NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED497015
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Sep
Pages: 22
Abstractor: Author
Toolforthoughts: Reexamining Thinking in the Digital Age. Working Paper No. 2005-6
Shaffer, David Williamson; Clinton, Katherine A.
Wisconsin Center for Education Research (NJ1)
In this paper, we argue that new computational tools problematize the concept of thought within current sociocultural theories of technology and cognition, by challenging the traditional position of privilege that humans occupy in sociocultural analyses. We draw on work by Shaffer, Kaput, and Latour to extend the analytical reach of activity theory, mediated action, and distributed cognition by adopting a stronger form of the concepts of distribution and mediation in the context of cognitive activity. For rhetorical purposes, we posit this stronger form of the distribution of intelligence across persons and objects as a theory of distributed mind. Previous theories of cognition and technology show that persons and artifacts both contribute to meaningful activity. Here, we explore how understanding the pedagogical implications of new media may require creating a new analytic category of toolforthoughts. The result of such a shift in thinking provides a view of the relationship between technology and cognitive activity appropriate to the emerging virtual culture of the digital age. We suggest that this may provide a useful perspective from which to analyze pedagogical choices in the context of rapid expansion of powerful cognitive technologies. Theorizing the cognitive agency of tools provides a means to evaluate (in the fullest sense of the word) the educational consequences of new technologies.
Wisconsin Center for Education Research. School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1025 West Johnson Street Suite 785, Madison, WI 53706. Tel: 608-263-4200; Fax: 608-263-6448; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.; National Academy of Education, Washington, DC.; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Madison.; National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.; Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison.
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison.
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A