Affinity Spaces for Informal STEM Learning Research: Developing an Agenda Report

September 20th, 2016

Twin Cities Public Television and collaborators at Indiana University and the University of Bradford in the UK recently completed a Science Learning+ project that explored an exciting new frontier for informal science education: “Affinity Spaces for Informal Science Learning: Developing a Research Agenda.”

Affinity spaces, defined in the work of James Gee in 2004, are places – either virtual or physical – where people are drawn together because of a shared interest or engagement in a common activity. Online affinity spaces today enable conversations around a multitude of subjects, such as hobbies, video games, movies, books, and health. “There’s an exciting body of research about learning in affinity spaces, but virtually nothing about learning science,” said PI Richard Hudson. “And with the dramatic increase in the use of online social media today, there is a pressing need to develop a research agenda that investigates the exciting potential for science learning in these spaces.” The project’s final report has now been posted on It documents a two-day workshop that brought together researchers in both affinity spaces and informal science learning, offers recommendations for research, and provides a detailed bibliography of relevant research.