Re: [xmca] online tools and analysis

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Jan 23 2006 - 16:44:52 PST

Hi Donna--

I did not see this before responding to Don who appeared to be responding to
me. But your note is certainly relevant.
People like Giddens and many others point out that constraints are double
sided-- both constraining and enabling. Peg
warned us that we need the term effectivities which, if I understand
correctly, are affordances as incorporated in action
(but I probably do not understand correctly-- I am cc'ing Jerrry Balzano who
knows much more about Gibsonian thinking
than I do). Don warned us about over/mis-using the term, affordances. This
is a gigantic ball of wax.

And while we are at it, I worry about your use of the term, technologies, in
the first sentence of the para below. I know that you
are referring to technologies that involve online learning environments as
now conventionally understood, but from my perspective
technologies (in general) have not become "more and more a part of human
interactions." Their material forms (and dare I say,
affordances) may have changed from the days before the advent of writing,
but language certainly counts as a technology for me,
never mind a pencil. I am guessing you agree and are using a shorthand, but
Don is pointing us toward problems in our use of
terms and I think the issue is worth taking seriously. I feel on fuzzy, if
not muddy, ground here.

On 1/23/06, Russell, Donna L <> wrote:
> When I address the issue of how people interact in online learning
> environments, the most important aspect I try to understand is
> meaning-making in the online environment- I try consider affordances and
> constraints in both a technological and psychological aspect using AT- as in
> how the online environment makes these communications possible in response
> to the design of the online interactions, the contraints in the types of
> dialogs, the timing of interactions, multicultural interactions, the goals
> of the users, the work activity of the users and try to gauge on how
> effectively the design of the online space meets the needs/goals of the
> users.
> I also wonder as technologies become more and more a part of all human
> interactions where these tools will end up in the spectrum of
> meaning-making-- do the affordances and contraints of the online forum
> control the meaning-making potential or do the users? So if a meter
> stick falls in the woods does it measure something? Is the meaning embedded
> in the tool or in the use of it?
> Also an issue for me - the quality of the data when researching online- I
> miss the ability to talk with people about their goals, visit their classes
> and observe --- to understand their work from a closer perspective. Can I
> address meaning-making without this quality or granularity of
> understanding? Is that e-CHAT or virtual CHAT?
> Donna
> Donna L. Russell, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Instructional Technology
> Curriculum and Instructional Leadership
> Suite 309
> School of Education
> University of Missouri-Kansas City
> Kansas City, MO 64110
> (cell) 314.210.6996
> (office) 816.235.5871
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Peg Griffin" <>
> To: "'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'" <>
> Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 2:18 PM
> Subject: RE: [xmca] constraints, affordances and semiotic potentials
> > And, as Ann Brown often reminded me, effectivity is a necessary
> complement
> > to affordance in the Gibson world. How does that fit into your
> commentary,
> > please, bb?
> > Peg
> >
> Donna L. Russell, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Instructional Technology
> Curriculum and Instructional Leadership
> School of Education
> University of Missouri-Kansas City
> (email) <>
> (website) <
> (cell) 314.210.6996
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
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