Inspired by Dr. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, educators worldwide are beginning to rethink the traditional textbook and paper-and-pencil approach to teaching. As technology becomes more affordable, accessible, and user-friendly, educators are also discovering how multimedia applications can be used as a powerful instructional tool. From a constructivist learning approach, the integration of multiple intelligences and multimedia is an excellent way to actively involve a student in quality learning. The purpose of this paper is to explore the principles and usefulness of multimedia and Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences in a high school biology classroom. Suggestions have been included on how to integrate and apply the latest multimedia technology with traditional biology lessons, along with some links to free related resources found on the World Wide Web. In addition, the concepts and benefits of using Virtual Treasure Hunts, WebQuests, Virtual Field Trips to shape learning behaviors will also be discussed.
|1. What is Multimedia?|
|2. What is the Multiple Intelligence Theory of Learning?|
|3. How does the integration of biology, multimedia, and multiple intelligence enhance student learning?|
|4. Virtual Field Trips to Online Museums|
What is Multimedia?
The human brain is an extraordinary piece of biological machinery. It is capable of coordinating the senses to acquire, process, and link vast amounts of information to help people learn, communicate, and survive. One can make a strong analogy between the function of the human brain and a computer 'brain'. All computers purchased today are Multimedia PC's. This means that the software installed in the system is capable of combining text, graphics, audio, and video with links and tools that help a user navigate, interact, create, and communicate, learn and survive, both academically and socially (Hofstetter, 1997).
Computers are found just about everywhere in industrialized nations--at
home, school, work, vacation spots, cars, planes, and some computers are
even attached to human beings! Therefore, one could argue that computer
literacy is quickly becoming an essential basic skill to be ranked among
the three R's--reading, writing, and arithmetic. Since the human
brain and multimedia applications work in such similar ways, it makes sense
to incorporate biology with technology to stimulate better learning among
high school science students. Computer Technology Research (CTR)
supports the effectiveness of multimedia as a powerful tool in ensuring
student's ability to remember and retain information (Hofstetter,
1997). Recent findings in brain research suggest that this
is especially true when the student is engaged in activities that draw
upon his/her multiple intelligence strengths. To be truly effective
educators, teachers must recognize these implications of living in an Information
Age and adapt their instruction to meet the individual needs of all students.
Understanding the ways in which learners learn best will help in choosing
appropriate multimedia applications to optimize individual student learning.
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The theory of Multiple Intelligences was first introduced in the book,
of Mind (1983) by Dr. Howard Gardner. His ideas on human learning
behaviors have sparked a revolution of sorts in classrooms across the world
for the ways in which he challenges the notion of a single, fixed intelligence
1997). The term 'Multiple Intelligences' has quickly become a
buzz word among educators. For years, teachers recognized that traditional
measures of intelligence, such as an IQ test, may have been reasonably
good at predicting a student's school performance, but they did not accurately
represent and assess the diversity of ways in which people learn.
Gardner's 'Theory of Multiple Intelligences' encourages educators to start
thinking of intelligence as a set of many different abilities and skills
that help an individual learner comprehend, examine, and respond to many
different types on content in order to solve problems or to make
something that is valued in one or more cultures (Checkley,
1997). Dr Gardner suggests that each person possesses several
[eight] Multiple Intelligences--ways in which individuals respond in different
ways to different kinds of content An overview of the eight Multiple
Intelligences are as follows (Sawatzky 1999):
|Bodily/Kinesthetic||The ability to use one's body, or parts of one's body, to solve a problem, create something, or put on a production|
|Interpersonal||The capacity to understand, communicate, and relate to other people and groups|
|Intrapersonal||The ability to understand yourself and relate to one's immediate surroundings|
|Logical/Mathematical||The capacity to manipulate numbers or understand causal systems|
|Musical/Rhythmic||The ability to think in musical terms, hear and recognize patterns, discriminate between sounds, and create music|
|Naturalist||The ability to discriminate among living things and to be in touch with one's natural surroundings|
|Verbal/Linguistic||The ability to use language, both oral and written, effectively|
|Visual/Spatial||The ability to think in pictures, images, shapes, and patterns|
In a conversation with Kathy Checkey, Gardner notes that individuals do not necessarily have the same strengths in each area or the same amalgam of intelligences. He further suggests that individuals can improve at each of the intelligences, although hypothesizes that some will improve in one area more readily than others. Gardner makes it clear that his theory merely describes a learning behavior and should not labeled as a learning style. He states that learning styles are "claims about ways in which individuals purportedly approach everything they do...You could say that a child is a visual learner, but that's not a multiple intelligences way of talking about things. What I would say is, "here is a child who very easily represents things spatially, and we can draw upon that strength if need be when we want to teach the child something new." (Checkley, 1997). According to Gardner, to understand Multiple Intelligences is to understand individuality. "The ways in which intelligences combine and blend are as varied as the faces and personalities of individuals" (Edwards, 1995). Gardner also does not rule out the possible existence of additional intelligences, but research in this field is still in its infancy.
One could literally spend hours on the Internet surfing through vast
amounts of information about the Gardner's Multiple Intelligence (M.I.)
theory of learning. Yet, it appears that regardless of individual
views or interpretations, all agree his theory is to help individuals understand,
respect, and value the ways in which they seem to learn more easily, and
use those strategies to become a more successful learners.
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"A key to effectiveness of educational technology, such as multimedia, lies in the recognition by the teacher and student that all people have learning strengths and weaknesses" (Edwards, 1995). For too many years, teachers have been relying on classroom resources that only stimulate verbal/linguistic, mathematic/logical, and on some occasions visual/spatial learning behaviors. Why? Society has been conditioned to view mastery of these learning behaviors as the epitome of intelligence, hence the popularly of IQ, SAT, GRE, state, district, and school standardized tests. Yet if educators were to put the ideas of M.I. theory into practice, they would quickly recognize how unfair traditional assessment of learning and intelligences have been. Gardner cites that "...for most places, either for ideological reasons or for financial reasons, or because they've never thought about it, treat everyone in the same way, teach them in the same way, measure them in the same way and think they've treated everybody fairly, but in fact it's exactly the opposite..." (Peck, 1994). Most of a typical school day is spent listening to unidirectional lectures, taking notes, completing worksheets, and taking memorization driven tests.
Supporters of constructivism argue that this style of passive learning
fails to engage the student in his/her own learning. A learner-centered
focus, in which students take a greater responsibility for what goes on
in their own minds, may be the better route to take in educational process.
Both student and teacher must find active ways to tailor each individual's
multiple intelligences to best acquire new concepts, ideas, and knowledge.
What better way to do this than introducing multimedia in the classroom?
Consider the following application of M.I. Theory and computer-based learning:
|Bodily/Kinesthetic||Navigating through software- or web-based scientific inquiries, dissections, and WebQuests with the use of a keyboard, joystick, mouse, science probe technology, or touch window.|
|Interpersonal||Collaborating online via listserves, chat rooms, newsgroups, and e-mail; Engaging in simulations that require two or more people.|
|Intrapersonal||Completing computer assisted instruction/ILS labs; simulations that only rely on the computer's response, self assessments, designing homepages, and word processing class assignments.|
|Logical/Mathematical||Understanding navigation through hypermedia design paradigms and BooLean logic; Generating database and spreadsheet programs; Engaging in problem solving software; Using online calculators; Utilizing multimedia authoring programs.|
|Musical/Rhythmic||Listening to *.wav, MPEG, or MIDI files associated on software and Web pages; Creating presentations that require the recording of sound(s).|
|Naturalist||Using real-time images of the natural world as a basis of a comparison study; Digitize images or the natural world captured on videotape or digital camera.|
|Verbal/Linguistic||Comparing online articles from scientific journals, magazines, businesses, schools, and independent sources; Programming multimedia presentations that incorporate desktop publishing, voice annotations, and speech output.|
|Visual/Spatial||Designing and interpreting graphical layouts; Using draw- or paint programs; Charting data in spreadsheet applications; Capturing/manipulating images from a digital camera, video, scanner, or web page; Manipulating objects in three dimensions using JAVA script.|
All too often, the teacher is the soul source of the information, the learning path tends to be teacher-to-learner, and sometimes the critical step of learning along the ways gets lost (March, 1999). Instead of being bound by the limitations of magazines, videotapes, and books available in the classrooms and libraries, multimedia applications open up a whole new world of discovery and learning. Multimedia empowers a teacher to structure lessons that reach all students--an ability so often desired, but not met in the traditional classroom. Multimedia empowers the student to take an active role in his/her own learning. And multimedia helps both teacher and student develop and strengthen all of the multiple intelligences necessary for quality learning.
In a workshop conducted by Stephen Barkley of Performance Learning Systems Inc., quality learning was defined as "when the student engages in activities that stimulate constant improvement, originality and creativity, integration of topics, depth of subject, complexity, details, active involvement, application, emotions, and ownership and pride" (Barkley, 1999). Experience has shown that individuals truly understand something when they can represent the knowledge in more than one way. Various multimedia applications can quickly and easily facilitate these needs.
Biology lends itself well to the integration of multiple intelligences
and multimedia. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase
in the accessibility of quality multimedia products. Many of these
applications are free to the general public via the Internet. As
one searches for relevant sites, it is important to look beyond the online
equivalent of a textbook or handout. Focus on finding the sparks
that create insights, contrasts that excite problem solving, the bells
and whistles to motivate, and the passion that inspires (March,
1999). Below are some selected free multimedia biology-related
Internet sites which give a user the opportunity to utilize many different
types of intelligences:
(Link to Interactive Multimedia Online Inquiry-Based Biology Labs)
to that site
||Heart Preview Gallery||
There are other possibilities of integrating learning and multimedia technology. The previous sites were dedicated to specific topics. But harvesting multimedia on the Internet can also be used to help shape activities around more general learning goals. The following diagram outlines decisions that would guide users toward a format of Web-based learning:
The diagram and explanations below were adapted from: (March, 1999)
If a teacher or student is new to the Web, the first step would be to evaluate and collect multimedia Web sites. A Topic Hotlist, usually generated by the teacher, is a collection of bookmarked sites that are most useful, interesting, and/or peculiar for a given topic and a variety of learners. A Multimedia Scrapbook could take the form of online newsletters, desktop slide presentations, and HyperStudio stacks that would focus on providing links to a variety of subject-related multimedia resources. Generated by teacher or student, the Scrapbook is built around what the individual learner defines as meaningful and helpful. Once the multimedia sites are collected it is important to make the transition to learning the information.
There are three ways to target specific learning behaviors using online multimedia resources. The first option is an online Treasure Hunt. Designed by teacher, students are given a listing of specific sites that hold information that appeal to several multiple intelligences and are essential to understanding a given topic. After sites are collected, one key question is posed for each Web site. Well-designed questions, including a culminating "Big Question" will undoubtedly engage each student in quality learning.
Subject Samplers are the ultimate in the integration of multimedia and multiple intelligences. The teacher presents six to eight intriguing Web sites organized around a main topic. Students develop a sense of connection with the topic because they are asked to respond to Web-based activities from a personal perspective. They may be asked to explore or compare personal interpretations of pictures, data, or sounds and share (by posting online) experiences they have had. This would allow the student to see that their views are valued.
Finally, WebQuests help students
go beyond learning basic facts. A WebQuest is "an inquiry activity
that presents student groups with a challenging task, provides access to
an abundance of online resources and scaffolds the learning process to
prompt higher order thinking. The products of WebQuests are usually
then put out to the world for some real feedback." These online multimedia
activities readily draw upon all of the multiple intelligences learning
behaviors. Designed around current events or controversial topics,
students are required to work intra- and interpersonally to evaluate, hypothesize
and interpret information. "All students begin by learning some common
background knowledge, then divide into groups. In the groups, each
student or pair of students have a particular role, task, or perspective
to master. They effectively become experts on one aspect of a topic.
When their roles come together, students must synthesize their learning
by completing a summarizing act such as e-mailing a congressional representatives
or presenting their interpretation to real world experts on the topic."
The advantages to integrating lessons with well-designed multimedia applications are abundant. Studies show that well-developed multimedia instruction:
The idea of reaching more students by integrating multiple intelligences
with multimedia applications has inspired many educational institutions
to use technology to bring in visitors worldwide via the Internet.
Hopefully the schools of the future will take advantage of virtual field
trips to online museums. Many museums now offer online exhibitions
that appeal to a variety of learning behaviors and offer students readily
accessible, rich learning environments. Online, students can explore
areas at their own pace and stop at exhibits that really spark their interest.
A few examples have been noted below:
The Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco, California contains an online digital library collection of past exhibitions, digital images, archived Webcasts, Webcams, searches for topics A-to-Z, and much more.
From an educator's perspective, a virtual field trip has several benefits
over the traditional out-of-school excursion. With a couple of keystrokes
and clicks of a mouse, they can travel across the world, visiting places
and experiencing things which, for many students, would be otherwise impossible.
In addition, virtual field trips require no paperwork, no money, no 'lost
time' from other classes, and can be easily and frequently revisited.
Some sites are better than others, so educators should find sites that
fully integrate linked text, graphics, audio, video, and user interaction.
Sites that meet these multimedia specifications will undoubtedly allow
students to use the kinds of intelligences in which they are strong, thus
engaging them in quality learning.
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Every good teacher wants to find better ways to motivate students and inspire quality learning in the classroom. If teachers accept Dr. Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, then they accept that all people are different and that educators should respect, value and nurture that diversity (Edwards, 1995). Yet one does not need scientific research to validate what teachers have known for centuries--regardless of age, gender, race, or socio-economic background, students like to have choices. They like freedom. They like feeling that they are smart. Plato put it memorably: "The purpose of education is to make the individual want to do what he has to do." (Gardner, 99) Students enjoy tasks in which they can predict success. Since understanding how students learn is the crucial step in a providing a quality education, offering them different opportunities to draw upon their multiple intelligences strengths is an excellent way to ensure quality learning.
Knowing that the brain behaves very much like a computer, where data
is constantly entered, stored, linked and retrieved, it only makes sense
to integrate computer software and applications to pique students' intelligences
and learning behaviors. Current research suggests that the brains
of today's students are perfectly 'wired' to navigate through multimedia
applications. Studies further suggest that students learn better
when engaged in lessons involving well-developed multimedia resources.
These resources, such as Treasure Hunts, Subject Samplers, WebQuests, or
Virtual Field Trips are relatively easy to create and/or are readily available
online for the educator. In addition to biology, there are a multitude
of applications across the curriculum that need to be incorporated in the
classroom. The use of such learning opportunities would certainly
empower students and give them the chance to develop the self-confidence,
knowledge and skills necessary to survive in this Information Age and inspire
them to become life-long learners.
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Barkley, Stephen. Raising Student Expectations. Performance Learning Systems, Inc. November 1999. <http://www.plsweb.com/index.htm>
Carvin, Andy. Traditional Intelligence Theories. EdWeb: ExploringTechnology and School Reform. August 1999. <http://edweb.gsn.org/>
Checkley, Kathy. The First Seven...and the Eighth: A Conversation with Howard Gardner. Educational Leadership, Vol. 55, No. 1. September 1997. <http://www.ascd.org/pubs/el/sept97/gardnerc.html>
Craig, David G. Learning Criteria for Multimedia Lessons. October 1996. <http://www.coe.uh.edu/insite/elec_pub/html1995/153.htm>
Edwards, Jack. Multiple Intelligences and Technology. Florida Information Resource Network. December 1995. <http://www.firn.edu/~face/about/dec95/mult_int.html>
Gardner, Howard. The Disciplined Mind. Simon & Schuster. New York, New York. 1999. p 52.
Hofstetter, Fred T. Multimedia Literacy, 2nd Edition. Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 1997. <Online Companion Reference>
March, Tom. Practice: A Role for Webbed Educator. Working the Web for Education: Theory and Practice on Integrating the Web for Learning. Ozline Web Development. September 1999. <http://www.ozline.com/learning/theory.html>
Peck, Dr. Kyle L. Howard Gardner on: Advances in Learning Theory. Reinventing Our Schools: A Conversation with Howard Gardner. 1994 <http://www.ed.psu.edu/insys/ESD/Gardner/Learning.html>
Sawatzky, Jamie. What’s New for Only
the Best 1999–2000?. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development. September 1999. <http://www.ascd.org/services/newotb/intro99.html>
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