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intermediate affordances

May 16, 2007

Since now i have found a lot of information that affordances are intermediate in the sense that they do not belong to one tool (environment, artifact) or to the person but evolve for the person in the process when they try to do an activity with that tool.

I will not stop on all the theory aspects i have dealt about affordances in my blog, but i point to some interesting ideas that came to my mind looking some data.

In the affordance-based course we have now collected a lot of schemata of learning landscapes and activity patterns with web 2.0 tools. I have tried to group all the affordances, which seem important at learning settings – it seems those were related with information/artifacts, peers/tutor, environment, and pedagogical activities in different combinations.

Some interesting examples of perceived affordances:
relating the community reflection with the tutor’s reflection
personalised possibility to create new ways of information access
bookmarking important information gathered from weblogs

From these data a particularly interesting aspect has emerged – affordances are not only the emergent characteristics, which occur when working with one tool only – several cases the distributed learning environment evokes affordances as intermediate between the tools.

Secondly, there are many examples that affordances are expressed as intermediate charactersitics between people, which are only mediated by tools.

Now i am thinking that if people perceive and externalise affordances as intermediate characteristics between two tools, tools and artifacts, tools and people, person to person, artifacts and people etc., then it is harder to attribute affordances to one instance only, and take them as objective functionalities (which has often occured in the literature). Affordances are by their nature intermediate phenomena in many sense.

These new data what we have collected seems to be well in line with our ideas that affordances might be emergent in the activity systems, constraining possible interactions in those.

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