How Educational Technology Can Support Multiple Intelligences

It’s an important step, moving from a focus on how smart learners are to how they are smart.  The theory of multiple intelligences is certainly nothing new (it was introduced 30 years ago).  It is, however, being given a new context thanks to the current expansion of educational technology.  One of the key missions of ed tech developers is to personalize education, so that a student’s individual needs can be met and their talents recognized.  Ed tech is vast and flexible enough to support just about all types of education, which is key because no one is intelligent in just one way, or in the same ways for their entire life.  Even more importantly, few educators have the time, space or resources to be all things to all learners at the same time, and in this respect, ed tech can be a valuable extension of their resources.

To get the ball rolling, here is a brief run-down of nine different intelligences, as well as some suggestions for ed tech that can support them.


  • This means being smart about nature, and able to see connections between things, as well as how individuals fit into a bigger ecosystem.
  • These learners respond well to mobile technology, which allows them to venture out of the classroom and into the great outdoors.  Internet resources can be used to study weather patterns, climate change, as well as organisms and their habitats, but orienteering and geocaching apps can also captivate naturalistic learners.


  • Musical learners are, of course, smart about rhythm, melody, and harmony.
  • Using technology for musical learners is not such a stretch, as music and technology have been joining forces for some time now.  This type of learner may enjoy using technology to write their own compositions, experiment with electronic sounds, and share music online.


  • These learners are smart about patterns, numbers, and equations.
  • There’s never been a shortage of both hardware and software geared towards mathematics and logic, and it can be an engaging way for leaners to learn and practice concepts.  Programming itself is an exercise in logic, and it’s increasingly being taught to even very young learners.


  • These learners are smart about words, language, and both written and verbal discussion.
  • Like music, literature has been making friends with technology for quite a while.  There are a plethora of web and app resources that involve poetry, storytelling, learning new languages.  Verbal/Linguistic learners also love to blog.


  • Interpersonal learners are smart about people, relationships, and social interaction.
  • Social media is a goldmine for learners like this.  It not only presents opportunities to examine nuances of human relationships, but it provides a huge global community with which to interact.


  • Intrapersonal learners are smart about self, thoughts, and inner reflection.
  • Learners like this thrive when allowed to work independently, which is easily done with a computer or table.  However, but the reflective aspect of all this screen time isn’t always automatic.  To blend both independence and reflection, technology can be used to encourage journaling and the creation of multimedia pieces such as videos and wikis.


  • These learners are smart about the body, activity, and movement.
  • It used to be difficult to facilitate movement while sitting in front of a screen, but with the advent of systems like Wii and Kinect, new possibilities are emerging.  Ed tech also provides opportunities for hands-on, tactile experiences, such as robotics.


  • Visual/Spatial learners are smart about shapes, colours, and spaces.
  • Screens and tablets are, let’s face it, largely visual, so engaging this type of learner with tech isn’t too challenging.  What’s exciting is all of the emerging technology surrounding 3D visuals, animation, modelling, and graphic design.


  • Existential learners are smart about big questions, and deeper meanings.
  • Can you get deep about a computer or a tablet?  Of course you can!  Learners can be encouraged to “get meta” and discuss what a robot is, what it means for a computer to think, and how technology has changed the way we live.  Social media can unite existential thinkers and allow them to share ideas and discuss with others. Yup, there are apps even for subjects like philosophy.

How does an educator or parent implement ed tech with a varied and diverse group of learners?  Perhaps the best way is to take cues from students themselves.  They tend to have a pretty good sense of what’s new and exciting, and once a teacher is aware of new devices and platforms, he or she can get creative in how they’re used to captivate learners.  This doesn't just apply to children, either.  It’s never too late for a lifelong learner to find new tools that work in tandem with their own strengths and aptitudes.

Amy Leask is VP of Enable Education. 


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