1 Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (PORTUGAL)
2 Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 5528-5537
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.1330
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Considering the European guidelines about the education’s change through ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and the gap between researchers and teachers, the goal of this research was to identify and reflect on the conditions of genesis and sustainable development of an affinity space for science education using multimedia.

The research felt into three different empirical studies. In the first study, a syncretic notion based on social learning systems, such as communities of practice (CoP) and affinity spaces, was adopted to lead an action-research process on a previous existent online platform - that was developed for making available the research that had been carried out in Portugal, between 2010-2015 and targeted for all who might be interested in science education using multimedia. Through this platform we aimed to implement strategies able to attract and to retain the public and therefore progressively create a community of peers.

In the second study, based on the theory of planned behavior, we assessed 60 science teachers about their beliefs and their intention of participation (registration, sharing or comment on projects, practices or resources) in the affinity space mSciences [mCiências].

In the third study, we conducted a thematic analysis of the qualitative data gathered through an online questionnaire sent to nine participants that interacted in different degrees with the mSciences [mCiências] platform.

Results led us to introduce several changes in the previous platform to include the features associated with affinity spaces. The intention towards the participation in the mSciences [mCiências] platform of the science teachers revealed a high degree of perceived behavioral control on the detected positive intention of participation (70% of the participants).

By using a syncretic notion between CoP and affinity spaces, it was possible to start devising bridges between researchers and science teachers that hopefully might enable future improvements of practice through links with research. Identifying the main underlying beliefs of teacher’s adherence to affinity spaces allowed the development of future lines of action to challenge negative beliefs. For example, it seems to be important to design persuasive communication actions to present the participation on the affinity space as a non-time-consuming activity that does not compete or interfere with other professional or personal activities.

Acting on the subjective evaluation of a belief, mainly on increasing the subjective evaluation of control beliefs, might increase the intention to participate but also the actual participation.

The current results can be taken into consideration when designing new national or international platforms, suggesting a conceptual turn from affinity spaces into affinity communities. Such affinity communities might reduce the distance between researchers and teachers, thus enabling future transmission of learning innovations from research to educational practice, allowing practitioners to integrate research findings into their practices but also to make researchers aware of what is important to practitioners.
Multimedia, teaching, sciences, communities of practice, affinity spaces.