Affordance-coupling in Trial 1 activities

March 9, 2007

iCamp Trial 1 consisted of certain activities:
assembling the learning environment, community formation and grouping, collaborative creative assignments, assessment and evaluation, self-regulation, monitoring and support.

The diagrammic activity view image demonstrates, which actions the subjects (learners, facilitators) performed in different activities, how were the artifacts related with certain activities and which tools were used.


The affordances are evoked when in each action the subjects with certain intentions use some mediating devices (artifacts, tools) for realising these intentions. These components constrain each other, and therefore appear as the affordance components.

affordance components

In Trial 1 the set of tools was decided by the facilitators according to their perception, which pedagogical affordances these tools conveyed.

The planned activities with these tools predefined according to the perception of the facilitators the set of pedagogical tool functionalities in activity patterns.

For example…
email – for community formation and grouping, regulation,
Wordpress blog – for community formation and grouping, regulation, monitoring and support
Skype – regulation, monitoring and support
Flashmeeting – regulation, monitoring and support
google.docs – collaborative creative assignments, assessment and evaluation
del.icio.us – assembling the learning environment, community formation and grouping, monitoring and support

These large groups of activity functionalities are not the same as pedagogical affordances. At action level it would be possible to distinguish under each general activity functionality affordances using the operation verbs, subject and artifact nouns and necessary adjectives.

Each of the Trial 1 activities consisted of certain actions, in relation with which the set of affordances should have been perceptable for the students.
*We need to ask from the facilitators (trial planners), which were originally the affordances they expected would appear in each activity if using these tools in actions.

However, the analysis of Trial 1 tools’ pedagogical functionalities in actions indicated, that the actual use of the tools was different from preplanned set of pedagogical affordances for the selected tools.

Here is a Table with my perception on the basis of activity analysis in several groups, what the students might have perceived as the pedagogical functionalities of the tools. However, the students in each group (as groups and as individuals) might have perceived the pedagogical functionalities differently than me as a researcher.

Trial 1 - affordances

*Thus, the users should be questioned to get to know, which pedagogical affordances they perceived actually…and was there a common understanding in the groups about these affordances or not.

The previous example indicates that in activity setting certain pedagogical affordances which were not preplanned by the facilitators might dynamically emerge.

The coupling between the general pedagogical affordances we think the tools might have in activities, and between the tested pedagogical affordances that emerge in actions is thus necessary.

In iCamp settings we try to predict which pedagogical affordances different social software might have. This can be done more at general level (like in the previous example).

From the other side, we try to describe different activity patterns for self-directed learning, networking and collaboration with social software. Here we are able of predicting much more precisely, which would be the affordances that are necessary for the mediators in each action.
We do not assume that we can predict it 100 % accurate way..definitely we cannot.

But through these activity descriptions we will define another set of affordances, which we assume the suitable learning tools should have to perform these activities.

The coupling is necessary when learner starts an activity pattern, which has a predefined set of pedagogical affordances (predicting what the tools and artifacts and subjects should do) and has to select a set of suitable tools according to their pedagogical affordances (or more generally defined functionalities) that can be used in this activity.


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