learning together, and I feel that we are good friends (I have been doing the classes for nearly 10 months now). As a whole this guild and associated classes have been running for a long time, and last year (when I was ready to be involved in them) I jumped right in.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” is as true today as it was years ago, it is just a bit easier to find the teacher using the wonders of the internet. When you are ready to learn anything today, you can easily use the online world to find an active affinity space to participate in. LT starts with you-tubes, I start with blogs, WH starts with ted talks and my BB starts with twitter.  Where ever you start, you will be able to find a place where you can be a learner and a teacher. Squire’s chapter explores the next step too, and says, if the affinity space you are looking for isn’t already there, digital media affords us the power and means to create it.  As a teacher I have seen students in schools active in creating affinity spaces, starting with their own classroom and then extending these spaces to the broader community. Knowing about and participating in these spaces goes hand in hand. Within my role as a teacher educator our team is modelling and exploring  how we can create, maintain and use these spaces for our own learning and that of our students.

I would be interested to find out about your examples of affinity spaces you are part of, or have been involved in creating. Please share stories and/or links in the comments.

Until next week,

Fiona T

Here is a blog I wrote on my other blog last week. Yes, it reflects on craft, but it’s ideas and plan for action can be applied to any pursuit.

Enjoy

Fiona T

Planning for action, a guest blog from ‘One Mad Tatter’.

One Mad Tatter

I came across this blog post today and it made me think about a few things. This post could easily go into my other blog, but it resonated more with my ‘craft’ self, so here it is in this blog:   http://www.mysimplerlife.com/blog/new-idea

I took a long time to learn to tat. When I was about 17 or 18 years old I found a tatting book and blue plastic clover shuttle at a craft shop while on holidays. I thought I would teach myself! But try as I might, my rings kept locking.  I loved the idea of tatting (something beautiful made from knots)and proceeded to buy more books with instructions and beautiful patterns….I kept trying for a few weeks each year (usually summer when it was too hot to knit) and still couldn’t master the sliding ring.  After quite a while I could do a lovely double stitch, but not…

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Mummy needs a moment…

As much as we try, none of us are superheroes. We only have so much time in a day and energy to use up.  I find that I often get bogged down in my ‘have to do’ list and can go weeks before I realise that I am overwhelmed because I haven’t had any ‘down time’.  In my previous life, before becoming a Mum, I juggled work, house and my own projects seemingly easily. A big part of that ability I am sure was to do with having time for myself, even if that was 15 minutes in the car on the way to work.  There was time for me to think about the day.The thing that strikes me most about being a Mum is that it is constant, unless you make an effort to schedule time for yourself, you wont get it until you are perhaps at breaking point.

So there are times almost daily where I will do something for myself, often for just 20 minutes. This is most often my craft, at the present time tatting, but I also like to knit or bake. This blog is also a bit of time out from me, and allows me to reflect on what has happened over the last week and how I could do something better. I also play tennis once a fortnight, which in all honesty is the only exercise I do. I have many projects on the go, some related to work or study, others just things I like to do.

I suppose what I am getting at here is that family life is always a work in progress. There are times when you have to prioritize and give your time somewhere else. I am also aware of my limits, including times, energy and health, in view of this I am slowly feeling better about saying ‘No, I can’t do that at the moment’ for some things. I am also getting better at not just setting aside time to myself, but making sure I take it and use it for something that makes me happy. The weeks when I do this my whole outlook is different and I feel that I am in such a positive space that anything is possible. It is such a good feeling that I encourage others to find that time too, start small maybe 10 minutes a day and build up with what suits your circumstances.

How you will use your ‘Mummy moment’?

 

 

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