Affordances – actionpossibilitiesReciprocal relation between people and theirenvironmentPirkko Hyvönen, post-doc researcherUniversity of OuluLearning and Educational Technology Research Unit (LET)
Affordance (tarjoke, tarjouma, suonto)by James Jerome Gibson (1979), ecological psychology“Affordances of the environment are what it offers to animal,what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. I mean by itsomething that refers to both the environment and the animal ina way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarityof the animal and the environment”. (Gibson, 1979, 127)“An affordance is neither an objective property nor a subjectiveproperty; or it is both if you like. An affordance cuts across thedichotomy of subjective-objective and helps us to understand itsinadequacy. An affordance points both ways, to the environmentand to observer.” (Gibson, 1979, 129)Affordances are not properties, resources nor features of theenvironment. Instead they are “relations between particularaspects of animals and particular aspects of situations” (Chemero,2003, 184).
What action possibilities this environment can offer for the animal?- Social, emotional, cognitive or physical possibilities AFFORDANCES Resiprocal relation between environment and he within situations How this animal can use the environment? His size, social, emotional, cognitive or physical capabilities
What action possibilities this environment can offer for the artist?- Social, emotional, cognitive or physical possibilities AFFORDANCES Resiprocal relation between environment and he within situations How this artist can use the environment? Meaningfully? How can he perseive affordances? His size, social, emotional, cognitive or physical capabilities?
Affordances are action-based relations betweenparticular aspects of person and particularaspects of situations. (Chemero, 2003; Gibson,1979; Michaels, 2003)What action possibilities these learningenvironments can offer for learners?- Social, emotional, cognitive or physical possibilities- What environments can offer?- Can learners perceive those possibilities?- Can they use them?
Exploration unitThe exploration unit has a play affordancefor a group of children who want todissect grains of sand and the bodies offlies.The unit has a dissect affordance, in otherwords, affordance for dissecting.The same exploration unit offers a hiding,measuring and climbing affordance,allowing someone to see views from aheight.However, it does not have climbingaffordance for people whose muscles aretoo weak to climb.In Gibson’s words, we can refer to dissect-able and hide-able, measure-able andclimb-able affordances.
The spinning mill offers a spin (spin-able) affordance to a personwho fits inside the circle, who is encouraged enough to try theexperience and who has someone to rotate the circle. Affordancesof the spinning mill for playing and rotating cover the entiresituation.
Category Value Description Possibilities for interaction are perceived; they are needed,Succeeded meaningful and relational for individuals. Positive Possibilities for interaction are named; they are needed, desiredExpected and expected. Possibilities for interaction are perceived and they are relationalRedundant for individuals, but they are meaningless. Hence they are neither needed not desired. NeutralHidden Possibilities for interaction are hidden.Prevented Possibilities for interaction are prevented. Negative Possibilities for interaction are perceived, but they are not allowedDenied for certain reasons.
Perceiving affordancesPerception is the perception of affordances (Gibson, 1979).Cognition is an awareness of existing places, objects, persons and animals, andongoing events in the environments (Michaels, 2003; Reed, 1988).In the learning context learners and teachers are perceivers, hence, perceptioncan take place individually or collaboratively (shared); it can take variousperspectives and it can be mediated.Learners perceive common affordances, but, as individuals, they have theirunique intentions. In shared perception, two or more individuals are related tothe same environment (Chemero, 2003; Mark, 2007). Individuals do notnecessarily perceive similarly, but despite their differences (cognitive, social,emotional, physical and cultural), they can engage together in perceptualrelation.Multiple points of views are hence important in noting different perspectivesand finding new meanings and solutions in play and learning processes.
Perceiving affordances1) Perceiving is embodied activity2) Perceiving depends on the perceiver’s needs, intentions and meanings andvalues3) Perceiving is learning4) Perceiving the environment is perceiving oneself5) Affordances depends on the perceiver and his/her abilities and bodyPerceiving is not merely a visual activity; it engages all senses, and is filteredthrough the whole body (Fisher, 2004; Gibson, 1979).The perceptual system is more than just the senses; the system can, forinstance, orient, explore, investigate, adjust, optimise and extract.Perception includes expectations and meanings (Gibson, 1979) and is acontinuous, active and embodied process (see, Bærentsen & Trettvik, 2002;Fisher, 2004; Gibson, 1979; Michaels, 2003; Zhang & Patel, 2006).
In ICT environmentHow can you perceive positive Social affordances Cognitive affordances Emotional or motivational affordances
In ICT environmentThere is not such as technological affordances.There are technologies in your environment and in interaction withthem social, cognitive and emotional affordances can be found.
Task for you Phase 1. Choose some of the tool that you have used during theintro coursePhase 2. Evaluate a) social b) cognitive c) emotional/motivationalaffordances when using the toolPhase 3. Write your evaluation in the form of blog article to yourown blog. Include small introduction about affordances asgeneral.
Journal articles about affordances:Arminen, I. & Raudaskoski, S. (2003). Tarjoumat ja tietotekniikan tutkimus. Sosiologia,4, 279–295.Barab, S. A. & Roth, W-M. (2006). Curriculum-based ecosystems: Supporting knowingfrom an ecological perspective. Educational Researcher, 35(5), 3–13.Bingham, G. P. (2000). Events (like objects) are things, can have affordance properties,and can be perceived. Ecological Psychology, 12(1), 29–36.Chemero, A. (2003). Outline of a theory of affordances. Ecological Psychology, 15(2),181–195.Clark, C. & Uzzell, D. L. (2002). The affordances of the home, neighbourhood, schooland town centre for adolescents. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 95–108.Fisher, T. H. (2004). What we touch, touches us: Materials, affects, and affordances.Design Issues, 20(4), 20–31.Kirschner, P. (2002). Can we support CSCL? Educational, social and technologicalaffordances for learning. In Paul. A. Kirschner (Ed.) Three words of CSCL Can we supportCSCL. Open Universiteit Nederland.Gaver, W. W. (1992). The affordances of media spaces for collaboration. Proceedings ofthe 1992 ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (pp. 17–24).Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Gaver, W. W. (1996). Affordances for interaction: the social is material for design.Ecological Psychology, 8(2), 111–129. Retrieved September 5, 2006, fromhttp://www.cs.ubc.ca/labs/spin/publications/related/gaver96.pdf
Hartson, H. R. (2003) Cognitive, physical, sensory, and functional affordances ininteraction design. Behaviour & Information Technology, 22(5), 315– 338.Heft, H. (2003). Affordances, dynamic experience, and the challenge for reification.Ecological Psychology, 15(2), 149–180.Heft, H. (2007). The social constitution of perceiver-environment reciprocity. EcologicalPsychology, 19(2), 85–105.Heft, H. (2003). Affordances, dynamic experience, and the challenge for reification.Ecological Psychology, 15(2), 149–180.Heft, H. (2007). The social constitution of perceiver-environment reciprocity. EcologicalPsychology, 19(2), 85–105.Kyttä, M. (2004). The extent of children’s independent mobility and the numberof actualized affordances as criteria for child-friendly environments.Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 179–198Kyttä, M., Kaaja, M. & Horelli, L. (2004). An internet-based design game as amediator of children’s environmental visions. Environment and Behavior,36(1), 127–151.Mark, L. S. (2007). Perceiving the actions of other people. EcologicalPsychology, 19(2), 107–136.McGrenere, J. & Ho, W. (2000). Affordances: Clarifying and evolving a concept.Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2000, Montreal. (pp. 179–186). Retrieved June 20,2006, from http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~joanna/papers/GI2000_McGrenere_Affordances.pdfMichaels, C. F. (2003). Affordances: Four points to debate. Ecological Psychology, 15(2),135–148.
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