Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Computer Technology and Multiple Intelligences

When I first read Gardner's work on Multiple Intelligences (MI) in the early 90's, I related immediately to how computer technology was a great tool and catalyst to help me utilize the MI ideas in my classroom. Before I started using computer technology, my class was using only one maybe two intelligences: linguistic for sure and a bit of either inter- or intra- personal, as for the rest, that was distraction. We didn't have professional development on how to incorporate these intelligences in our classroom in the early 90's let alone before the computer technology began to take hold in some classrooms. The rest of Gardner's intelligences fell into place in the computer lab. Suddenly I was able to access my scholars through one of the intelligences. And once that was achieved then the others fell into place.

Now we have morning meetings at our school or spend an afternoon speaking about how MI is used in our classrooms. NOT how can it be used, but how it is being used. Teachers talk about their strategies, about what they have learned about their learners from various surveys, checklists, or tests. Teachers use this information to inform their instruction. This information answers many observations made by the teacher of the scholar. I know this because I hear teachers say: "Oh that is why s/he behaves that way." or "That explains why one method works in this class and another does not." Getting to how scholars learn is crucial for all teachers. Computer Technology has been very helpful in this regard.

Not only does computer technology help us access all of this material and to administer it, it also helps us employ software and web applications to realize the intelligences or genius of each of our scholars. Pacing is key in learning and the computer technology lets our scholars work at hir own pace and not at the pace of the class or teacher. Scholars can spend time on an application, repeat it, and select hir own order in which to proceed. Not all scholars work at the same pace, nor do they all work on a project in the same way. Computer technology has allowed the teacher to provide a lesson and then the scholar can proceed through it in hir own way.

What I used to say when I first worked with computers in a networked lab, was that I felt like a brain surgeon. I could observe, without my scholars knowing it, how they worked, thought, wrote. I could drop in and watch from my computer across the room from a scholar and watch hir edit and write. S/he would type, stop, backspace, move the cursor to another part of the sentence insert or delete a word and on and on. It was amazing. I was watching the brain of one of my scholars work. This of course provided me a need to better understand the brain. MI and computer technology had been the tools I used to get to brain research. And I was a mere teacher. I was blown away. In a very short period of time Brain awareness has become a valuable derivative of computer technology and MI. This research has become so precise, we now have Reading Brain research.

So now as we move into yet another decade of computer technology use in the classroom, building on the work of Gardner and brain researchers, we have begun to study the work of Robert J. Sternberg and contemplating assessing what matters. Computer Technology has raised the bar in what teachers can do in the classroom on a practical side as informed by the theory of Gardner, Sternberg, and brain researchers.

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