Distributed Cognition

Assignment Description | Readings | Assessment | Technology Integration Observation Instrument

“…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 Peirce, 1884

Based on your observations of a series of lessons (~3 lessons); publish to your to WebLog a series of essays (~4-5 essays, ~1500 words total) about the distributed cognition, classroom technologies and the learning experiences of students and the instructional practices of classroom teachers. Following Salomon and Perkins (2005), the primary question that this exploration poses is: Does technology make us smarter?

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

  1. Observe a series of lessons (~3 lessons);
  2. Describe in rich detail how technology is integrated into these lessons;
  3. Refer to course readings and discussions about distributed cognition as you  develop your analysis;
  4. Define what you mean by distributed cognition;
  5. Define and discuss these topics as they are evident in your observations:
    • Effects of and Effects with technology;
    • Translation and the representation of ideas;
    • To Offload or not to Offload;
    • Formative Assessment as a Monitoring function;
    • Will this lesson and how technology is integrated make the students smarter? If so why? If not, why not?

The key to the essays you are to write is to use your field observations as examples to demonstrate your understanding of distributed cognition.  Do not assume that your readers understand distributed cognition. Define and fully explain the terms that you choose to discuss in relation to the examples that you observed in the field.  Refer to the readings in your essays as you analyze your observations from the field.

In each essay, synthesize course readings and detailed field observations of student and/or teacher engagement in technologically enhanced learning environments. There are numerous articles relevant to this exploration addressing educational technology and distributed cognition. We will discuss the articles in class. Please reference the articles that you use in your writing.

Consider those technologies that you observe in use in the classroom not limited to such technologies as a digital sensing instrument from a science lab, the use of an eBook in a Language Arts course, online tools for accessing and exploring archival documents in a history course, or the geometers sketchpad in mathematics. But remember, technology is all around the classroom, in every nook and cranny. There is a lot of technology not recognized as such.  For instance, consider a chalkboard. Why not just write things on Post-it Notes? We have an entire reading about the cut & paste function of word processing! With this said, recognize that there are technologies embedded within technologies.

(For the series of 4-5 essays, ~1500 words in all)


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