Distributed Cognition Blog Post 1

This comic strip demonstrates the integration of technology through the student app Lexia Learning. Lexia is used in my classroom at various times during the day, such as whole class work time, small groups, centers, and homework. Students work independently on their literacy instruction to practice targeted phonics and literacy skills. Lexia Learning provides structured literacy solutions and professional learning to 5.5 million K-12 students and their 350K educators at over 20K schools nationwide. Lexia’s digital-centric solutions can be used together or individually to meet structured literacy learning needs for any student as well as teachers who support them. Lexia’s comprehensive suite of curriculum, assessment, and professional learning solutions is designed to meet the needs of all literacy students. Lexia’s approach is focused on sound methodology, engaging experiences, and continued acknowledgement of the value of each individual learner. Lexia’s curriculum is rigorous, personalized, structured and systematic. The solutions are centered around a personalized approach to learning, and are designed to give students more control over the time, place, path, and pace of their progress. Lexia believes technology is a key component of personalized learning, but that it does not stand alone. The effects with technology of using Lexia Learning creates a partnership that separates the students from the distractions of lower-level cognitive functions and allows for the individual to focus on high level thinking that leads to an improvement of intellectual performance (Salomon, pg.77). With Lexia, teachers are able to prioritize and differentiate instruction, allowing students to develop critical reading skills at their own pace. Lexia solutions are different from edtech games and test prep programs. They’re founded upon a structured and systematic approach to literacy instruction that builds upon prior learning in a sequential manner, ultimately improving each teacher’s ability to deliver critical literacy concepts, strengthening the relationship with, and transitioning ownership of learning, to the student. Distributed cognition is defined as the following, “a way to understand how people interact with their environment and how they can be enabled by the environment to undertake highly complex tasks that would usually be beyond the abilities of the unassisted individual” (Morgan, pg.127). This means that distributed cognition is when learners are guided into cognitive activities that are appropriate, meaningful and effective, and purposeful.

There are several technology affordances when it comes to Lexia implementation in the classroom that are worth noting as the affordances and constraints greatly impact student learning and ability to use Lexia and facilitate learning (Morgan, pg.127). Using Lexia, the teacher can assign goals and target skills, but the app has a set program and progression of activities and literacy components that create a strong, enriching learning environment that becomes more challenging as the student advances through skills and concepts. The teacher has the ability to check student progress in class such as units completed as well as how much time the student spent actively working on Lexia through the teacher’s “minutes check ” ability. For students to be able to use and learn from Lexia, there are a few technical skills students need to learn to be successful on their own. The first skill is general how-to knowledge of using their iPad as their technological device. The following skills are about the login process, such as signing in through their Clever account, which is associated with a QR code that they must scan and then choose the Lexi app on the Clever site. Students need to learn other skills such as how to save their work, end the learning session, how to exit a particular activity, and how to refresh the screen. These are all elements that students need to be shown, so that they can work independently on the app. For these skills and other general directions and guidelines for the app, my teacher implemented a workshop the first week of school to walk students through using the app. The teacher modeled how to sign in, how to navigate through the process and app, and other necessary components.

Lexia facilitates high level processing as well as moderate level processing as students both create and compose, as well as manipulate and restructure (Morgan, pg.134). Students are encouraged to paraphrase and reorganize, as well as write, label, summarize, and relate. Lexia creates an enriched learning environment and facilitates learning through complex activities that demonstrate the ability of technology to foster meaningful and purposeful learning to students. When it comes to integration of Lexia, there is a slight opportunity for student offloading. A student could sit at their desk and click random answers, the app would then prompt support, such as reading the question or passage, eliminating an option, or another planned support. If a student did this, it would not add any units or allow them to level up, but they would be supported and assisted through the app as the app would process and provide information and answers for the students (Martin, pg.94). I believe this is more of a behavioral issue than a system offloading because it is not what the app was designed for, as the true purpose is not offloading but supportive, enriching literacy learning as students develop key literacy skills through practice. 

Monitoring includes identifying places of mismatch as well as ensuring complete coverage in information presented or knowledge demonstrated (Martin, pg.95). Through Lexia, teachers have the ability to monitor student progress. Teachers can see how much time students spent on an activity, can see how many units, or activities, they completed, and can see what levels and concepts they have mastered. Lexia allows for formative assessment as the teacher can assess which skills, sight words and other phonic concepts such as bends, digraphs, and diphthongs have been mastered. The teacher can use this as a progress report through daily checks assessments as well as determining when to assign unit tests to the whole class or to specific individuals. This is a key aspect that is helpful when there are big achievement gaps between students in one classroom. The incorporation of this technology programming leads to making students smarter. This is demonstrated during their rising benchmark scores over the first few months of school. In general instruction, it is clear that the skills and activities being learned on Lexia are allowing students to gain a better understanding of literary elements while being engaged and having fun. While Lexia alone should not be relied upon for all literacy instruction, it is an amazing resource that allows students to learn in new ways.

Martin, L. (2012). Connection, Translation, Off-Loading, and Monitoring: A Framework for Characterizing the Pedagogical Functions of Educational Technologies. Technology, Knowledge & Learning, 17(3), 87-107.

Morgan, M., Brickell, G., Harper, B. (2008). Applying distributed cognition theory to the redesign of the ‘Copy and Paste’ function in order to promote appropriate learning outcomes.  Computers & Education, 50(1), 125-147.

Salomon, G. & Perkins, D. (2005)”Do Technologies Make Us Smarter? Intellectual Amplification With, Of and Through Technology.”In: Robert Sternberg and David Preiss (Eds.).Intelligence and Technology: The Impact of Tools on the Nature and Development of Human Abilities. Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Publishers. pp. 71-86.


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