The Affordances of Classroom Technologies:
What is your understanding of the affordances of the type of technology you are wanting to use?
Affordances are the characteristics or qualities of a text that enable people to do things. For example, the affordances of digital texts such as a strategic placing of a link on a website provides a cohesive tie to another digital text to create meaning (Honan, 2012, p. 61 & 70). Tags are another example, with tags at the bottom of this post enabling links to other relevant material. By taking a sociocultural view of literacy, the way a person interacts with these affordances of technology depends on their identity, experience and the context in which they are engaged.
Identifying technological affordances of e-learning tools such as the smartphone can enable the scaffolding of learning to develop interactions within a given context. There are a variety of educational and social affordances unique to mobile handheld devices such video streaming capabilities, geotagging, micro-blogging, text notifications, social networking, and QR codes (Cochrane & Bateman, 2010, p. 5). This combination of hardware and software enables interaction between user and object (Bower, 2008) to facilitate learning experiences and engage with texts that consider the new affordances available in digital spaces.
Software in Classrooms:
When should students start word processing? As soon as they begin formal schooling. Scoter argues that word processing provides critical support allowing young writers to experiment more easily with ideas and expression rather than the physical constraints of handwriting (Scoter, 2008, pp. 151-152). However, I do acknowledge the need for students to develop the fine motor skills associated with handwriting but believe word processing encourages writing, increases motivation and explicitly improves writing skills.
Is it necessary to teach keyboarding skills? Time is better spent on teaching more important skills like digital literacies however, maximum exposure to keyboards will enable students to develop typing skills over time (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 136). With the emergence of mobile technologies, time would perhaps be better spent practicing skills related to gesture-based computing with handheld devices.
What effect does world processing have on handwriting? Word processing enhances document appearance and produces work that is more polished and professional than handwritten materials. This has lessened the importance of cursive handwriting, largely due to the infrequent opportunity to use this skill in the 21st century.
What impact does word processing have on assessment? Some educational institutions allow word processing to be used for essay-type tests, rather than handwriting (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 136). This allows students to focus on the content of their work rather than the presentation and saves valuable time.
Is the auto correction of spelling a problem? Auto correction improves text presentation and spelling accuracy, however, word processors tend to replace words that interfere with the intended meaning or context of simple sentences (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 136). Students need to be explicitly taught to edit their own work and be aware of the in-built mechanisms of auto-correct. The auto-correct feature used to type this blog is constantly trying to change the language to U.S. English with some minor spelling suggestions, mostly to do with the letter ‘z’ in words such as organisation/organization.
Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis: Matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45(1), 3-15.
Cochrane, T., & Bateman, R. (2010). Smartphones give you wings: Pedagogical affordances of mobile web 2.0. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 1-14.
Honan, E. (2012). Using digital texts to engage students. In R. Henderson (Ed.), Teaching Literacies in the Middle Years: Pedagogies and Diversity (pp. 57-80). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Intergrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Essex, UK: Pearson Education Limited.
Scoter, J. (2008). The potential of IT to foster literacy development in kindergarten. In J. Voogt, & G. Knezek (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (Vol. 20, pp. 149-162). Netherlands: Springer.