Extended cognition, assistive technology and education

Duncan Pritchard, Andrea R. English, John Ravenscroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Assistive technology (AT) is widely used in contemporary special needs education. Our interest is in the extent to which we can conceive of certain uses of AT in this educational context as a form of extended cognition. It is argued that what is critical to answering this question is that the relationship between the student and the AT is more than just that of subject-and-instrument, but instead incorporates a fluidity and spontaneity that puts it on a functional par with their use of the student’s biological cognitive traits. It is claimed that AT use in special needs education offers an especially plausible case of extended cognition for just this reason. It is further maintained that understanding AT in this fashion has some important philosophical and practical ramifications, including how we should conceive of mainstream education, given that this is increasingly conducted within highly technologically-embedded environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8355-8377
Number of pages23
Issue number3-4
Early online date6 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Assistive technology
  • Cognitive augmentation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Disability
  • Education
  • Epistemology
  • Epistemologyof education
  • Extended cognition


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