Pedagogical Affordance of ICT in Education Literature Review

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Pedagogical Affordance

ICT and Education

Many agencies and governments -- federal, state, and local -- have devoted considerable resources to technology in public elementary and secondary schools. These Information Communication Technology (ICT) resources have taken many forms: hardware, software, professional development, and technical support (Puma, Chaplin, & Pape, 2000; Smerdon, Cronen, Lanahan, Anderson, Iannotti, & Angeles, 2000).

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Information literacy (IL) is an essential skill to have in today's world. The American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Committee on IL defines IL as a set of abilities whereby an individual is able to recognize the need for information, as well as to locate, evaluate, and use the needed information effectively (ALA Presidential Committee on IL, 1989). More specifically, information literacy can be regarded as "the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information" (ALA, 2007, Para. 1). As the world becomes more technologically advanced and dependent on the quick transfer and retrieval of information, IL will be equated with the ability to formulate informed decisions in many aspects of life. In post-secondary education, IL might be introduced through writing research papers or studying from textbooks; however, IL skills are not adequately obtained simply by doing basic coursework tasks alone (ALA, 2007). According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) (2007), IL enables individuals to master content and extend the range of their search in order to become self-directed and obtain better control over their learning. Therefore, IL serves as a foundation for life-long learning in that it can be shared between various learning environments and disciplines (ALA, 2006).

Literature Review on Pedagogical Affordance of ICT in Education Assignment

There are many studies on the importance of ICT in education for example, Susan saw computers as a means to perform traditional work better and more efficiently, but not essential to accomplishing assignments; she presented demonstrations and students performed calculations on computers. Rick viewed computers as a way of transforming educational/learning processes by using them as a means for students to ask and answer their questions using ICT resources like the Internet and multi-media authoring programs.

Marshall's (2006) insisted that instructors should design higher education courses that promote IL as the object of learning as well as the medium by which student learning can occur. In tandem with Marshall's views, ALA (2007) suggests that there is a need for an IL parallel curriculum in order to develop a solid base of IL in post-secondary education, but ALA does not elaborate on the meaning of the term "parallel curriculum" with respect to IL.

The acquisition of appropriate and timely IL skills (i.e., in terms of online courses and online search) are important for graduate students, and the lack of these skills may affect graduate students' success in keeping up with the technologically-oriented demands of their programs (i.e., online courses, online research, etc.). Indeed, graduate students' lack of adequate IL skills can negatively impact upon their ability to perform research related tasks. Many researchers are in accord that IL skills are important for graduate students (Barrett, 2005; Beile O'Neil, 2005; Cannon, 2007; Sadler & Given, 2007)

In addition to the IT skills for students there is also a wide variety of research on the importance of ICT for teachers. Norton, McRobbie, and Cooper (2000) examined two questions in a case study of five mathematics teachers at a private girls high school in Australia. The authors framed their study with two images of teaching and learning -- transmission, or teacher-centered, and construction, or student centered -- that described teachers' beliefs about teaching and learning mathematics. The two foci of inquiry were: (1) the connections between teachers' beliefs about teaching mathematics and their attitudes toward using computers in their mathematics teaching; and (2) an examination of the ways staff discourse facilitated or hindered the use of computers.

The authors conducted the research at a private girl's school with substantial ICT resources -- the student to computer ratio was 2:1. Based on initial survey data from eight mathematics teachers, Norton, McRobbie, and Cooper (2000) selected three senior teachers to interview and observe. The authors chose the participants based on the criterion that these teachers were education leaders whose ideas strongly influenced the way mathematics was taught because of "their ideas, actions, and beliefs about the nature of mathematics and their images of teaching and learning" (p. 90). Two of the three teachers represented the teacher centered transmission mode of teaching and one teacher represented a student-centered constructivist mode of teaching.

In selecting participants from a large initial pool, Laffey (2004) looked for "evidence of technology use and ways in which students showed valuing or resisting the use of technology" (p. 364); in this sense meaning acceptance or rejection of ICT. As the study progressed, Laffey noted that new students entering the education program had more experience with technology. Their ICT comfort level rose because of prior experience before entering the program and training they received in the program. However, as they worked in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, gaining understanding of ECE classrooms and the expectations of administrators and parents, they anticipated lower levels of technology use (thus, rejection of ICT) in the classroom with students. ECE pre-service teachers felt their students would be too young to be taught to use technology; they argued for concrete empirical experience. Laffey's findings have shown that participating pre-service teachers planned to use technology as teachers outside the classroom (research, communication with peers and administrators, materials preparation) but resisted seeing technology as a part of their relationship with children -- again, rejection of ICT as an education innovation, even though they demonstrated moderate to high efficacy with ICT resources.

Analysis of explicit ICT expectations as they have appeared in government policy papers during the past decade in Denmark forms the basis of Mathiasen's study (2004) of a Danish high school with extensive technology resources. In this school all students and teachers had laptop computers. The author observed 10 teachers and 22 students over three years, the course of a Danish student through high school.

Mathiasen (2004) explored the expectation that communicative media, exemplified by the laptop computer, would change the nature of teaching and learning. He asked the following questions: what did teachers and students actually do when the intensive application of ICT in teaching became a possibility? And, what were students' approaches to and experiences with the use of laptops in teaching?

2. Affordance Theory

Affordances are perceived opportunities for action in the environment (Gibson, 1979). Also, affordances are defined as perceived potential utilities of an object (Affordances [n.d.], Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2010). Affordances can be based in the visual perceptions of the natural world (Gibson, 1979), as well as industrial design (Norman, 1988), with the notion that our past knowledge and experiences are applicable to our perception about the things around us (Sadler & Given, 2007).

Affordance Theory "states that the world is perceived not only in terms of object shapes and spatial relationships but also in terms of object possibilities for action (affordances) -- perception drives action" (Learning Theories Knowledge Base, 2010, para.1). This theory emphasizes that perception of the environment directs the course of action (Learning Theories Knowledge Base, 2010).

The principal founder of Ecological Psychology, and the chief promulgator of Affordance Theory, James Gibson, argued that one's behavior (including information-seeking behavior) should be studied in the context of one's environment (Sadler & Given, 2007). In The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Gibson (1979) described the fundamental components of affordance:

The affordance of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. The verb to afford is found in the dictionary, but the noun affordance is not. I have made it up. 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 complementarily of the animal and the environment. (p.127)

Gibson claims the world consists simply of things perceived by an organism in its environment. Thus, for Gibson the world consists of affordances or opportunities for action. For instance, a large rock might be perceived by a reptile in a desert as a place to sunbathe, while for a human, that rock might be perceived as a building material. Hence, there is no accurate use for the rock except for the affordance supposed by those who perceive it. The core concept of affordance lies in the relationship between an organism and the environment (Gibson, 1979; Sadler & Given, 2007).

While Gibson's views of affordance are based in the visual perception of the natural world, Norman's (1988) views of affordance are associated with industrial design (Sadler & Given, 2007). Norman supports the notion that our past knowledge and experiences are applicable to our perception about the things around us. Ten years later, Norman (1999) observed that individuals are able to interact with thousands of objects even though they might have only encountered them once before, explaining that the appearance of an object can provide crucial signs necessary for its… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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