From affinity and beyond: A study of online literacy conversations and communities

Peggy Albers, Christi L. Pace, Dennis Murphy Odo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Digital technologies make possible new avenues for sharing and accessing literacy research and practices worldwide. Among the myriad of options available, web seminars have become popular online learning venues. The current investigation is part of Global Conversations in Literacy Research (GCLR), a longitudinal and qualitative study now in its fifth year. As a critical literacy project, GCLR investigates how a web seminar project uses developing technologies to disseminate innovative literacy research and present professional development that critically shapes literacy practices. With this in mind, the current study seeks to understand the following: (a) What kinds of knowledge sharing interactions (KSIs) occurred in GCLR web seminars focused on critical literacy? and (b) What types of community and social practices occur in web seminars? Data included synchronous chat transcripts from across seven web seminars, interviews with participants and speakers, and website analytics. Data analysis followed the constant comparative method and R, an open-access software that analyzes both qualitative and quantitative data. The study resulted in two findings: Three types of KSIs emerged: whole group, between individual, and smaller, nested affinity groups; and GCLR emerged as a distinct online community with unique social practices. KSIs generated and supported collaborative opportunities to exchange ideas, co-construct knowledge, offer practical classroom applications, and gain insight about important critical literacy issues. As an online networked space that brings together participants interested in critical literacy issues, GCLR represents an innovative type of situated practice with an aim to develop what we call online Networked Spaces of Praxis (oNSP).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-250
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Communities of practice
  • Critical literacy
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Literacy
  • Nested affinity groups
  • Nested affinity spaces
  • Online learning
  • Online spaces
  • Open education pedagogy
  • Open education resources
  • Praxis
  • Professional development
  • Web seminars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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