Distributed Cognition & Interaction strategies | Reading Morgan, et al.

Morgan, M., Brickell, G., Harper, B. (2008). Applying distributed cognition theory to the redesign of the ‘Copy and Paste’ function in order to promote appropriate learning outcomes.  Computers & Education, 50(1), 125-147.


“Bringing the internal cognitive resources of the individual (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1971) into coordination with the external resources available in the environment is important in order to promote effective learning. The design of effective learning environments therefore depends on the ability of instructional designers to understand the cognitive impact of mediating artifacts (Vygotsky, 1980) on the cognition of learners and to design mediating artifacts with the appropriate configuration of affordances and constraints.” p. 126


“… all cognition takes place in the context of activity that it makes use of a variety of mediating artifacts, and that activities occur in social contexts. Successful cognition can also be viewed as the extent to which the individual is able to make use of the affordances of the mediating artifacts available to them. According to Vygotsky, mediating artifacts can represent a range of tangible and intangible resources available in the environment.  They can be as diverse as physical tools, such as instruments on an aircraft , to procedures that are employed in certain situations, to a range of signs and symbols, such as language and mathematics.” p. 127


“… learners need to be encouraged to undertake re-crafting of their environment to assist them in their cognitive activities, thereby developing and practicing the skill of constructing mediating artifacts that fix patterns of thinking in ‘permanent or semi-permanent forms’ that can be propagated for later use.” p. 128


“The process of embedding interaction strategies into the interface for the learner is intended to alter, rather than to simply reduce, the cognitive load on the learner. Instead of being shown an interaction strategy, and expecting the learner to implement the strategy using their own cognitive resources, an embedded strategy emerges as a consequence of using the interface. This allows the learner’s cognitive resources to be focused on interacting with and understanding the content.” p. 129


“It is theorised that maximum learning effects can be derived from an interaction strategy that requires learners to manipulate content extensively, allows the learner time to manipulate the content, requires the learner to complete some form of task with the content in order to understand it, such as elaboration, categorisation, or summarization, and that alters its form significantly.” p. 131