“I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.” – Goethe
Although I personally try to avoid the word hate I do wholeheartedly agree with the overall sentiment of what Goethe was communicating. So, permit me to share the fact that Graphite has augmented and invigorated my activity. I’m new to the world of online education and the plethora of information available on the web pertaining to education can be overwhelming, and certainly absorb one’s time. I’m not saying that searching on the web is a waste of time, but that there are stretches in life where one does not have the luxury to poke about and investigate. Graphite was introduced to me during one of those periods and has saved me a great deal of time. This content rich affinity space provided me with reviews and useful information pertaining to products that would have required a much larger expenditure of time. That is if I was even able to find these products and trustworthy reviews elsewhere on the web.
Not that this is my only like about Graphite, as this affinity space is a place where one can learn from educators, what worked, and what hasn’t worked for them, and importantly, why. Gee and Hayes (2008) describe how a nurturing affinity space is a place where “Both individual and distributed knowledge are encouraged (p. 26). The idea of distributed knowledge really appeals to me and I find Graphite a great example of what is possible if this distributed knowledge is shared in a dedicated space and can be used to improve one’s individual knowledge. This space for educators is well funded, designed, curated, and moderated. A space for educators created by educators where they and all members have a voice.
According to Gee and Hayes (2008) “Affinity spaces do not segregate newcomers (“newbies”) from masters. The whole continuum of people from the new to the experienced, from the unskilled to the highly skilled, from the slightly interested to the addicted, and everything in between, is accommodated in the same space” (p. 24). The voice of the masters can be heard in the staff reviews, as well as seasoned teachers and the fact that newcomers like me are welcome to participate in the same space increases the value of the shared knowledge.
Open discussion is important to me as I have learned that those who claim to know some great Truth and work to convince others of it have little of value to share with me and are often so uncomfortable with doubt, and not knowing, that they grasp at some small truth and interpret as a great Truth and force it on others. I find none of this behavior on Graphite as members interact in a healthy, helpful manner not pushing their opinions on others.
Graphite is an affinity space where all participants are engaged in a common endeavor and communicate quite freely. I truly appreciate and value the open-minded sharing that I have experienced on Graphite where members share a passion for technology and teaching. Gee and Hayes (2008) address this when they describe one of the features of an affinity space as a:
“A common endeavor for which at least many people in the space have a passion—not race, class, gender, or disability—is primary. In an affinity space, people relate to each other primarily in terms of common interests, endeavors, goals, or practices—defined around their shared passion—and not primarily in terms of race, gender, age, disability, or social class. (p. 23)
I’m very fond of, and highly value science and philosophy and often look to them for answers that are difficult to unearth elsewhere. And yet, after looking to philosophy and research I like to learn the outcome in a real world setting. No, I’m not trying to diminish the value of either, but believe that they are steps on the path to real-world experience and knowledge. I’ve become a bit of a pragmatist in late middle age and therefore look for small truths that have been “tested” by us regular folks in our natural environments. Learn the truth and then test it, no faith required, and keep in mind that these small truths are fleeting. Graphite lives up to my expectations as it tests what has been designed for learning and is being promoted to educators with feedback from educators. (Gee & Hayes, 2008) Information that is updated as our world and technology continue to evolve. Real-world experience and testing by those who use the products, with the outcomes, shared, for the benefit of the community.
Below, please find my Affinity Space Presentation: “Graphite and Me”
Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2008). Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.letras.ufrj.br/anglo_germanicas/cadernos/numeros/072011/textos/cl2831072011gee.pdf