What is Affordances?
• A means to describe technologies and
• To select technology to suit a pedagogy
• To select pedagogy to facilitate a desired
Affordances and Functionalities
• McLoughlin and Lee: the
pedagogical activities or
practices that the function
of a technology enables the
user to perform
• Calls for Imagination and
creativity of the individual
user as they conceptualise
problems or issues in their
own environment that the
particular tool might
facilitate or help solve.
• The specific design and
functionality of a particular
tool or technology does not
define its pedagogical
usefulness or affordances
Categories of ‘affordances’ of Web 2.0
• Connectivity and social rapport
• Collaborative information discovery and
• Content creation
• Knowledge and information aggregation and
Affordances and Functionalities
Functionality does not always easily translate
directly into an affordance with pedagogical
• Sometimes there is no obvious or apparent
pedagogical use for the functionality of the tool.
• Sometimes the functionality can be a drawback.
• And in other cases the pedagogical affordance
will only be apparent under certain specific
conditions and contexts.
Affordances of Hypertexts
A model based on McLoughlin and Lee
• Ability to click on a
particular word that is
highlighted or underlined
• Ability to get additional
information in the form of
• Ability to go outside a
specific text (no boundaries)
• No pre-determined reading
• Concentrate or focus learner attention
on a particular aspect of the artefact (X
maybe unnecessary for some learners)
• Readers receive (a) more information
regarding that specific aspect of the
artefact (b) accessibility to readers with
multiple learning styles
• Readers have access to a wide range of
and unlimited resources to facilitate
comprehension (X cognitive overload,
• Ability to chart out an individual
reading/ navigation path based on one’s
purpose of reading, develops
metacognition (X navigation
X – disadvantages
The DiAL-e framework
Product of the dynamics between context,
functionality and social setting.
Some affordances do not facilitate learning.
Specify with greater granularity, which tool
affords what kind of learning and for whom.
DiAL-e framework: filtering affordances to find a
tool that matches with genuine learning
DiAL-e: A learning design framework
• Activities to engage students in meaningful and challenging tasks, rather
than on content or the transmission of information alone (Burden &
• evaluative tool to discriminate between the various affordances
• Active, iterative development that enables users to populate a dynamic
matrix with exemplars drawn from personal practice
• Two axes in the matrix represent ‘learning spaces’ and ‘learning designs’.
– Learning spaces are conceptualised in terms of size (large to small) or
modalities of learning (online, lab space, mobile) as spaces in which learners
use digital resources when engaging with the learning designs framework.)
– The learning designs axis identifies ten discrete, though interrelated,
approaches to engaging learners in learning activity (an approach that
delineates an activity that provides a genuine learning opportunity). Each of
the 10 learning designs has a specific focus and articulates possible activities
which require the learner to ‘do’ something with the resource in question.
History of ‘Affordances’
GIBSON (from Ecology)
• Interaction between environment and organisms. Environment
becomes meaningful in its interaction with organisms.
• Objective/ Positivistic meaning
• An affordance exists relative to the action capabilities of a particular
• The existence of an affordance is independent of the actor’s ability
to perceive it.
• An affordance does not change as the needs and goals of the actor
History of ‘Affordances’
NORMAN (from Design)
• Design of an object may support its intended use.
Suggestions or clues as to how to use the properties
• Perceived and actual properties of an object.
• Can be dependent on the experience, knowledge, or culture of the
actor (User-centric meaning of affordance)
• Can make an action difficult or easy
• Provide strong clues to the operation of things
• Poor design can be explained in terms of lack of affordances
• Purpose of features or objects should be explained by design and
not require further explanation
• Real vs perceived: those constrained by the environment vs
affordances we attribute to features
WELLER’s (Framework to use while assessing tools)
• Reflective: individual’s experience
• Analytical: analyses, argues or proposes an idea
• Social: not subject-specific, more like chat
• Task: focus on a specific task
• Communal: focus on, create or maintain student
• Informal/ formal: style
Taxonomy of Affordances
CONOLE and DYKE (Framework to use while assessing tools)
Drew a list of the potential themes, and commonalities by analysing
• Current social theory to establish the key features of modernity
• Castells’ work on the nature of the networked society (1996)
• The literature on the current use of technologies
Checklist for practitioners to help make informed decisions about the
use of different technologies.
Also for integrating technology in regular classrooms.
Taxonomy of ICT Affordances
(Framework to use for assessing tools)
2. Speed of change
4. Communication and collaboration
6. Multimodal and non-linear
7. Risk, fragility and uncertainty
CONOLE and DYKE
Some tasks that will help you with
1. Explore any one web 2.0 tool. Understand
functionalities and pedagogical affordances.
2. Construct a task that can be administered via
your tool of choice and determine rubrics of
assessment. (This is not a very challenging task
unless you are looking at a collaborative tool.)
Some more Tasks
3. Once all 6 presentations are over, plot their
affordances on the DiAL-e framework.
4. By the end of the course, I would like you to
draw up your own affordances taxonomy.