The Salomon and Perkins article, Do Technologies Make Us Smarter, poses the question of whether the tools we use actually make us smarter or just allow us to do more difficult tasks without really increasing our intellect. This is a difficult question. The article first addresses what it means to be smarter, “truly being smart is something not to be identified even in part with something like having a good flexible repertoire of cognitive strategies but rather with something deep in the fundamental mechanisms of cognition-say highly efficient neural processing.” It is also helpful to think of becoming smarter using a performance view. Can the individual solve problems faster, can they work out highly complex situations, if so, they are probably becoming smarter.
With understanding what it means to be smarter, Salomon and Perkins investigate whether technology aides in becoming smarter. According to Salomon and Perkins using certain technologies can make us smarter through smarter performance. The article states, “cognitive technologies, technologies that enhance cognitive functioning through directly affording cognitive support rather than as a side effect” do make us smarter. It is also important to note that humans function alongside other tools and this distributed cognition does in fact make us smarter.
After reflecting on these sentiments, I agree with Salomon and Perkins point of view. For example, using an excel spreadsheet to solve a complex math equation means that I do not necessarily know how to compute the math equation in my head, however the use of the excel tool, and the distributed cognition, allows me to understand a complex math equation and further my learning and development from seeing a complex problem that I otherwise would not have been able to solve without the use of technology. Another example might be using computer games in the classroom, the use of a game allows the student to problem solve and look at situations differently and then apply those lessons after the game. In conclusion, technologies do make us smarter as they allow for distributed cognition and the use of these tools can add to solving complex situations.