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1. Describe how a Course Management System (e.g. WebCT, Canvas, or Sakai) might be designed
from 3 different perspectives on distributed cognition. For example, how would a smart seeing and
projecting learning system differ from a "close-coupling human and responsive artifact or a
socially-distributed cognition based system?
A person can extend their mind in approaching the environment using a very diverse range of
perspectives (Clark, 2008, p. 416). The external representation is a part of our overall thinking process
and it can support the users limitation on the memory and mental models. A smart seeing and
projecting learning system can allow users to look at the external representations in exertive manner
and projecting onto it in order to generate a powerful thinking. The smart seeing learning, when
supported by our unconscious perceptual methods, can cause visual literacy. However, there are
limits to smart seeing and projection when displaying projections of 2D, 3D, and 4D scenes according
to Walter Freeman. The smart seeing and projecting learning system relates between the internal
and external processes, therefore requiring coordination of time between the internal data. (Kirsh,
Hutchins & Hollan, 2000, p. 177). The calendar page on the SFU Canvas website has adapted the design
derived from the smart seeing and projecting perspective on distributed cognition as the users can
see the due dates of the assignments and also add and edit events to the calendar, as external
representation, in order to remind the dates later for themselves when their brain alone cannot
A close-coupling human and responsive artifact tends to migrate toward lower costing
structures and processes. The interfaces designed for direct-manipulation are meant to let the users
feel as if they are touching the real objects although it is on-screen and giving the feeling of immediacy
which means that they are closely coupled together. The online-quizzes on the Canvas website use the

design derived from the close-coupling human and responsive artifact perspective as they generate
real time response from the system.
A socially-distributed cognition based system is the distribution of cognitive processes
distributed across the members of a social group, and coordinating multiple users in time. There is
one ideathat social organization is itself a form of cognitive architecture ( Kirsh, Hutchins & Hollan,
2000, p. 176-177). The canvas sites discussion board performs as the place for multiple groups and
individuals to speak, therefore incorporating the design from the socially-distributed cognition
perspective on design cognition. (357 words)


2. Which one would you choose? Why? Compare and contrast these alternatives and clearly explain
which one you would use for a CMS based on your knowledge of human cognition and design.
(Include word count at the end.)
For a Course Management System, I would choose "socially-distributed cognition based
system. A cognitive process is delimited by the functional relationships among the elements that
participate in it, rather than by the spatial colocation of the elements (Kirsh, Hutchins & Hollan, 2000,
p. 176). The distribution of cognitive process involves the kind where cognitive process is distributed
across the members of a social group, coordinated between internal and external structure, and
distributed through time that pre-generated events transform the later events. Therefore, in order to
determine the effectiveness of the human-computer interactions necessary in a Course Management
System, it is necessary to discuss the cognitive process distributions.
Cognitive processes involve transmission and transformation of information. The social
organization is a huge determinant in the flow of information in a group that is necessary for the
Course Management because the professors and many students must have access to the system at any
time. Although, perspective of interaction on internal and external resources is important, well-
designed work materials are not as important when compared to the socially-distributed cognition in
the Course Management System because the interactions on the external resources/representations
are supplementary. And also, the projections have limitations in displaying scenes as 2D, 3D, an 4D.
Also, the distributed cognition encourages exploration of the tight coupling of interface
components and cognition (Kirsh, Hutchins & Hollan, 2000, p. 190). This kind of interface assist in the
evaluation with ethnographic analysis, and other navigation activities the users make in information

display screens, which can help with getting feedback from the Course Management System, but
sometimes it is not necessary for the system to migrate towards the lowest costing computational and
physical process. Although this interactive nature of the system may entertain users, it is not necessary
in the Course Management system as much as socially distributed cognition based system.
The socially distributed cognition based system deals with skilled multi-person
coordination in time. When working on team projects in SIAT, it is really useful to have this function in
a Course Management System. Also, it can promote communities of interest, and broader society. Also,
it is essential for the professors, teaching assistants and students in classes can communicate well with
each other. If there is no function to allow distribute data such as course materials across many
students, it would almost be impossible for them to understand and keep up with the course materials.
(398 words)


Kirsh D., Hutchins, E. and Hollan, J. (2000). Distributed Cognition: Toward a New Foundation for
Human-Computer Interaction Research. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 7(2), 174-196.
Clark, A. (2008). Supersizing the mind: Embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. IAT 201 lecture,
retrieved from Simon Fraser Unversity on-line lecture site.