The last portfolio assignment for the Introduction course was to choose one of the technological tools we’ve used in ICT workshops and then to evaluate the affordances when using the tool. I chose Wikis for my evaluation. There was no special reason for my choice other than that I’m familiar with Wikis, I feel like I can use them efficiently for learning purposes and I understand the concept well.
I wasn’t familiar with affordances, though. Not before the lecture by Pirkko Hyvönen. According to her, affordances are action possibilities: reciprocal relation between people and their environment.
“Affordances of the environment are what it offers to animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment”
– Gibson, 1979, 127.
1. Social affordances in Wiki environments
Wiki environments offer their users possibility to work together, either cooperatively or collaboratively. You are granted the opportunity to add your own knowledge and ideas, but on the other hand all the content you’ve added is freely edited and assessed by others. This is a good affordance if you want your contribution to be further unraveled, but it can be also a bad affordance if you wish your contribution to have “immunity”.
2. Cognitive affordances in Wiki environments
Wiki environments offer the user flexibility in building an article or project: you can work whenever you want, wherever you want and whatever you want. Your own ideas are further processed or criticized which may end up giving you socio-cognitive conflicts!
3. Emotional affordances in Wiki environments
Wiki environments offer the sense of communality, the opportunity to be involved in something bigger than just your own work. Wikis may also grant negative emotional affordances; your contribution is under evaluation and critique. You can either use it as a motivator to further develop the ideas/contribution or as a judgment of your expertise, it might slam you down to earth.