Distributed cognition

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Developed by Edwin Hutchins, distributed cognition is the theory that knowledge lies not only within the individual but in the individual's social and physical environment.

The dependence of the theory on the social and physical environment of the individual makes it very useful in analysing human-computer interactions and educational technologies.

See also: external cognition, distributed intelligence and collective intelligence

1 An executive summary

Distributed cognition refers to a process in which cognitive resources are shared socially in order to extend individual cognitive resources or to accomplish something that an individual agent could not achieve alone. Human cognitive achievements are based on a process in which an agent's cognitive processes and the objects and constraints of the world reciprocally affect each other. Cognitive processes can be distributed between humans and machines (physically distributed cognition, Norman, 1993; Perkins, 1993) or between cognitive agents (socially distributed cognition). Salomon (1993, p. 112) has pointed out that distributed cognition forms systems that consist of an individual agent, his or her peers, teachers, and socio-culturally formed cognitive tools.

(Lehtinen et al.).

2 Links

  • Also on Distributed Cognitions' site: CSILE - some practice in the form of a "Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environment" that supports 'knowledge building'.

3 References

  • Cole, M. and Engeström, Y. (1991). A Cultural-Historical Approach to Distributed Cognition. G. Salomon, (ed.), Distributed Cognition. Cambrigde University Press, pp. 1-47.
  • Hollan, J., Edwin Hutchins, and Kirsch, D. (2000). Distributed Cognition: Toward A New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), Volume 7 , Issue 2, 174 - 196 (There are also draft copies 1999 floating on the Internet).
  • Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hutchins, E., Hollan, J. D., & Norman, D. (1986). Direct manipulation interfaces. In S. Draper & D. Norman (Eds.), User centered system design (pp. 87-124). Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum.
  • Hutchins, E., & Klausen, T. (1996). Distributed cognition in an airline cockpit. In D. Middleton & Y. Engeström(E ds.), Communication and cognition at work (pp. 15-34). Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press. PDF
  • Hutchins, E. & Palen, L. (1997). Constructing meaning from space, gesture and speech. In L. B. Resnick, R. Saljo, C. Pontecorvo, & B. Burge, (Eds.), Discourse, tools, and reasoning: Situated cognition and technologically supported environments (pp. 23-40). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Lehtinen, Erno; Kai Hakkarainen, Lasse Lipponen, Marjaana Rahikainen & Hanni Muukkonen, Computer Supported Collaborative Learning: A Review, CL-Net Project, PDF, retrieved sept. 2008.
  • Norman, D. A. (1993) Things that make us smart. Defending human attributes in the age of the machine. New York: Addison-Wesley.
  • Pea, R. (1993). Practices of Distributed Intelligence and Designs for Education. In G. Salomon (ed.), Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations, (pp. 47-87). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Perkins, D. N. (1993) Person-plus: a distributed view of thinking and learning. In G. Salomon (Ed.) Distributed cognitions. Psychological and educational considerations. (pp. 88-110). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Salomon, G. (1993), Distributed Cognitions, Cambridge University Press.
  • Wright, P., Fields, R., & Harrison, M. (2000). Analyzing human-computer interaction as distributed cognition: The resources model. Human Computer Interaction, 51(1), 1-41.