This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Do affordances make that much difference or 10 things to use a mug for?

Getting back to ocTEL after a break imposed by too many other things to do, this week weve been asked to think about how different tools might relate to Kolbs model of learning styles as depicted here’s_learning_styles_businessballs.jpg.  I started off thinking this was pretty straightforward but as I added platforms and tools into the diagram I began to think that perhaps its not so simple.  It depends to some extent on the affordances of the tool but also maybe on the purpose of the person using it.  Take Youtube for example, it could be used by someone who wants to watch and either think about a topic (assimilator) or someone who wants to watch and feel their emotions stirred (diverger) Or to put that another way a teacher may want to use video to deliver a powerful emotional experience in order to engage student interest, and then ask them to think about it less emotively, to understand how it was constructed for example. But its possible to envisage a series of  learning activities built around the video clip that require learners to do things as well as watch things, so video seems to fit in all the quadrants of the diagram. Trying out another example, blogs, I came to the same conclusion. Maybe its because they are both narrative media and thus essentially similar? What about clickers then?  Well, clickers could be used by learners to record their emotions (click every time you feel angry/sad/amused/etc. while listening to/watching/reading/doing XYZ), so they are seemingly compatible with the diverger style, but if the results were collected together and displayed and the class were asked to reflect on them then wouldn’t that support the assimilator style? And what if the clicking action was actually an active task such as “click each time you spot concept X being used in this narrative”  or “every time you get a sum right, click to advance your on-screen avatar one step closer to the goal”. Wouldn’t that  mean that the clicker was compatible also with accommodating and converging (doing) styles?  So maybe the affordances of the tool are less important than the imagination and intentions of the user….after all , its easy to think of 10 things to use a mug for, none of which include drinking beverages.

Ex-OU, EX-BT Distance Learning. Currently Visiting Fellow Centre for Distance Education, University of London , Head of School of Media and Communication, De Montfort University, Leicester and Professor of Learning Technologies.

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