The concept of affordances has become a popular analytical tool in educational technology. The present article, however, argues that the current understanding of affordances does not adequately address the use of educational technology and instead advocates a phenomenological reinterpretation. The article first introduces Gibson’s concept of affordances and describes how scholars in the field of educational technology have invoked this concept to compile lists of technical action possibilities. It then argues that affordances do not just ‘offer’ a range of action possibilities; they actively ‘invite’ certain actions. To explore how such behavioral invitations manifest themselves in the everyday use of educational technologies, the article introduces the analytical concepts of multistability, relational strategy, and mediation and uses these concepts to analyze the affordances of laptops in the classroom. It is argued that laptops act as powerful attentional magnets that often invite students to become distracted. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Aagaard, J. (2018). Magnetic and multistable: reinterpreting the affordances of educational technology. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 15(1).