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Tools and machines need not be material; virtual technology, such as computer software and business methods, fall under this definition of technology. Brian Arthur defines technology in a similarly broad way as "a means to fulfill a human purpose".


The word "technology" can also be used to refer to a collection of techniques. In this context, it is the current state of humanity's knowledge of how to combine resources to produce desired products, to solve problems, fulfill needs, or satisfy wants; it includes technical methods, skills, processes, techniques, tools and raw materials. When combined with another term, such as "medical technology" or "space technology", it refers to the state of the respective field's knowledge and tools. Technology can be viewed as an activity that forms or changes culture.

Additionally, technology is the application of math, science, and the arts for the benefit of life as it is known. A modern example is the rise of communication technology, which has lessened barriers to human interaction and, as a result, has helped spawn new subcultures; the rise of cyberculture has, at its basis, the development of the Internet and the computer. Not all technology enhances culture in a creative way; technology can also help facilitate political oppression and war via tools such as guns.

As a cultural activity, technology predates both science and engineering, each of which formalize some aspects of technological endeavor. With online communities, social interactions and learning occurs with students-to-students or even with students-to-professionals. The benefits of social interactions seem endless with the advancements of communications online. Communications through the use of technology create student centered, social learning environment. This shift can occur with social networking.

Children are continually communicating with peers online, especially through social networking sites. Children have a high interest in these types of sites already, so to motivate students to learn, one could create a safe learning environment using a social networking site. Children are already using these sites to seek out help with school assignments, so to create a group for them to exchange knowledge would increase their interest and responsibility in the subject.

Facebook is only one site for social networking.

With the continual advancement of the Internet, more helpful and safer sites are appearing. Social networking is just one benefit of technology; another is video games. Technologies have created many educational social games. Games could be created, tested and discussed in a group setting or even online. Video games are continually available online, where people are able to discuss and solve adventures together. In these games, students socialize with other students and collaborate to solve educational games.

Of the reports we reviewed in , and the dozens reviewed since, only a handful utilize theoretical frameworks sophisticated enough to account for cognition and technology. A vast majority of the reports utilizing any discernable framework at all rely on one variant of constructivism or another, based on the premise that learners are active in the construction of knowledge. One critique of constructivists is that they cannot adequately account for social interaction e. More importantly for our purposes here, constructivists undertheorise technology as mere tools for learning—as instrumental to cognition rather than integral Shaffer and Clinton under review.

Cognitive science and neurocognition similarly reinforce a focus on individual processes e. In the s and s, biological and technological models of mind converged, yielding an integration of biology, ecology and cybernetics in what became cognitive science. In effect, cognition is now inseparable from technology Feng Similarly, from the s through the s, historians and sociologists of technology shifted approaches to sociotechnology, contextualism and social constructionism to explain human-technology interaction.

In the s, theorists of technology again shifted to actor- network theory, cultural studies, cyborgs, hybridity and postsocial relations with objects and the world Petrina ; Wajcman Indeed, a theory of distributed cognition is inseparable from a theory of cyborgs, hybridity and postsocial relations Knorr Cetina ; Latour a, b.

Although Lave and Wenger recast cognition as collective activity, they continued to under-theorise technology in this process.

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The proper subject for cognition shifted from individual minds constructivism to collective activity situated cognition to activity systems. Activity or learning is always situated within an activity system.

Education and the social brain: linking language, thinking, teaching and learning

Activity theory opens the door for theorising shifts from mediated to cyborgenic learning. Although partially derived from theories of technology i. Here, technologies are merely components or processes nested within, or incidental to other systems, generally for augmenting and embodying cognition Brennan et al. Nonetheless, the cognitive agency of technologies within complex systems or information ecologies is crucial Clark, , ; Gardenfors and Johansson ; Gorayska and Mey ; Norman ; Perkins ; Perkins et al.

In distributed cognition, the unit of analysis shifts once again, to the system of personin-interaction- with-technology.

It includes the socio-material environment of the person, and the boundaries of the system may shift during the course of activity. Like Clark , , Haraway , Ingold and Latour a, b, , Hutchins dispenses with theories of cognition and learning that separate people from the technologies they use. Clearly a good deal of expertise in the system is in the artifacts both the external implements and the internal strategies ——not in the sense that artifacts are themselves intelligent or expert agents, or because the act of getting into coordination with the artifacts constitutes an expert performance by the person; rather, the system of person-in-interaction-with-technology exhibits expertise.

Distributed cognition offers a powerful methodological and theoretical framework for researching cognition and technology, into three questions Hollan et al. How are the cognitive processes and properties we normally associate with an individual mind distributed and implemented in a group of individuals? How are these cognitive processes and properties distributed internally attention, memory, executive function and externally artifacts, materials at hand, technologies 3.

Learning continually occurs through social interactions and influences from the community, media and the Internet.

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People determine how these influences will affect them based on their inner thoughts. Through social interactions learning will occur and meaning will be constructed. There are numerous opportunities for people to enhance their learning through social interactions online. Social learning is ever increasing with the continual advancements of technology and online communications. As educators, it is up to us to vary our teaching strategies with the understanding that individual students process information in unique ways.

Students can process limited amounts of information at any given point in a class, but that information is far more likely to be retained in long-term memory if the information begin presented is paired with a unique experience or relies upon multiple sensory inputs during presentation Orey, Pitler, et al. For instance, students using word-processing software such as Microsoft Word to track changes made on a particular written passage to be better able to summarize the material.

This type of technological use, particularly if it is done in large-group and then small-group or individual settings, can help students better understand the more meaningful portions of a text and develop the skill to edit down material for easier recall in the future. Also, many word-processing tools have a setting which can automatically summarize a section of text and provide a visual labeling of the most important points. This is another tool that can help students to better identify the important points of a text and highlight the need for revision of their own writing if necessary.

Beyond word processing software, Pitler describes how concept maps, when used in conjunction with organizing material and note-taking, can drastically improve student understanding of material. Concept maps are a physical representation of the cognitive processes occurring within the students mind for processing, cataloguing, and understanding material.

Through the use of programs such as Inspiration, educators can develop concept maps through introductory lessons, discussion of prior knowledge, or as summative assignments that allow students to visually see connections between questions, concepts, ideas, or words that can be constructed as knowledge within the student. Although word processing software and concept map development can fulfill strategies outlined by cognitive learning theorists, one of the most powerful instructional strategies to assist in student learning in the virtual field trip.

Particularly in the current economic climate, schools do not have the opportunity to provide students the opportunity to go outside the school walls and explore the world through field trips. Virtual field trips, however, allow the student to gain a better understanding about a place that the class may be unable to visit while allowing the student to practice with technological innovations that promote dynamic academic growth.

Overall, the technological instructional strategies outlined by Pitler et al. The incorporations of various technologies are used to highlight the diverse cognitive needs of individual students and promote knowledge that is easily accessible and promoted to long-term memory to be continually referenced as new knowledge is paired with already learned material.

Educators should stay continually abreast of current and new technological innovations as they can assist in greater acquisition of knowledge by the student and create more unique and creative learning experiences. Cognitive theory and educational technology Educational technology has for some time been influenced by developments in cognitive psychology. Collectively, scholars in our field have described cognitive equivalents for all stages in instructional design procedures.

Mind, Matter, and Life: Fritjof Capra

Here are some examples. Twenty years ago, Resnick described "cognitive task analysis" for mathematics. Greeno's , analysis of mathematical tasks illustrates the knowledge representation approach and corresponds in large part to instructional designers' use of information mapping, Resnick's analysis of the way children perform subtraction exemplifies the information-processing approach.

Knowledge in minds : individual and collective processes in cognition