Writing this article was a bit serendipitous really, I worked on the extended mind thesis and its implications in education in my Philosophy of Education MA at (what is now) the UCL Institute of Education ([dissertation here]1). When I moved to Sydney I came across an article by Richard (my co-author on this piece), “[The Internet, Cognitive Enhancement, and the Values of Cognition]2“, and saw he was down the road at Macquarie so dropped him a note.  A few drinks and a year latter, and we’ve got a paper, in which we discuss some of the ways in which an ‘extended mind’ perspective on cognition might have implications for how we think about education and assessment. **The paper can be downloaded open access ** The published version is:

Heersmink, R., & Knight, S. (2018). Distributed learning: Educating and assessing extended cognitive systems. Philosophical Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2018.1469122

Abstract: 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. Photo by Thad Zajdowicz


  1. http://sjgknight.com/finding-knowledge/ma/

  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11023-016-9404-3