December 28, 2006

Affordance in E–Learning

The concept of Affordance taken from a range of disciplines is considered as important in the development of E-Learning.

What is Affordance?

I have lifted this directly from a course at Purdue University
however there are many sites which come up with the same material. The door example is especially popular. In other words this is the accepted dominant discourse.

Gibson Affordance Theory

The perception theorist J. J. Gibson (Gibson, 1979) radically changed ideas about human perception:

Gibson assumed that we perceive in order to operate on the environment. Perception is designed for action. Gibson called the perceivable possibilities for action affordances. He claimed that we perceive affordance properties of the environment in a direct and immediate way. This theory is clearly attractive from the perspective of visualization. The goal of most visualization is decision making. In short, Gibson claims that we perceive possibilities for action. i.e. surfaces for walking, handles for pulling, space for navigation, tools for manipulating, etc. In general, our whole evolution has been geared toward perceiving useful possibilities for action.

Affordance example: (Norman, 1988)

You are approaching a door through which you eventually want to pass. The door, and the manner in which it is secured to the wall, permits opening by pushing it from its ‘closed’ position. We say that the door affords (or allows, or is for) opening by pushing. On approaching that door you observe a flat plate fixed to it at waist height on the ‘non-hinge’ side, and possibly some sticky finger marks on its otherwise polished surface. You deduce that the door is meant to be pushed open: you therefore push on the plate, whereupon the door opens and you pass through. Here, there is a perceived affordance, triggered by the sight of the plate and the finger marks, that is identical with the actual affordance. Note that the affordance we discuss is neither the door nor the plate: it is a property of the door (the door affords opening by pushing ). [My emphasis]

Norman, D. (1988). The Psychology of Everyday Things , New York, Basic Books, pp. 87-92.

The Wikipedia entry on Affordance is also interesting as it leads on to post cognitivist ideas within psychology which relate to affordance theories. The term is also linked to graphical design and human-computer interaction.

Here is a blog by a designer about his daughter’s reaction to buttons.
You can follow through to a discussion as well.

Here is a commercial training company’s understanding of the term in relation to e-learning. If you scroll down there is a good range of web pages with some critique on how well they offer ‘affordance’. Do things which look clikable turn out not to be clickable for example.

Here is another blog about ‘drag and drop’. Drag and drop in general is generally a good example of affordance (which I take to mean usability in a pragmatic sense of a no technical user). You will notice references to Ajax here. Ajax is not 1) A Greek Hero nor 2) Some kind of scouring agent. Ajax is 3) A web development programme which helps to create drag and drop however this blog points out that:

The problem with drag-and-drop is that it doesn’t have any affordances. You can’t tell when you’ve encountered an element that is dragable. The result is that this powerful capability is often only known by developers.

This blogger (Jared Spool) is a web designer and a key issue is managing to make thigs easy for users. Of course if they did media degrees they would know that one of the most important things to do is to test out products on audiences before general release as Hollywood does. Several endings are shot at the same time. ‘Affordance means’ audience testing!

This blog ends with a useful set of comments and discussion for people who know something about the technologies (not I). This leads into a a different page on the notion of perceived affordance.

This glossary also led me to the useful term Minesweeping which for non- initiates describes the process when one clicks wildly all over the screen to try and find something interactive. When this happens there is clearly a lack of ‘affordance’.

For educationalists seeking to develop materials and environments for students the issue of affordance is very important. If the pages aren’t set out effectively then students will ignore them. The answer to this is always evaluate your work well with students to see how they cope. Take their problems and comments on board, remember they are the audience.

Examples of Affordance

Thematic Navigation and Contextual Navigation

This entry explains how the tagging system in Warwick Blogs works. This is a very good example of good practice in which alternative paths to providing the content which a target user is likely to be interested in are made available.

... each item of content is also classified as pertaining to one or more themes. These themes run across the whole site, and may appear in any context. For example, the theme ‘Writing Skills’ may be assigned to any page. In Sitebuilder and Warwick Blogs, themes are applied using a taxonomically consistent set of keyword tags. So for example, this blog entry, and many others in Warwick Blogs, contains the tag ‘E-learning’, indicating that it is of that theme. When carried out in such a systematic way, keyword tagging may build an alternative way of organising web content, independent (or on top of) of contextual navigation. Furthermore, each page may contain more than one theme, thus providing sense about the relationship between themes as expresses in the page. The final element of thematic navigation is the provision of ways in which a user can see the available themes, and query for pages that contain those themes.

When Blogging: Take Care of the Humble Tag!

One important element of ‘affordance’ is empowering a user to get at the information they want in the most direct way possible. I have learnt as I have been developing this blog just how important the humble tag is. Initially I wasn’t certain of the best way of using them but as entries started to build up (blog builder) learning how to navigate for myself was very important. Only today I realise that I was tagging E_Learning not E-Learning. consequently I couldn’t access the developing discourse on this area. I had to change all the tagging on a number of entries.

Lesson 1. For good blog design which pays respect to affordance is organising your tags well.

Lesson 2. I suggest you ask your visitors to leave a message in the comments box if they find it difficult to navigate.

Lesson 3) To develop ‘affordance’ on this blog I have also placed an explanatory post on the lay out of the side bar and its relevance for the expected target audiences of the site. To increase the visual aids to navigation I have dropped clock widgets into the sidebar set at GMT. This helps to break the sidebar into sections. If you are familiar with Manuel Castells’ notion of ‘timeless time’ in the networked society you will enjoy the irony.


- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Robert O'Toole

    E-learning or elearning? I usually tag my entries with both. It’s annoying! Personally I prefer learning_technology, but its too late to change!

    02 Jan 2007, 10:35


Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.

December 2006

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Nov |  Today  | Jan
            1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

TAG McLaren Clock :-)

Search this blog

Google Adsense

Most recent comments

  • Hello by <script>window.location("google.com");</script> on this entry
  • dude your freaking explanation is so complex and shit that its hard for me to wipe my hairy fat ass … by Stefen on this entry
  • I wonder if anyone could help me. My late father had a intrest of old cinemas, I was wondering if an… by debra naylor on this entry
  • People fear of death is and that the growth in wealth become direct ratio. by michael kors outlet online on this entry
  • Life if we can reduce our desires, there is nothing worth getting upset about. by christian louboutin online shop on this entry

Adsense 3

Adsense Ad

BFI 75th Anniversary European Set

Reich Phases

French New Wave

Godard Story of Cinema

Malle Les Amants

Godard Bande a Part

Jean Luc Godard Collection Volume 1

British Film Institute

The BFI Glossary of Film Terms

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/education/glossary.html#new-wave
screenonline: Glossary of Film and Television Terms

BBC Film Network

http://www.bbc.co.uk/filmnetwork/
BBC – Film Network – Homepage

Land of Promise

Free Cinema

UK Film Council

http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/
The UK FILM COUNCIL

Malcolm McDowell Introduces British Free Cinema

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tours/mcdowell/tourmcdowell.html
screenonline: Malcolm McDowell on Free Cinema

Paul Merton Introduces Early British Comedy

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tours/merton/tourmerton1.html
screenonline: Paul Merton on Early British Comedy

Bill Douglas Centre

http://www.centres.ex.ac.uk/bill.douglas/menu.html
Welcome to the Bill Douglas Centre

Vertigo: British based journal about global independent cinema

http://www.vertigomagazine.co.uk/
Vertigo Magazine – for Worldwide Independent Film

Deutsche Film Portal

http://www.filmportal.de/df/3c/Artikel,,,,,,,,STARTSEITEENGLISHSTARTSEITEENGLI,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.html
filmportal.de

The Berlin Film Museum

http://osiris2.pi-consult.de/view.php3?show=5100002920142
Filmmuseum Berlin – Deutsche Kinemathek

Goethe Institute London Film Pages

http://www.goethe.de/ins/gb/lon/kue/flm/enindex.htm
Goethe-Institut London – The Arts – Film

Expressionist film

German Expressionism

Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung

http://www.murnau-stiftung.de/index_static.html
Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

Eureka Metropolis

Eureka Nosferatu

Fassbinder Vol 1

Run Lola Run

Das Experiment

Lives of Others

Senses of Cinema

Bacon Visconti

Bondanella Italian Cinema

Italian Neorealism Rebuilding the Cinematic City

Visconti The Leopard

Rocco and His Brothers

Visconti's Ossessione

Neorealist Collection

Framework a Peer assessed Film and Media Journal

http://www.frameworkonline.com/index2.htm
Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media

Kinoeye. No relation to this blog. Cinema journal mainly focused upon Central & Eastern Europe

http://www.kinoeye.org/index_04_05.php
Kinoeye | Polish cinema | Vol 4.05, 29 November 2004

Cineuropa: A joint initiative

http://www.cineuropa.org/aboutmission.aspx?lang=en&treeID=879
Cineuropa – About us – Our Mission

Talk About Films: the Independent and Foreign Films Discussion Group Go to 'Invalid Account'

Invalid Account
Ourmedia RSS feed

The World in 2007: The Economist Go to 'The Economist'

The Economist
Audio content from The Economist magazine, including interviews with journalists and experts on world politics, business, finance, economics, science, technology, culture and the arts.

BBC News UK Edition Go to 'BBC News - UK'

Eureka Shoah

Lanzmann's shoah

Haunted Images: Film & Holocaust

Adsense 4

Blog archive

Loading…
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder
© MMXIX