What is an Affordance?

An affordance is what the environment "provides or furnishes" for an individual, but crucially this is a relational concept; whether or not an affordance becomes apparent depends on the needs of the individual at a specific point in time. In this 'ecological' view of the world, digital technologies are understood not as technically deterministic entities which have the power to impact education regardless of context, but more as part of a system together with the educator. Only by first analysing the needs and intentions of the educator using AIM models can the best technology be aligned with those needs, and hence positively impact learning outcomes.

A little history

The term affordance was coined by the ecological psychologist James J Gibson external link icon in the 1970s. It is a relativistic concept, and one that is often misunderstood as something simple and technologically deterministic. In reality it is the bedrock of how individuals make sense of the world around them, as it provides a way of understanding the meaning of objects in the world relative to an individual.