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The affordances and constraints of email as an ICT tool for learning

In todays changing world the use of Information and Communication

Technologies (ICTs) has permeated every aspect of our daily lives. We live in the
information era where ICTs cannot be separated from our daily needs, so much so that it
impacts how we learn and communicate. One such ICT technology is the internet which
is used as a tool to enhance learning and education through the use of emails. This
resource which can be used to enhance of childrens learning has many affordances and
constraints, which are not opposite from each other but is necessary for learning to take
place. The development of affordances is attributed to psychologist, J. J. Gibson (1977,
1979), this was the core component in his ecological theory of human perception.
Currently, affordance is defined by (Kirschner, 2002), as the relationship between
properties of an educational intervention and the characteristics of the learner that enable
certain kinds of learning to take place whereby, constraints are the relationships and
conditions amid characteristics which provides guidance and structure for the course of
action. Furthermore, theorist (Lev Vygotsky, 1978), social learning theory supports the
use of ICT as a learning tool in that, he believed children learn from interacting with
people within their environment and culture that the use of language is fundamental in
fostering this interaction. He also posits that an important aspect of children's learning is
associated with their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which is activated by
interaction of people within their environment.
The affordances of the email within my classroom environment is used as a communication
and information sharing tool. It is used to share information with the administrative staff
regarding upcoming meetings and events. Additionally, it is also used in parent-teacher

communication, as a means in sharing information on students academic progress or lack

thereof, behavioural challenges, and schedule meetings.
Concurrently, there are constraints in using e-mail as a medium to communicate with staff
and parents. Despite the technological advances in today's world, using e-mails to
communicate with parents can inhibit parent-teachers partnerships as many think it
somewhat impersonal and rather face-to-face meetings.
Subsequently, to overcome the aforementioned constraint, as it relates to parents, measures
would be implemented to address whatever concerns we are experiencing with students,
so instead of sending an e-mail, two-way dialogue between teachers-parents will be
encouraged, and the same applies to staff members.
Hence, the steps that can be taken to implement the solution
Planning frequent parent-teacher conferences
Communicating with parents via telephone
Setting up a notice board that parents can refer to view upcoming events
Frequent staff meetings to address their concerns
In summary, it must be noted that affordances and constraints go hand in hand, one cannot
function without the other and can impact learning in a positive or negative way. Hence,
the reason as educators we must be aware of the affordances so there will be minimal
interruptions in relation to the constraints and children can achieve success in using ICTs
as a tool to enhance their learning.

Conole, G., & Dyke, M., (2004). What are the affordances in information technologies?
:Research in learning technologies, 12 (2). Retrieved from
Kirschner, P., (2002). Designing electronic collaborative learning environment. Retrieved
University of the West Indies, Open Campus., (2014). EDTK 2030 Readings: Learning
theories that guide ict-mediated learning.