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PLE affordances

July 23, 2007

PLE (Playful Learning Environment) and its affordances for educational activities and -play is the topic Pirkko Hyvonen is currently writing in her forthcoming thesis.
Kindly, she has shown me some of what she has been writing.

Pirkko redefines affordances as conditional processes.

I consider them basically as processes of perceiving–finding–fulfilling, when needing, intending, meaning and capaciting includes in the entire processes making them conditional.

She has distinguished the categories of affordances for PLEs.

This last aspect we also did initially when elaborating the affordances of activity systems. However, Sebastian Fiedler pointed out that it is theoretically not correct to separate affordance types in case of activity system conception, because we cant artificially take part of the activity system out of it. As soon as we try so, these affordances what are derived from the noncomplete activity-system would be different from those that originate from whole system.

It is quite difficult to write of the affordances without slipping to describe them as part of the objective environment.
In Pirkkos work she uses:
afford – to allow
affordance + to offer
affordance=feature that actualise
affordaces are for activities
affordances as meaningful potentialities

I dont feel that all of these are interactional enough.

I like this reference:

Arminen and Raudaskoski (2003) assume that the concept of affordance is useful in revealing the features that actualise when children and teachers use PLEs; those features are meaningful potentialities for action.

Pirkko noted that:

The affordances have similarities with sociocultural perspective.

I totally agree with this point. Affordances are intersubjective, exist between subjects and objects, subjects and subjects, and even interrelational objects or -subjects evoke affordances if someone acts with them.

I like that Pirkko uses the ideas related to mediated affordances: meaning for example the teacher mediation of affordances for students, but also tool-mediation of affordances. There have been some claims (eg. Heft, 2003; Michaels, 2003) that the affordances are always direct and unmediated, which i disagree.

For me it is a big question when a tool is a tool and when it is part of the environment. It seems to me that as soon as i use part of the environment to mediate my action, it technicaly becomes the tool. So i could say something of the environment becomes a tool in action if activity gives meaning to and actualises something (affordances) in the environment.

Gibson (1979, 128) wrote: What other persons afford comprises the whole realm of social significance for human being.

Here the interpersonal emergence of affordances is supported.

Pirkko writes:

On the basis of Gibsons theory (1979), I have concluded that these processes (of reciprocally providing affordances) bind teacher, children and their environment together; they form a reciprocal relation.

It makes me to think that in activity system, activity system is functioning due to affordances..in my interpretation affordances constrain possible activities in the activity system, but here it is that they bind together the activity system

..which is the same but in differnet meaning.

Interesting part is a table where the dimensions of affordances (eg. expected, misleading, harmful etc.) are defined.

The table with PLE affordances itself was a bit disappointment because Pirkko defines affordances through what they afford (eg. affords creation).
In my understanding affordances are interrelational and thus they must be named accordingly
(eg. creating_jointly_paths; etc.)

Her thesis is an interesting work woth reading if ready, especially if someone is interested in affordances and PLEs.

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One comment

  1. Extremely interesting! I look forward to read the entire work! Just some comments, first things thaat came to mind…

    >Pirkko redefines affordances as conditional processes.
    « I consider them basically as processes of perceiving–finding–fulfilling, when needing, intending, meaning and capaciting includes in the entire processes making them conditional».

    I subsantially agree, even tho I would probably repack the whole thing saying that affordances are potentially infinite even tho pragmatically limited. Still, probably my darwinistic approach imply that selected affordances are just the ‘effective-enough’ ones when it comes to perform a given task. Accordingly, action planning of task-oriented activities should play a major role in conditioning, even tho task-independent activities may of course exert potential affordances of any object-environment (I totally agree with Kai when she says that «For me it is a big question when a tool is a tool and when it is part of the environment. It seems to me that as soon as i use part of the environment to mediate my action, it technicaly becomes the tool»: wooden logs have not been created to be burned as stones have not being created to be sculpted, so the border between environment and tool is eminently conventional).

    >On the basis of Gibsons theory (1979), I have concluded that these processes (of reciprocally providing affordances) bind teacher, children and their environment together; they form a reciprocal relation.

    I agree in the terms that basic relationship between the individual and the environment is of course mediated by social learning, that is the individual background making it possible for a child to learn. Still, the ‘basic’ individual interaction with the environment looks to me as primary pre-social, eminently anatomical, that is body-part directed. The establishment of Shared Manifold, as Gallese define it, depends on learning by imitation, that leads to the ‘selection’ of given affordances as the socially shared ones.

    >In my understanding affordances are interrelational and thus they must be named accordingly (eg. creating_jointly_paths; etc.)

    I totally agree. Indeed, I think that interrelational naming of affordances reflects into textual encoding of narrative events. Unrelated nouns refer to potential performers or targeted objects of a given event, eventually triggering latent or potential perception, action, emotion, evaluation. Likewise, unrelated verbs define sets of potential events, but they hardly focus on actual ones. Indeed, textual encoding of narrative events very likely requires nouns or pronouns referring to given performers governing verbs that refer to given performances, governing more nouns that refer to afforded environmental features, in the case of a transitive event.



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