Digital Affordances 

This reflection focuses on Activity 8 Digital Affordances. I approached this activity by reading the recommended reading provided for this module, this led me to additional readings. I wanted to understand the definition of “affordance”. Starting with Hutchby, I. (2001). Technologies, texts and affordances and using some of the citations from this work I read into the subject.

One of my clear observations was the relevancy to studies carried out in the 1960’s and 1970’s and even as far back at 1935. But it was Gibson’s (1979) Ecological Approach to Perception which gave me a clearer understanding of the definition of Affordances.

As I am sure is the same for everybody, in order to understand something I need to make it relatable to my previous understanding. I like the way Gibson (1979) refers to an affordance using animals as an example “a rock has an affordance for a reptile… shelter from the cold or to bask in the heat of sun” This really helped me to understand this topic much more clearly.

Hutchby also links to Gestalt Theory as developed by Koffka (1935) which explains that the human eye and brain perceive a unified shape in a different way, they perceive the individual parts of those shapes. This is a theory which I teach within design and has allowed me to relate to Hutchby’s points by linking to the initial developments of the idea.

I have heard of Toffler’s (1981) 3rd Wave theory; the invention of computers caused a 3rd  wave in western culture. The 1st wave was agriculturism and the 2nd wave being industrialism. This is something I would be keen to further investigate.

I completely agree with Gibson’s (1979) idea of ‘technology is shaping society’ and states that it is the complex relationship between technology and the different forms and way a user interacts with technology.

I can see within my practise how students and other teachers can interpret technology very differently to how I would interpret technology. It is important I leave my students to read the technology to come to their own conclusions and allow creativity to use the technology for different uses, to encourage the growth of their learning and society.


Reference List

Gibson, J. J. 1979. The Ecological Approach to Perception. London: Houghton Mifflin.

Hutchby, I. (2001). Technologies, texts and affordances. Sociology35(2), 441-456.

Koffka, K. 1935. Principles of Gestalt Psychology. London: Routledge.

Toffler,A.1981. The Third Wave. London: Collins.


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