Community of Practice or Affinity Space: A Case Study of a Professional Development MOOC

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Jones, K. M. L., Stephens, M., Branch-Mueller, J. L., & de Groot, J. (2016). Community of practice or affinity space: A case study of a professional development MOOC. Education for Information, 32(2016), 101119. doi: 10.3233/EFI-150965


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have brought about new questions regarding the construction of virtual learning environments and course delivery systems. One such question that researchers and instructors alike are considering is the role of community in learning spaces. This paper uses a professional development (PD) MOOC as a case study to investigate whether students identified as a community and identify characteristics that encourage students to believe this is so. Furthermore, the authors question if “community,” specifically “communities of practice,” is actually the appropriate way to describe such learning spaces, or if the concept of affinity spaces is more useful. The findings reveal important implications for designing course spaces for community experiences and the conceptual approach to professional development communities in large-scale courses.

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