At the same time, learners’ capacities to envisage and enact change are framed by their respective contexts and the material opportunities and constraints created by those contexts. This focus on contexts adds the crucial element of situatedness to the equation. Thus situated affordances (Fisher, Higgins, & Loveless 2006) constitute a powerful lens for analysing and understanding why, how, with whom and with which effects and effectiveness learners seek to shape and share learning in ways that – at least potentially – help to generate productive and even transformative change.
This paper interrogates these propositions by reference to a current multidisciplinary research project linking three Australian universities. The project is exploring the experiences and outcomes of digitally connected learning undertaken by two distinct groups of learners: Australian farmers and Australian teachers. The research related to farmers highlights how specific mobile devices and other forms of sharing knowledge afford farmers opportunities to enhance their understandings of how broader issues such as climate change and commodity prices affect their activities on their respective farms. The research pertaining to teachers investigates how pre-service and early career teachers are enabled to develop and sustain meaningful collegial relationships and partnerships by means of digital platforms for knowledge exchange (AUTHORS under contract).
The paper elaborates the divergences and convergences between the two sites of digitally connected learning. The divergences derive from the contextual specificities of each site, including the historically constructed and the currently positioned occupations of farming and teaching from both national and international perspectives. The convergences cluster around the analytical utility of situated affordances in helping to articulate how Australian farmers and teachers shape and share their learning and how they use that learning to generate meaningful and productive change, and hence how they contribute to creating dynamic learning futures, in their respective environments.
AUTHORS under contract. [Details removed for anonymous peer review.]
Fisher, T, Higgins, C & Loveless, A 2006, Teachers learning with digital technologies: a review of research and projects (Futurelab series) (Research report 14), Futurelab, Brighton, UK.
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Wright S & Parchoma G 2011, ‘Technologies for learning? An actor-network theory critique of “affordances” in research on mobile learning’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 247-258.