Distributed learning: Educating and assessing extended cognitive systems

Richard Heersmink*, Simon Knight

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Extended and distributed cognition theories argue that human cognitive systems sometimes include non-biological objects. On these views, the physical supervenience base of cognitive systems is thus not the biological brain or even the embodied organism, but an organism-plus-artifacts. In this paper, we provide a novel account of the implications of these views for learning, education, and assessment. We start by conceptualizing how we learn to assemble extended cognitive systems by internalizing cultural norms and practices. Having a better grip on how extended cognitive systems are assembled, we focus on the question: If our cognition extends, how should we educate and assess such extended cognitive systems? We suggest various ways to minimize possible negative effects of extending one’s cognition and to efficiently find and organize (online) information by adopting a virtue epistemology approach. Educational and assessment implications are foregrounded, particularly in the case of Danish students’ use of the internet during exams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-990
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Distributed Cognition
  • education
  • Extended Knowledge
  • Extended Mind
  • Intellectual Virtues
  • Learning
  • Technology
  • Virtue Epistemology


Dive into the research topics of 'Distributed learning: Educating and assessing extended cognitive systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this