Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Teachers Must Understand Technology Affordances to be Effective

When using technology for learning or for designing a project-based learning experience, a teacher needs to understand the affordances of various technological tools and resources. This post is an excerpt from my textbook, Educational Technology for Teachers.

A general definition of affordances is “the […] properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used (Norman, 2002, p. 9).” To clarify, affordances are the things that a particular tool or technology can do well. For instance, a word processing application allows the user to efficiently write a paper or letter. It offers many features that assist in this process including the possibility to write, edit, check spelling and do many more activities. These are the affordances of a word processing application. A presentation software application has many affordances that allow the user to easily create a visual presentation. These affordances might include functions that allow you to apply a theme, add new slides, insert title and slide text, and save and share a presentation.

High-quality learning experiences will often take advantage of the affordances of whatever technologies are used. The opposite is also true. Low-quality learning experiences often do not take advantage of the affordances of technologies.

So, teachers must understand technology affordances to be effective!

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