separation of service from instrument

March 13, 2007

The best idea from the PLE framework (which i referred to previously) was thisone:


It goes in the heart of the concept, what we try to do with the pedagogical affordances.

The wrong idea (if we want to realise this separation) would be thinking that technical functions exist as part of tools, and we can objectively make a list of technical properties of the tool and this list would tell us what can be done with the tool for learning.

The supporting idea (if we want to realise this separation) would be considering activities in the heart of tool usage – meaning that each tool is what it is because of the activities people possibly carry out with them. People give the functions to the tools, and they do it very varied ways.

So we can imagine, that each tool is like the medium for different activity patterns which run in this medium. For running effectivly in the certain medium these patterns need to be suited with this environment. Affordances, arising from subjects’ goal-directed actions with artifacts in the tool medium serve as this intermediate link which is tying certain activity patterns to the instrument, giving thereby the instrument some functionalities.

Why it is necessary to untie these services from learning tools? If we are able of describing pedagogical affordances as part of pedagogical learning patterns, it is possible to select suitable (or preferred tools) for conducting certain learning patterns from various sets of very different tools. It is necessary in new self-directed learning settings without centralised tools.

Previously I have tried to work with the activity-diagram of Trial 1, which was very particular and tool-specific. The problem with this diagram is that it ties the activities (and affordances) with concrete tools as if it was obvious that learners should have perceived the same affordances in Trial 1.

This figure has to be simplified in order to remove the continuing similar pattern elements (e.g. Skype and Flashmeeting cycles, secondly..the shared blog, google docs, but also msn, skype and Flashmeeting were all having some overlapping affordances for shared knowledge constructing…and this has to be addressed general way).

shared knowledgebuilding activity

If done so we create another problem, without imagining tools as part of the activity patterns the description of affordances related to these activities is complicated. I can imagine of describing the affordances of this general activity pattern only by thinking one-by-one to all types of tools and then summing up a set of affordances what each action has in the activity.

The problem related to finding appropriate tools emerges as well. There is a simlar problem of tackling with difficulties when trying to describe the set of affordances, which relate with the tool without imagining certain activity patterns which are run in that tool.

To conclude my further steps:
1. Simplify the activity pattern, that it was not tool-specific, but general
2. To define the affordances, which relate with this activity pattern, scan different types of tools and sum up the list of possible affordances for eact action of this activity pattern
3. Evaluate with the scale (e.g. nonexistant, existant to some extent, existant) to which extent any affordance is evoked by the actions of the activity pattern
4. To define the affordances, which possibly relate with the certain tool, scan different types of activities and sum up the list of possible affordances in each activity, which relate with this tool
Here is something i started earlier, what can be useful
A figure of social software functions..but the operation level affordances have to be written


    content aggregation & filtering (e.g. tags, categorizing, tagclouds),
    social bookmarking (social recommendation, sharing, categorizing, rating, ranking),
    search engines, federated search

    syndication & feeds,
    widgets, gadgets, embedding

    audio/video archiving
    feed archiving
    metadata management

    trackback, pingback

    text (convert and cast, follow)
    podcast, (create, cast, follow)
    audiocast (create, cast, follow)
    videocast (create, cast, follow)
    slideshare (convert, cast, follow)

    collaborative casting:
    synchronous audiographics conferencing groupware (one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many communication),
    interactive casting (videocast or slideshare with synchronous communication)

    collaborative authoring:
    social networking tools (visualising networks etc.)
    asynchronous communication and collaboration groupware (e.g. blogs, vlogs, phlogs, wikis, forums, portfolios, instant messaging, swap?),
    online project management tools (e.g. calendar, …)
    clickpath sharing
    online annotating (web artifacts)
    collaborative authoring (creating, commenting, sharing of text, datatables)
    collaborative charting, mindmaps, drawing
    collaborative modelling (distributed model control)

5. Evaluate with the scale (e.g. nonexistant, existant to some extent, existant) to which extent any affordance is triggered when this tool is used in different the activity pattern

I will next try how this idea works in action…


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