Design principles for online cognitive environments

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 Assignment: There is a thriving field of research investigating how to replicate human-like cognition through artificial intelligence, however less attention has been paid to how AI and digital devices are also changing human cognition. Are there also ways in which digital devices give rise to different modes of thinking for their users? Specifically, we are looking for qualitatively different ways of thinking, ways in which humans did not think before the invention of digital devices. Following from this question, what features of the digital devices can give rise to these new modes of human cognition? If we could describe the specific design features and the desired interactions which lead to new ways of thinking with digital devices, we could then use these principles to design new digital technologies which have the potential to purposefully make their users think smarter or more creatively. The question of digital thinking will be tackled here starting from a specific approach to thinking: situated cognition or 4E cognition (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive). Recent developments in cognitive sciences and philosophy of mind have led to a re-conceptualizing of what it means to think: thinking is no longer seen as an internal monologue, something occurring individually to the cognitive agent, but rather thinking emerges as a relational property between an agent and her environment: we think with tools which extend our mind, we think depending on the environment in which we are immersed, and we think with our entire bodies – not just our brains. This approach has also commonalities other cognition paradigms: ecological cognition, situated cognition, socio-material approaches – which may be worthy of being investigated in the same literature review. As the ideas of 4E are gaining recognition, a revolution has swept the research on cognition in the last decades, yet the ripple effects in philosophy of technology and in philosophy of design have not yet been felt. We do not yet know how to valorise these findings in ways which could enhance significantly the human users’ ways of thinking because 4E researchers are not yet focused on operationalising the design principles which could actually put to work these cognitive principles. Assuming situated cognition paradigm as a starting point, then the theme of digital thinking can be approached by focusing on the following sub-theme: Design principles for online cognitive environments How does critical thinking appear when a user is interacting with others via online environments? This literature review will look for design principles and desired user interactions for fostering a more critical engagement with others and with online information. The studies in this literature review are mostly found in the educational field – for example online learning environments – and in information studies (see critical literacy and digital literacy studies). The purpose of this literature review is to summarize these findings and distil certain design principles which would work beyond an explicit educational purpose. A minimum of 10-15 articles should be used. Core articles: • Heersmink, R., & Sutton, J. (2018). Cognition and the Web: Extended, Transactive, or Scaffolded? Erkenntnis, 1(1), 1. • Smart, Paul R. “The Web‐Extended Mind.” Metaphilosophy 43, no. 4 (2012): 446-463.

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