It will be an entirely new experience for me and I can see that I will learn a lot so I'm using this blog to record some of my experiences and reflections for my co-participants.
My first task is to familiarise myself with the various technologies and platforms that are being used. Here's a map of the technologies I have started to use. If you want to make your own illustration you can download the powerpoint slide that I used to make the jpeg.
Powerpoint slide of the technologies I'm using
I'm currently writing about ecologies for learning and in particular about the idea of affordance. I imagine that this course will offer significant affordance for so many things but the detail will only emerge as I involve myself in this environment and I create my own process for learning. Much has been written about affordance and I have yet to fully comprehend what it means and make it meaningful to me in my own life. My current understanding is based on what various authorities have said:
The environment includes qualitative regions of functional significance (affordances) that are visible to individuals with reciprocal skills (effectivities) and the intention to act (Gibson, 1986).
Affordance resides neither in the learner nor in the object, technology or environment, but in the relationship between the two (Williams et al 2008:17)
An affordance is an action possibility formed by the relationship between an agent and its environment ...... (Nye and Silverman 2012).
While these possibilities for action exist as part of the environment, their meaning is realized only through the individuals interacting with their environment. From an ecological perspective, perception is a property of an ecosystem—not of an agent.
Barab and Roth 2006: 4)
[t]he agent (i.e., an individual learner) is a closed (but unbounded) set of effectivities, or goal-directed functions, that identify the potential actions of the animal [individual] and that complement the affordances. The environment is a closed (but unbounded) set of affordances, or functionally defined goals, that identify the potential perceptions of the animal and that complement the effectivities. (Turvey & Shaw, 1979 :206)
A perceived affordance .......requires an agent to be aware of the affordance, either through direct perception or experience.... a perceived affordance is primarily a relationship between an agent’s cognition and the environment (Nye and Silverman 2012).
A perceived affordance describes a potential for action, the perceived capacity of an object to enable the assertive will of the actor (Williams et al 2008)
In the context of this course I can see (perceived affordance) that by connecting people who are interested in exploring something together and creating a virtual environment with technological tools to enable interaction, that there is new possibility for action. I can anticipate that there is good potential for new learning (and creativity) to emerge from conversations and other forms of communication. So at this level I can anticipate affordance based on past knowledge and experience of broadly similar situations. I can also anticipate that I will by observing others see affordances that they can see but I can't. But I cannot yet appreciate affordances that will emerge from the situations that have yet to be imagined and enacted.
If an affordance is a possibility for action by an individual, an effectivity is the dynamic actualisation of an affordance......an effectivity set constitutes those behaviours that an individual can..produce so as to realise and even generate affordance networks. When an individual has a particular effectivity set, he or she is more likely to perceive and interact with the world in certain ways—even noticing certain shapes of networks that are unavailable to others (Barab and Roth 2006:6)
Once I realise an affordance by acting on my perception of the situation's potential for action I will be developing and demonstrating my effectivity for realising some aspects of affordance in this particular situation and context. But what actually emerges from the situation - the actualised potential - might be quite different to what I thought might emerge. Also I know will learn from others who are more experienced than I am with these technologies ie knowledge about the affordance of an object can be learnt through social practice. After this experience I will have learnt something about the affordance of the objects and processes I am involved in and the insights and capability I gain can then be drawn upon in future situations.
Barab, S. A. and Roth, W. M. (2006) Curriculum-Based Ecosystems: Supporting Knowing From an Ecological Perspective. Available at: http://people.ucsc.edu/~gwells/Files/Courses_Folder/documents/BarabRothEDRES-2006.pdf
Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Goldstone, R. L., & Son, J. Y
Nye, B. D. & Silverman, B. G. (2012). Affordance. In N. M. Seel (Ed.),Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 179-183). New York, NY: Springer. Available at: http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1682&context=ese_papers
Turvey, M. T., & Shaw, R. E. (1979). The primacy of perceiving: An ecological reformulation of perception for understanding memory. In L. G. Nilsson (Ed.), Perspectives on memory research (167–222). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Williams, R.T., Karousou, R., & Gumtau, S. (2008). Affordances for learning and research (Final project report for the Higher Education Academy). Available at: http://learning-affordances.wikispaces.com/Project+Report