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Describe the affordances and constraints of email as an ICT tool for learning.

- use the four points below to guide your work.


1) Introduce the concepts of affordances and constraints; and explain briefly which learning
theories support use of ICT (based on Unit 2).
2) Identify and clearly describe at least 1 detailed example of affordances and 1 other example of
constraints within your own classroom or professional environment.
3) Recommend at least 1 possible solutions that you can realistically implement to work around
the constraints that you have described in item 2.
4) Briefly describe the steps you can take to proactively implement your solutions.
(read further below to learn how you should use the grading rubric to earn high marks)

Describe the affordances and constraints of email as an ICT tool for


learning.

According to Donald Norman (1988) in his book The Design of Everyday Things, the term
affordances can be defined as the perceived and actual properties of something, primarily those
fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used. An example
of this would be the mouse on a computer; once it is touched and manipulated the cursor moves
around on the screen of the monitor indicating that it is working. No manual or instructions are
needed to explain how it works; the user just looks and knows what to do. A constraint is usually
used to restrict or limit something, the Free Dictionary defines the term as, the threat or use of
force to prevent, restrict or dictate the action or thought of others. According to the Unit one
readings, both affordances and constraints complement each other and all elements of the
learning environment may have affordances and constraints. According to the unit two
readings, constructivist theories support the use of ICT. The reflection oriented learning theories
which consist of; self-regulated learning, Kolbs experiential learning and problem-based
learning. There are also the social learning theories that support ICT, these include Vygotskys
social development theory, situated cognition theory and the cognitive apprenticeship theory. All
of these theories support the use of ICT as a learning tool, thus the use of emails.
Primary school students in my country were given laptops, thus all of the children in my
classroom received one. The students were elated to receive the laptops and couldnt wait to
start using them to do various activities. However, it was the first time a lot of the students were
using a laptop and the operating system that came with it. Also a reliable internet connection
was needed so that the students could do research, send emails and other social activities.
Although all schools were equipped with internet connection, it wasnt always reliable and a lot

of the students had no internet connection at home. Overtime because the students didnt have
the proper prerequisites on the use of these laptops a lot of them got damaged and were unable to
be used. The affordance here is the laptop that each child received, which they could use to send
and receive emails from teachers and peers to aid in their learning. Whilst the constraint is the
lack of knowledge and skills required to use the laptop properly along with a reliable internet
connection.
One way this problem could have been avoided was for each child and teacher to receive
prerequisite training. This training could have been done at the school or class level. The unit
two readings state, problem based learning communication tools such as Skype and email can
be used by learners to obtain expert opinions in developing multi-perspectives on problems.
Thus, emails can be used to facilitate the teaching and learning process especially when it comes
to problem solving. Students and teachers can liaise with peers and colleagues thus forming
educational networks. These networks could be formulated so that students who are strong can
help those who are weak.

References
Interaction Design Foundation: Affordances. Viewed 24th Sept, 2014. Retrieved from:
http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/affordances.html
Norman, Donald A. (1988): The Design of Everyday Things. New York
The Free Dictionay by Farlex. Constraint. Viewed: 24th Sept, 2014.Retrieved from
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Constraints
University of the West Indies. Unit 1 Development and Characteristics of ICT.
University of the West Indies. Unit 2- Learning Theories that Guide ICT- Mediated Learning.