Distributed Cognition or Learning With Things

Assignment Description | Readings | Assessment | Technology Integration Observation Instrument | Videos Technology Integration|Dcog Resources

“…just as we say that a body is in motion, and not that motion is in a body, we ought to say that we are in thought, and not that thoughts are in us” — Charles Pierce, 1884

Due Date: Friday 11 December


How are a student’s capacities to learn augmented by the educational technologies they are learning with? Additionally, how are a teacher’s capacities to teach augmented by the educational technologies they are teaching with? What does/can it mean that cognition is distributed between and among students and the technologies they learn with and teachers and the technologies that augment their classroom practices? What does it mean to think with technology?

A Concept Map about Ancient Egypt and the Pyramids

To study and learn about distributed cognition and what it means to learn with things (tools, digital technologies, and more), you are to produce a concept map about distributed cognition. This is a semester-long exploration. New pedagogical and technological concepts related to distributed cognition will be encountered throughout the semester through ongoing discussions, hands on activities, “field” observations, readings, and research. And as they are, incorporate them into your concept map, indicate how they are related to other concepts already included and, more broadly, to the very idea of distributed cognition.

Don’t worry, you are not in this alone; cognition is also distributed between and among people. Yes, this is a collaborative project. And as the semester begins, you will be joined by 3 or 4 other students to form a learning circle. Using the collaborative online application, Mindomo, together in your learning circle, you will build a single concept map. Including many informational nodes, titles, explanations, quotes, images, links, embedded videos and more, together with your learning circle, you will design and build a concept map to learn about and to demonstrate your understanding of distributed cognition.

There will be a series of Mindomo workshops in the beginning of the semester. As well, there are additional tutorials available at the Mindomo website.

Take notice, technology is all around you in every nook and cranny of the classroom. There’s a lot of technology not recognized as such.  For instance, consider a chalkboard. Why not just write things on Post-it Notes? And recognize that there are technologies embedded within technologies; we have an entire reading about the cut & paste function of word processing!

The objective is to build a concept map to demonstrate your understanding of distributed cognition.  Do not assume that your readers understand distributed cognition. Use rich examples such as hands-on learning experiences, field observations and discussions to support definitions and explanations of the concepts you choose to include. The technologies that we are studying in class, WordPress, video games, digital storytelling and concept mapping, will be familiar to everyone in your learning circle, think with these about distributed cognition and what it means to learn with things. Include ideas from the readings in your concept map, use pull quotes, and more to support your work.


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