DC3: Distributed Cognition

Distributed cognition is a theoretical framework that explains how we cannot possibly do everything ourselves, it is shared, or distributed among the tools and people with which we learn. The distribution of cognitions includes dividing cognitive tasks among multiple systems which can include tools and individuals. One framework that “focuses on four pedagogical functions that technology can perform in learning environments is CTOM, Connection, Translation, Off-loading, and Monitoring” (Martin 2012). Coordination of learning between two cognitive systems is enables learning at a more meaningful level and should “extend beyond the moment to serve the child well in future contexts (Martin 2012). Connection is when students use another cognitive system to communicate to pass information. Translation involves information being translated into meaning that can be understood and in another representational system. Off-loading aids in efficiency and coordination among cognitive resources by distributing the tedious tasks to another cognitive system. Monitoring is obtaining information through observations of students or assessment techniques with feedback to recognize changes needed for future learning.

Students in Hambden Elementary school utilize cognitive systems such as classmates, the teachers, their technology teacher, music teacher, and of course computers. Individually they can access games, information, and classwork on their Chromebooks which is a connection within the learning atmosphere. The communication channels include working on Google slides, emailing the teacher, or submitting assignments on Google Classroom. Students are connected through their Chromebooks by being able to work on the slideshow simultaneously while the teacher has access to monitor their progress and offer feedback. The students created a classroom slideshow presentation about their favorite character for their school’s one school, one book program. Each student created a slide that was integrated into the class’ presentation show. It fascinated me that the teacher could lock the slides so each student only had access to their one slide. Collaboration, yet independence, but off-loading nevertheless. The students would add a picture and a few sentence about why the character was their favorite and deserved a blue ribbon, like in the dog shows. I think the book was about a dog.

Smart Boards in the classroom can be used as translators of information such as videos and digital manipulatives. The teacher used an educational game, which when projected on the big screen acted like a big scene in the country so the kids could feel like they were there, present in the scene.

The teacher often used her computer for progress monitoring for online lessons. The reading and spelling and math were all online; no textbooks anymore. The reading lessons included stories, assessments, automatic feedback and can easily be differentiated for even more monitoring by the teacher. The students are learning by way of effects with technologies in fourth grade. The teachers are learning to use tools of education for these tasks so they are also gaining the effects with technology learning.

The elementary school has a technology time for each class which presents the students with design challenges. The teacher has received STEM kits with design challenges where students have to research how to solve problems involving technology. There is a 3D printer available for use for projects for anyone in the school but doesn’t seem to be used often enough. It allows for the students to research and design items to print in 3D. They would be connecting with others and the teachers would monitor to provide feedback for the final project before printing.

My favorite statement in this article from Martin is “we ask children to collaborate with mentors or peers so that they take on, internalize, or appropriate the practices and meanings that are common to the other members of the group” (Martin 2012). I absolutely agree with that and I could use that specific explanation to encourage my 7th graders to learn from each other and be self-reflective. I wonder…


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