Bruner (1972) once observed that "What a culture does to assist the development of the powers of mind of its members is, in effect, to provide amplification systems to which human beings, equipped with appropriate skills, can link themselves" (p. 53). Bruner's (1972) thesis was to develop an account of how a society should proceed in presenting the developing child with skills or beliefs or knowledge in "a form capable of being mastered by a beginner" (p. 53). This question, although posed more than 30 years ago, is highly relevant to much contemporary Information and Communication Technology (lCT) research. Further, Bruner's analysis is predicated on an important fact about the ways that humans operate in the world: They are highly resourceful at exploiting their environment to extend their cognitive capabilities, and they do this with a variety of strategies, tools, and representations. This, broadly speaking, is what we refer to as "external cognition." Understanding why and how this works in the case of rapidly evolving technologies such as ICT requires, we argue, a framework (or frameworks) that allow people to see technologies in as wide a context as possible and consequently, to better understand how and why we might make use of them in a
range of particular contexts: education, work, play, or leisure. In this respect, one needs to look at individual technologies both (a) as tokens of a wider type such as "tools" and (b) in terms of their specific properties or capabilities that might allow genuinely novel opportunities for learning. A result of this should be to derive some lessons for a more fruitful relation between research, design, and implementation in educational settings.