Week 13: Distributed Cognitions

This week I read Distributed Cognitions by Roy Pea and John Seely Brown. They argue that intelligence is distributed across minds, persons, and the symbolic and physical environments. It is socially constructed through collaborative efforts and also found in artifacts such as physical tools, representations (diagrams), and computer-user interfaces. This goes against the traditional viewpoint that intelligence resides in the mind of the individual. As a result, the assumption that an individual’s intelligence can be measured through testing is false and needs to be revised. Instead, we should consider the role of tools and resources as they help the learner, and we should facilitate learners’ interaction with such tools and resources as well as with other individuals. In addition, we need to encourage learners to be creative in their use of tools and resources.

After reading this article, I noticed a lot of similarities between distributed intelligence and connectivism. In both cases intelligence is not viewed as being in the mind of any one person, and instead it is off-loaded onto a network of people, tools, and resources. Since Distributed Cognitions was published in 1993 well before the idea of connectivism came about, I would argue that the idea of connectivism is based on the idea of distributed intelligence. I am not familiar enough with the theory of distributed intelligence to comment on any differences between that and connectivism.

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