Affordances that amplify disengagement

It seems likely there are affordances that amplify negative effects and dampen positive effects. Learners might be slightly bored before associating with such an affordance and then be "bored out of their skulls". Facilitated by the affordance, they could be watching an interaction for what to say and then feel "totally silenced" by the patterns they recognize. The learners could be on the brink of connecting new content to their own previous concepts, experiences and praxis until the affordance took affect and convinced them the work of connecting was a "complete was of time".

Note that these are extreme reactions that follow tentative explorations. Something about the "amplifier affordance" must be translating tentative experiences to extreme formulations. That raises several follow-up questions:
  • Does the affordance appear to be going to extremes itself, and inducing "monkey see monkey do" imitation behaviors?
  • Does the affordance send a message of exclusivity, superiority or intolerance which transforms the experience of the learner into feeling excluded, inferior or rejected?
  • Does the affordance prescribe a range of tolerable participation, interaction and contributions that excludes what the learners are ready, willing and able to share?
  • Does the affordance downplay early signs of student engagement while making a big deal out of controlling the conversation, staying on message and covering the material?
  • Does the affordance send mixed messages like "do as I say, don't do as I do" or "do what's required, don't recognize toxic patterns in this relationship"?
If the answers to any of these questions is "yes", there is a disconnect between form and function. The affordance was not designed to escalate disengagement. The effects are unintentional. The evidence of amplifying disengagement would likely be dissociated, put into denial and poised to shoot any messengers who expose it.

Fixing the negative amplification is not easy at the level of the affordance. Like the steaming tea kettle that will explode by plugging the hole that's whistling, there's a need to find a way to turn down the fire producing the steam, not fix the affordance. Situations like these work themselves out when they are open to user feedback, seeking to align with user experiences and receptive to user ideas for improvements. Discovering the tool plays into amplified disengagement gets regarded as a gift, lesson or invitation to collaborate. of course, the opposite reaction occurs in closed systems devoted to the use of the affordance "at all cost" without regard to whether it's working or how it effects the users.

No comments:

Post a Comment