Maximizing Multiple Intelligence Through Multimedia:
A Real Application of Gardner’s Theories
by Graham P. Martin • Germantown Academy • Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
Carter Burnette • Whatever Productions • Jenkintown, Pennsylvania
MultiMedia Schools • October 2000

Templates to Help You Get Started
To help you get started, we have developed a series of template HTML documents that can be accessed in Zip format (240k) at These pages are designed to be placeholders for the student showcase and utilize an open architecture for a variety of functions. Download the Zip file and create a new folder. Unzip the files into the newly created folder. Macintosh users can use Stuff It Expander to decompress the Zip file.

The pages were created with Macromedia Dreamweaver 2 because this software makes creating mouseovers a breeze. [If you decide to buy Dreamweaver, don’t forget to take advantage of the terrific educational discounts offered by Macromedia. You can also download a FREE evaluation copy from their Web site.] We feel mouseovers add interactivity and make the product more identifiable for kids. We’re going to show you how to edit the pages using Netscape’s Composer, which comes bundled with Navigator. We chose this software because it is free! 

As teachers, we spend endless hours developing lessons and crafting activities, all of which must integrate technology, comply with new curricular standards, and be effective and meaningful for our students. I [Graham] knew that in order to serve my students better, I had to work smarter, not harder. That meant incorporating more, in the same amount of time. That also meant I had to plan activities with less breadth and more depth.

Howard Gardner in his theory of Multiple Intelligences provides insight into the way students assimilate information []. Gardner has identified eight “accepted” modes of learning: Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, Mathematical, Musical, Naturalist, and Spatial. Traditional education emphasizes Linguistic and Mathematical Intelligences, while current testing and reporting methods do not allow us to measure growth in all intelligence sets.

An electronic portfolio can be an instrument to both establish baselines as well as to measure growth in all of the intelligence sets that Gardner has identified. At its simplest, a portfolio is a repository of work or interactions of a particular student during the year. Therefore, this means of assessing growth and reporting has to be an integral part of the curriculum and not an “add-on.” We also decided the only way to measure growth in all of the intelligences was to look at the electronic portfolio as a malleable resource so it could better reflect the students’ development. The work reflected is a cumulative showcase.

We [Graham and Carter] realized that “working smarter” meant my activities had to encompass a broader array of learning styles within the time allotted. The effectiveness of an activity (Activity Effectiveness or AE) is increased by addressing more Multiple Intelligences (MI). Therefore, AE is proportional to the number of intelligences  addressed. An additional factor is the amount of time spent on an activity. If we decrease the amount of time spent on an activity and achieve the same result, its effectiveness increases. Therefore, AE is inversely proportional to time (T). The resulting formula postulates the relationship among these three components: AEaMI/T. This provided us with the framework to determine if the activities planned in my classroom were as effective as possible. As a working theory of time classroom management, this hypothesis was very useful.

To assess my current classroom activities with regard to Gardner’s Theory, we developed a matrix showing Intelligences against Activities. This visual representation enabled us to easily identify the strengths and weaknesses of the activities I had planned. By analyzing the data in this matrix, it is evident that most of this curriculum is still based on the two traditional intelligences: Linguistic and Mathematical. However, integrating more intelligence sets could develop more effective activities. Additionally, we noted that activities occurring outside of my core curriculum complemented inherent gaps in the matrix (see Figure 1).

The next step was to determine which of these activities readily translated into components for an electronic portfolio. Luckily for me, most of my current activities could be used, and with some creative insight, we were able to develop “deliverable” components from the activities that did not easily fit. An example of a typical transformation was to change the dreaded “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” writing exercise into a multimedia project by incorporating sound, video, maps, or artwork. Students interviewing peers would also support the interpersonal intelligence set.

In order for my students to identify with the electronic portfolio, it was named “CD-Me.” We decided to use a browser as the main interface for the CD-Me, enabling all of my students to view the materials from home, regardless of platform (see Figure 2).

Looking at the matrix allowed us to restructure the existing curriculum to maximize learning opportunities for the students. New activities were developed to strengthen the curriculum weaknesses that the matrix uncovered. The new activities incorporated more of the Intelligences to make the learning process more valid, effective, enjoyable, and meaningful for the students.

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences allows us to value different modes of learning. The Multiple Intelligence/Activity Matrix is an excellent tool to help visualize curriculum strengths and weaknesses. Until new tools can be developed, multimedia may be the best vehicle to monitor growth in all of the intelligence sets. More importantly, the “CD-Me” provides more ownership than a traditional report card. It empowers the student by helping them identify the learning style most beneficial for them.

So with careful attention to activity planning and an appreciation of learning styles, an electronic portfolio may provide a more holistic approach to evaluating child development.

How to Make an Electronic Portfolio
Now that we are aware of the benefits of an electronic portfolio, we’re ready to build one.

To ensure that all of our students could utilize the product from home, we decided to use hypertext documents on a CD-ROM. This media offers 650 megabytes of storage, and we found it to be the most cost effective.

Planning is essential
The first step is to plan the activities you want to include, the type of media you wish to incorporate, and the time necessary to complete the project. Be sure to include enough time to encompass your entire production process. Look at each step carefully, from the time it takes to insert items into a template, through the final stage of actually burning the CD itself. Our matrix helped us decide what to include for our students. You might want to construct one for yourself.

The next step was to determine how these activities would be included in the portfolio. Multimedia by its inherent nature affords us the ability to incorporate a variety of formats. We are given the freedom to choose text, graphics, audio, video, or any combination. We found that adapting our Activity matrix to include media formats was another useful tool (see Figure 3).

Another integral component of the planning process was the time factor. If an activity was already a part of the curriculum, there was no need to allow extra time. However, the time for new and updated activities had to be taken into account. Upon close scrutiny, we were able to make more effective use of “lost time.” For example, we found that we could use the time before school officially started to take photographs for the Digital Head Project.

Additional “lost time” was recovered by multi-tasking my classroom operations. I knew I could easily burn a couple of CDs while correcting a math test. I also learned that the construction of the individual pages themselves is not too time-consuming. In fact, in most cases, it is as simple as “copy and paste!!”

As a supplemental guide, we suggest that you purchase Laura LeMay’s Teach Yourself Web Publishing in HTML in a Week. Although we found most HTML editors to be great tools, the editors don’t offer the flexibility that one gains by knowing the code.

Our goal was to make the construction of an electronic portfolio as simple as possible by using templates and a few simple guidelines. We chose six backgrounds (black, blue, red, green, white, and gold) to complement a variety of school colors. Each of the template sets consists of two pages: a main “splash” page and a supplementary page. Though these pages work well together, you or your students may want to use a combination of the color sets. Feel free to modify the template to fit your specific needs. Be creative. Remember that you are trying to create a product that is fun for your students.

Splash Page
The main page has placeholders for a student’s picture, a school logo, and buttons for the components of the portfolio itself. The school’s logo can be inserted in the first column of the table. Use the buttons in the second column as navigation tools to other documents in your collection. The buttons are grouped in a 5x5 grid, and each one toggles during a mouseover. The student can select the number of buttons needed to create a shape of their choosing—perhaps even their initial!! Clicking on and then deleting them easily removes the buttons. We have also included a sample portrait in the third column. We found that a portrait, 175 pixels by 175 pixels, works well here. You could even utilize this space to import video or other media like FLASH, or Real Player files.

Using Netscape’s Composer to Edit the Pages
Let’s first pick one of the six templates and save it to another file to ensure the template remains intact. To begin editing with Composer, chose the Edit Page option under the FILE menu from Netscape’s Navigator. If you are familiar with any of the popular word-processing programs, you’ll find editing with Composer to be fairly intuitive. To add text, simply click on the screen and type. Formatting tools for text are conveniently located on the toolbar.

Notice that dashed lines denote the framework for the table. For this exercise, we have linked the first button to the corresponding secondary page. To change the link location, simply double-click the image and the Format dialogue box will appear. This series of boxes is consistent among editing states, and the actions used to link graphics are the same as for text. Notice that the dialogue box has three sections that relate to different aspects of the highlighted object.

The second level, called Link, formats the attributes of the hypertext link. This is where we choose the document that will be called upon after a user presses the corresponding link. Simply type in the appropriate file name or select the file from your document list.

Remember, you’re not restricted to only linking to other hypertext documents. If you would like a user to hear a sound after pressing a button, link the button to the appropriate sound file. The same is true to link any type of document that you may want to incorporate. Do make sure that the file type you use will be supported on all of your users’ machines.

The next section formats the Image attributes for the selected object. Use this section to resize a graphic, add floating space around it, incorporate a border, or change the way text wraps to it. If at any time you become stuck, help is readily available.

The third section, Paragraph, is used to modify text attributes. Most users, however, will probably use the toolbar to make changes that will affect these attributes.

Supplementary Pages
The supplementary page can be replicated as many times as necessary. Don’t forget to rename each page to ensure the original template remains intact. These pages can contain text, graphics, video, or audio and were designed with an open architecture to satisfy a variety of needs. We’ve found it useful to copy word-processed documents into the template and save them as HTML. We wanted to be able to reach the broadest audience and were confident that all of our students had access to a simple browser. Select a button from the Splash Page and link it to a newly created supplementary page.

Some of your students may want to utilize the HTML features of their word processors to create supplementary pages. However, we don’t advise you do this to the Splash pages, as your word processor may not be able to handle the JavaScript that powers the mouseovers.

Using Plug-Ins and Other Media Formats
As the architecture of the CD-Me is so open, almost any file format you choose works. However, care should be taken to ensure that the necessary plug-in or browser settings are updated appropriately. We have found that bundling the plug-in on the CD-Me provides our users with all of the necessary components needed to run the files. You may want to include the setup files for the plug-ins you choose. For example: Confused about how to serve your audio files? So were we, but we finally opted for Real Media files. We felt the versatility of formats served—video, audio, and SMIL—and the fact that it is the most widely distributed plug-in, eliminated the need to second-guess our users’ configurations and provided a standardized multimedia format. Accordingly, we bundle the setup file for the FREE Real Player with every one of our portfolios.

We hope that we have provided you with a cursory overview into the steps required to make a successful electronic portfolio. By providing our open architecture CD-Me templates that are easy to use, we intend to empower you and your students with readily made resources designed to get you up and running quickly.

Since multimedia is the only format to date that can monitor growth in all of the intelligences that Gardner has identified, we’re confident that with careful planning, an electronic portfolio can be an invaluable tool to help students identify the learning style that is most comfortable for them.

The Digital Head Project
We chose to include this activity because it was one of the most effective ways of introducing many of the skills we wanted to teach. A Digital Head is an exercise in simple animation that creates a moving portrait. The technique produces a 360-degree likeness that is more realistic.

By insisting that the students use the digital camera to photograph each other, we encourage the interpersonal skill of cooperation. The spatial, linguistic, and logical intelligences are all utilized in the setup and execution of this project. 

The “model” sat on a chair and moved through eight poses, each 45 degrees from the previous one. To ensure the background remained static, we used a tripod. A peer serves as photographer and coaches the subject to remain stationary during the photography sequence.  

These photos are downloaded onto the computer, resized, and saved in the GIF format. Using GIFBuilder to loop the frames, an animated GIF of the model’s head can be created.

Graham P. Martin has taught at Germantown Academy for 8 years. He has been both math and grade level coordinator and serves as Curricular Technology Coordinator and Troubleshooter in the Lower School. He has taught in Massachusetts and the U.K. He obtained his BSc from Manchester University and also holds a PGCE. Communications to Graham can be sent in care of Germantown Academy, Morris Road, Fort Washington, PA 19034; 215/646-3300, ext. 501; e-mail:

Carter Burnette is the executive director of WhatEver Productions, a multimedia consulting firm. WhatEver Productions specializes in new media marketing for the recording arts and sciences, developing Web sites and multimedia programs for professional musicians. He is the fifth generation of educators from his family. Communications to Carter can be sent in care of WhatEver Productions, 428 Baeder Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046; phone: 215/517-5257; fax: 215/517-5258; e-mail:

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