Extended Cognition in the Classroom: Understanding the use and integration of assistive technology for students with additional needs

Project Overview

People with disabilities have a very close relationship with their assistive technology—whether this is a wheelchair, a long cane, or a smart voice board. These technologies clearly enable users to achieve more than they could without them. What is unclear is how this affects the user’s quality of life as well as the quality of life of those around them. Research into extended cognition suggests that fully integrating technology with a user can yield much more than a mere addition of the technology’s abilities. Rather, full integration can result in the user being not only augmented by the technology but potentially also actually experiencing the world through it. The technology is considered to shape the way that the user perceives and acts in their world in such important respects that it becomes best to consider the user and the technology as an “extended cognitive system”. 

The purpose of the overall project, for which this is a pilot, is to investigate what this process of integration looks like in practice and what can we learn from this that might improve the way we provide and facilitate educational supports for assistive technology users. 


Project Events

The first workshop will be held on the 14th of May 2018. The aim is to gather data from a small group of individuals who work closely with users of assistive technology. The user group that we will focus on for this pilot will be visually impaired children/youths who have been provided with assistive technologies. 

The second workshop will be held on the 18th of June 2018. This half-day workshop will investigate the use and integration of assistive technology for students with additional needs. Registration is free but space is limited. Please contact Laura Candiotto at laura.candiotto@ed.ac.uk to register.


Project team: 


  • Professor Duncan Pritchard (Philosophy; PPLS Project Lead)
  • Professor John Ravenscroft (Education)
  • Dr. Andrea English (Education)
  • Dr. Laura Candiotto (Philosophy)
  • Dr. Emma Gordon (Philosophy)
  • Dr. Lani Watson (Philosophy)
  • Dr. Mog Stapleton (Philosophy)


PPLS Pilot Project Funding/Eidyn