Call: “Re-Examining Cognitive Tools” issue of Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET)

Call for Papers

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) Special Issue:
Re-Examining Cognitive Tools: New Developments, New Perspectives, and New Opportunities for Educational Technology Research

Submission deadline: 1 August 2018


Christopher Drew, Senior Lecturer in Education, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law, Teesside University, UK

Mark J. W. Lee, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia and Visiting Faculty, Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University, USA


Submissions are invited for a forthcoming special issue of AJET to be published in early 2019, entitled Re-examining cognitive tools: New developments, new perspectives, and new opportunities for educational technology research.

The idea of digital technologies as cognitive or ‘mind tools’ was advocated in the 1990s by a number of educational scholars (e.g., Jonassen, 1991, 1994, 1996; Jonassen & Reeves, 1996; Lajoie & Derry, 1993) who argued that computing devices and software could be usefully viewed in terms of their affordances for facilitating cognitive activities in support of learning. Central to the concept is an emphasis on students’ learning with, rather than from or through, the technology as they undertake higher order thinking tasks. This underscores the role technologies can play in enabling student-directed experiences that give rise to deep learning and engagement.

Today, the concept of cognitive tools continues to offer a relevant and important lens through which to understand how learners engage in cognitive activities by leveraging the capabilities and affordances of contemporary technologies (Herrington & Parker, 2013; Hwang, Shi, & Chu, 2011; Lee, Pradhan, & Dalgarno, 2008; Liu, Horton, Toprac, & Yuen, 2011; Wang, Hsu, Reeves, & Coster, 2014; Zap & Code, 2016). However, following Iiyoshi, Hannafin, and Wang (2005, p. 291), it remains the case that “cognitive tool technology offers substantial potential to improve learning, but requires significant study to determine the factors that influence their successful application” (see also Kim, 2012; Kim & Reeves, 2007). Furthermore, over the course of the intervening decades since the concept was first popularised, the educational technology landscape has transformed drastically from one in which desktop computer-assisted learning (CAL) packages and static hypermedia environments were considered state of the art, into one where Internet-connected mobile, wearable, and embedded computing devices proliferate; where students and teachers routinely use online social media for personal as well as educational purposes; and where immersive virtual reality looks to finally be entering the mainstream. With all of the above in mind, this special issue seeks to stimulate further conversation on cognitive tools for learning in post-secondary education, revisiting the concept in light of recent developments and advances not only technologically, but also with respect to learning theory, pedagogy, instructional design, cognitive science, and psychology.


The guest editors seek article submissions from a wide cross-section of scholars who have creatively and rigorously employed the concept of cognitive tools for their research into technology-enhanced learning in higher education, vocational education, and professional/workplace learning contexts. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Design-based research studies that report on innovative applications of new and emerging technologies (e.g., mobiles and wearables, virtual reality, augmented reality, robots, drones, Internet of Things devices) as cognitive tools for learning;
  • Meta-analyses or meta-syntheses of prior empirical research, leading to new insights and understandings about technology-based cognitive tools for learning and/or evidence-based principles to guide the creation of such tools;
  • New or alternative theoretical perspectives on cognitive tools for learning, along with implications for practice and future research;
  • Development, validation, and application of novel frameworks for assessing the efficacy of specific approaches or tools in supporting student cognition;
  • Examination of the relationship between cognition, social learning, and affect in technology-mediated learning environments to extend the concept of cognitive tools;
  • Cognitive tools in the form of integrated scaffolds for inquiry-based or discovery learning within 3D virtual world and game environments;
  • Cognitive tools for assisting shared cognition among large numbers of distributed individuals and for supporting collaborative learning on a massive scale (e.g., in MOOCs);
  • Applicability of the cognitive tools concept to next-generation user interfaces that take learner-computer interactions beyond the screen (e.g., multi-touch tabletops and walls, motion-sensing controllers, haptics/force-feedback hardware, natural-language speech recognition and speech synthesis systems, brain-computer interfaces);
  • Adaptive and intelligent cognitive tools capable of dynamically adjusting/responding to different learner needs and situations (e.g., through machine learning);
  • Cognitive tools for learning that are based on or otherwise make use of big data and advanced analytics.

Please note that since AJET’s focus and scope are strictly limited to post-secondary education, submissions pertaining to K–12 or early childhood education will not be considered for the special issue.


Manuscripts addressing the special issue’s focus should be submitted through AJET’s online manuscript submission system. Please review the Author Guidelines and Submission Preparation Checklist carefully, and prepare your manuscript accordingly. Information about the peer review process and criteria is also available for your perusal.

NOTE: When submitting your manuscript, please include a note in the ‘Comments for the Editor’ field indicating that you wish it to be considered for the “Cognitive Tools” special issue. Please direct questions about manuscript submissions to the guest editors at

Prospective authors are strongly encouraged to get in touch with the guest editors well ahead of the submission deadline, advising them of the provisional title of the manuscript they intend to submit and supplying a brief proposal or abstract outlining the manuscript’s nature, content, and aims.


Before 1 June 2018: Brief proposals/abstracts to be emailed to guest editors (optional, but strongly encouraged)
1 August 2018: Deadline for submission of full manuscripts via AJET’s submission system
1 November 2018: Decisions and feedback on manuscripts sent to authors
1 February 2019: Revised manuscripts due
April 2019: Anticipated publication of special issue in AJET 35(2)


Herrington, J., & Parker, J. (2013). Emerging technologies as cognitive tools for authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 607–615.

Hwang, G.-J., Shi, Y.-R., & Chu, H.-C. (2011). A concept map approach to developing collaborative mindtools for context-aware ubiquitous learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 778–789.

Iiyoshi, T., Hannafin, M. J., & Wang, F. (2005). Cognitive tools and student-centred learning: Rethinking tools, functions and applications. Educational Media International, 42(4), 281–296.

Jonassen, D. H. (1991). What are cognitive tools? In P. A. M. Kommers, D. H. Jonassen, & J. T. Mayes (Eds.), Cognitive tools for learning (pp. 1–6). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Jonassen, D. H. (1994). Technology as cognitive tools: Learners as designers. Paper presented to ITForum. Retrieved from

Jonassen, D. H. (1996). Computers in the classroom: Mindtools for critical thinking. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Jonassen, D. H., & Reeves, T. C. (1996). Learning with technology: Using computers as cognitive tools. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 693–719). New York, NY: Macmillan.

Kim, M. C. (2012). Revisiting cognitive tools: Shifting the focus to tools-in-use. Educational Technology, 52(4), 14–24.

Kim, B., & Reeves, T. C. (2007). Reframing research on learning with technology: In search of the meaning of cognitive tools. Instructional Science, 35(3), 207–256. 006-9005-2

Lajoie, S. P., & Derry, S. J. (Eds.). (1993). Computers as cognitive tools. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Lee, M. J. W., Pradhan, S., & Dalgarno, B. (2008). Using screencasting to scaffold exercises and promote cognitive engagement for novice object-oriented programmers. Journal of Information Technology Education, 7, 61–80.

Liu, M., Horton, L., Toprac, P. & Yuen, T. T. (2011). Examining the design of media rich cognitive tools as scaffolds in a multimedia problem-based learning environment. In M. Orey, S. A. Jones, & R. M. Branch (Eds.), Educational media and technology yearbook (vol. 36, pp. 113–125). New York, NY: Springer.

Wang, S.-K., Hsu, H.-Y., Reeves, T. C., & Coster, D. C. (2014). Professional development to enhance teachers’ practices in using information and communication technologies (ICTs) as cognitive tools: Lessons learned from a design-based research study. Computers & Education, 79(1), 101–115.

Zap, N., & Code, J. (2016). Virtual and augmented reality as cognitive tools for learning. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Proceedings of EdMedia 2016: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (pp. 1340–1347). Waynesville, NC: AACE. Retrieved from


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