A concept that is deeply studied at present by the philosophers of science and technology is the “extended mind” (Clark and Chalmers, 1998). The thesis of the extended mind (also called “extended cognition”) is that some mental processes occur outside the brain (and outside the body) of the biological subject that triggers them. This view of the mind implies that cognitive processes would be strongly conditioned by the natural, technological and social environment (Hutchins, 1995). According to this perspective, we should talk about “cognitive systems” rather than “cognitive subjects” (Clark, 2008). Therefore, if we consider virtual learning environments as extended classrooms, we must analyze their impact on teachers and students as distributed and strongly interconnected and interdependent cognitive systems.
Nowadays, technology is more than a toolbox of artefacts that are used as partial solutions to particular problems. It constitutes a virtual environment with information, tools and social structures for every task related to the production and communication of knowledge. Therefore, we need to understand the virtual environment where our educational tasks are deployed, and we need to teach about the skills and competences about technology in order to take advantage of that rich educational environment. If both approaches are blended, educational virtual environments extend the range of teaching activities, opening up our classroom and enriching to a broad range the kind of strategies that we can consider as educational strategies. When and how can we use those extended classrooms and educational strategies, is a matter of good researching activities.
In this edition of the Congress, we will embrace this new field of study to fully understand how technologies are being used as an extension of our teaching possibilities. Thus, scholars and practitioners alike are welcome to present how they are using virtual environments to extend the traditional boundaries of educational activities and the cognitive processes we deploy in learning activities.