Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Innovative Training Delivery Methods For Computer-Based Networked Classrooms

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A recent article appearing on Learningcircuit and its subsequent mention by Stephen Downes in its always so-rich and insightful OLDaily newsletter, prompted me to share some discoveries and experience-based realizations I have made over the course of many years of delivering training courses in computer-based classrooms.

In a computer-based classroom all kinds of courses can and are delivered in many companies, institutions and international organizations around the world. Fact is that most training rooms now are equipped with computers, and as a consequence, even courses that never had anything to do with computers before are now exposed to this technology and to the opportunity of using it for their benefit.
For the most part, computers inside classrooms that have a physical trainer are one of the best hiding and escape tools. There is nothing more common than seeing people looking very serious at their monitor as if that was good enough justification for not looking or following the trainer explanations.
Computers in the classroom give participants all the reasons to distract and escape in all kinds of directions. There are those that cannot resist going to check their email. Others can't live without finding out what temperature they are having back home in Australia. There are some that just can stop clicking and exploring whatever they find. Some can't leave without checking CNN, BBC or Google News to get their hourly dose of the latest.

You really have a great variety of these "distractors" embedded right in every computer facing your class participants. The computer reveals itself to be also a great physical hiding place as with the coming of larger monitors I am now seeing more and more often people disappearing behind them. My view today in my typical computer-based classroom is 60% monitors and 40% human faces.

In this situation, it is easy to blame it on the computers and even more often with the participants. They are just not serious enough, we say. They don't care about the training, we think.
The real truth is that many of us are worth nothing us trainers.

Worse is than those same ones have hardly understood that computers are not in the classroom because we have to learn ABOUT THEM, but ALSO BECAUSE we can use them to learn MORE and BETTER.
On top of this way too often, we find that inexperienced instructional designers and "professional" trainers use one particular activity and continue to repeat it exclusively, when other types of meaningful activities would create more variety, increase learner interest, and appeal to multiple learning styles.
Computers are wonderful general appliances that we can use for so many interesting and useful things. Why are we not using these computers when we train, facilitate, demo, showcase and coach a classroom?

"But isn't that what we ARE doing already when we use PowerPoint?"

Yes, that is what most everyone thinks, but happily, I tend to see things in a completely different perspective.

PowerPoint presentations are rarely any better than a professor talking or somebody taking the podium and using some overhead transparencies. Given the communication/presentation potential ensued by these machines and the design knowledge that humanity has collected over thousands of years, what I see achieved by most international presenters is really something to be ashamed of.
So, while PowerPoint presentations, COULD BE valuable instruments of learning if designed and prepared in ways that are very different from what we see today, they are not certainly the only or the best ways that you and I can effectively employ computers for learning in a networked classroom.
My attempt to provide some vision in this direction will be guided by the fascinating work of Howard Gardner, creator of the theory of multiple intelligences (MI), who has much contributed to further increase our awareness of the different ways in which people process information and learn new things.

As you review the list of suggestions below, remember that each one of us has developed one or more of these "intelligences" and that not all will be appealing to all of the people in your classes. As a matter of fact beware of those who will resist such innovation as that is to expected and accounted for in your plan to improve and innovate your training delivery methods.

The best way to facilitate a great learning experience for your students is to allow as many different learning methods to be used during a course, as they appeal to different individuals and the different concepts and ideas to be learned.

The types of "intelligences" listed here are the basic seven ones identified by Howard Gardner plus two more I have adopted from the interesting article written by Margie Meacham at Learning Circuits:
E-Learning 1.0
Using Multiple Intelligence Theory in the Virtual Classroom

"Robin Good's Computer-Based Training Delivery Methods
For Different Types Of Learning Intelligences"

1. Linguistic

These people like to deal with words, semantic issues and with the verbalization of concepts and ideas. They also enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles. People with this type of intelligence tend to think in terms of
words rather than pictures.

Some effective computer-based activities that can be adopted in a networked classroom for these type of learners are:

1) Utilizing the outlining facility of PowerPoint to structure and summarize the key points of a topic or the steps to be taken in a process.

2) Writing a journal in which the concepts learned are explained and retold in personal words. The use of a weblog/blog facility may further participants to do well, especially if they are aware that others will be able to see their work. (For weblog tools recommended see:
TypePad and
Bloki among many others).
3) Using the computer to take organized detailed notes of a team/group and enriching them with valuable annotated references searched and found with major Internet search engines. (Specialized search tools like Copernic Agent)

4) Developing an ongoing discussion thread on a selected topic and moderating the other participants toward defining an issue or suggesting solutions to a problem.
(Live discussion boards like WebBoard, UBB by Infopop or tools like Groove).

5) Engaging a group in a text chat discussion about the topic being analyzed with a specific assignment to be completed by the group.
(NetOP School, NetSupport School)

6) Answering computer-delivered quizzes and tests.
(NetSupport School)
7) Participating in polls or written surveys.
(NetSupport School )

2. Logical-Mathematical

Adult learners with a logical-mathematical intelligence have a great affinity for calculating solutions and solving complex puzzles. They like working with statistics and with the analysis of patterns. They are also good at categorizing and at identifying relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

People with a highly developed ability to use reason, logic, and numbers tend to think by using patterns and linking concepts. These learners always like to ask a lot of why? questions and expect detailed answers that help them link pieces of information together.

These group of people may particularly benefit from the following computer-based learning activities:

1) Calculating statistics relating to the issue being studied and visualizing patterns deriving from it.

2) Benchmarking, comparing, analyzing the pros and cons, the strengths and weaknesses of one solution versus another. By using spreadsheet technology and group sharing applications peer groups can develop fascinating collaborative work together.
(OpenOffice, 602Tab, both free).
3) Resolving a computer-based game-adventure in which lots of decisions are based on evaluating many hard facts.

4) Utilizing simulation tools to create scenarios in which each student can try out different approaches to a real world situation. (Please see Forio Simulations)

5) Searching and gathering information online to resolve an assignment. (Search engines - search tools. See my Mini-Guide on the best Search Toolbars. These are ideal for classroom assignments.)

6) Selecting, classifying or organizing separate items into larger groups. (Database tools or simple categorization utilities)

3. Bodily-kinesthetic

Individuals who have a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence perform and process information very effectively through their body sensations. Music and tempo are factors that can greatly enhance their learning capability. These persons also enjoy hand work that requires dedication and precision. Some of them may also like to perform in front of others.

Some effective computer-based activities that can be adopted in a networked classroom for these type of learners are:

1) Using educational game tools that allow these learners to have a visual and motory kinesthetic experience. This is achieved with any game that gives the end user the ability to interact through movement, responsiveness and skilful hand dexterity. (I recall Typing Tutor in the version that I had over ten years ago allowed me to shoot at falling letters while keeping my typing fingers on the correct keys. The game, called Letter Invaders gave me a skill I was too eager to acquire while having a lot of fun.

2) Adopting realistic simulation tools that allow the learner to feel in the "driver seat".
(Black and White, SimCity and other similar games in which the player controls a whole universe as little God).

3) Image and music rich educational tools are very effective with these individuals as they enjoy creating and discovering through movement and kinesthetic (audiovisual) interaction. (Groove Blender)

4) Developing interactive mini-tutorials that explain small parts of a learning topic to a student and then allow him/her to try it out fully.

5) Immersive videogaming in which players participate with their bodies in a game-originated virtual scenario. (RealityFusion Discovery Games)

4. Spatial

These learners have a tremendous affinity with geometry and the visual appearance and dimensions of information. These people think and reason mostly through images and pictures. They enjoy drawing, painting, and working with visual puzzles. They are also great at fantasizing, designing or conceiving new ideas.

These group of people may particularly benefit from the following computer-based learning activities:

1) Working and carrying assigned activities inside interactive visual information spaces.
(Visual Thesaurus)

2) Researching information, resources or references through the use of visual search engines. (Kartoo)

3) Looking online for images that best portray a specific concept.
(Image search engines e.g.:

5. Musical
People with musical intelligence are always singing or drumming to themselves. They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.
Learners with a heightened ability to appreciate and produce music tend to think in sounds, rhythms, and patterns. They're also extremely sensitive to environmental sounds that might be interpreted only as background noise by other learners.
Try to engage these learners with some of these activities :

1) Providing them with audio/visual learning "objects" that allow them maximum independence in learning a mini-topic and rehearsing the content as many times as needed. ( Interactive presentation technologies - could be a Flash based tool)
(Color Calculator)

2) Engaging participants in developing presentations that use sound effects intelligently and with a purpose in the communication process. For example to accentuate the key points in a presentation play or in selecting the optimal background music to enhance the presentation of specific information or desired attitude/mood. (Presentation tools)

3) Providing opportunity for these individuals to play with highly conceptual games that while relating to the topic of interest being studied allow them to visualize concepts and ideas in a simplified visual format and to manipulate, organize and interconnect such elements in any possible way.

4) Underlining and emphasizing key learning moments during a training session with carefully selected sound clips, short music cuts and appropriate fun phrases. With great moderation. (Finger Prince from Milori Training Tools.)

5) Creating a soothing learning atmosphere during exercises and assignments by providing suitable, non-distracting music that can both relax participants and allow them to focus more on the issue at hand.
(Selected CDs with "learning" music to be used at the appropriate moments).

6. Interpersonal

Interpersonal intelligence is often well represented by those people who are natural leaders among their peers and who are good at communicating effectively. These people often reveal a unique sensitivity toward their team-mates and they appear to be particularly tuned into other people feelings and motives even when they go unexpressed.

Learners with an advanced ability to communicate, guide and relate to others often best process the capturing of their knowledge by linking it to a story about how other people feel in a given situation. They enjoy learning in a team setting, collaborating and exchanging with other people, and they are in many cases "natural leaders".

These group of people may particularly benefit from the following computer-based learning activities:

1) Leading a group assignment that is computer-based. Utilizing breakout rooms this people can guide and coordinate a small group in carrying a specific assignment.
(NetOp School is a desktop software that first introduced this functionality for computer-based networked classrooms.)

2) Capturing best practices and ideas from others and cross-breeding ideas and viewpoints among separated groups. In the course, these people are very effective at looking at how other teams solve a problem and then at sharing and demonstrating the solution to their own team. (NetOp School and NetSupport School are two tools that allow great cross-breeding of ideas and best practices when utilized to turn the big brother monitoring function of what students are doing on its head. Let the students see what each one of them is doing so that the slow can learn from the fast and the beginner can imitate the pro. See my head review of these two tools to understand more of how many fantastic and useful things they can help you do in the classroom).

3) Role-playing the same case from several different points of view analyzing case studies for motivations, conflict, feelings, or intentions using verbal skills to build consensus or agreement.

7. Intrapersonal

While typically these people appear to be shy they are indeed very aware of their own feelings and are deeply self-motivated. These people process information by reflecting on their own strengths and weaknesses, establishing dreams and goals, and understanding their relationships with others. They can guide small groups in identifying roles and solutions with more effectiveness.

Individuals with this type of intelligence would best benefit from the following types of computer-based learning activities:

1) Participating in the design, and delivery of survey and polls to be used during the class. (NetSupport School)

2) Engaging peer groups or small teams in computer-based "role plays" that allow participants to play as if they were in a real-world situation. (Oddcast SitePal offers an interesting tool for delivering this kind of exercise).

3) Involving them in an online threaded discussion around a key critical topic. (Live threaded bulletin board like WebBoard, UBB by Infopop or with tools like Groove).

4) Having them report or prepare a mini-guide for others on how they effectively succeeded in implementing the new know-how in a real-word situation/class assignment. Make the effort go online so that the authors are highly motivated to do something that will be used for other, and future students will have more and better guidance to learn their favourite topic. (Online presentation delivery and sitribution services like ReplayHQ as well as hosted Blog tools like:
TypePad and
Bloki among many others).

8. Visual

People with a strong visual capacity tend to think in pictures and will create pictures in their minds to represent thoughts or concepts. These learners respond particularly well to learning activities that let them see key points demonstrated with detailed graphics or visual effects, such as in a PowerPoint presentation watch a video of a process or a story that pertains to the course

These learners respond particularly well to learning activities that let them:

1) Working in a visual space to search, analyze or create new content. Visual music creation tools are one hint of how visual space can be made useful and learnable something that under traditional approaches would have appeared intimidating.
(GrooveBlender, Sonic Foundry's SuperDuperMusicLooper).

2) Creating visual diagrams, charts or other visual maps that allow other learners to better understand the complexity of a concept or the different relationships between the multiple components (See mind-mapping tools).

3) Creating completely visually based mini-presentations that summarize and recount the steps, issues or concepts covered in a specific course session.
Viewlet Builder,
among many other ones.)

4) Designing visual posters to capture the essence of a certain issue or idea and with the assigned responsibility of making this effective for an awareness campaign. (OpenOffice [free], Microsoft Powerpoint, Serif PhotoPlus 5.5 [free])

5) Sharing mind-mapping software or graphic design tools to better understand a problem or to collaborate on a solution design, while using a whiteboard and live markup and annotation tools.
(NetSupport School, NetOp School)

6) Accessing corporate or institutional resources containing all of the visual resources of the organization and selecting images that support effectively a specific message without the aid of words.

9. Naturalist intelligence

People with a unique sensitivity for nature and the universe and with a deep encompassing understanding of the world around them like to experience wilderness, and relate very well to nature and animals. They are instinctively curious and open to learn new things as many explorers indeed are. As understanding comes indeed from exploration these learners will best respond to computer-based activities like the following ones:

1) Searching and identifying specific online resources, references, solutions or examples relating to the content being studied. (Google, Fagan Finder, Copernic Agent and many more) see my mini-guide of Search Toolbars).

2) Analizying other Web sites and finding characteristics and traits that make for differentiation among certain tools/products/points of view/etc.

3) Designing a virtual field trip to show other learners sites that can tell a specific story when visited in a specific sequence (ezWebTour/ezWebCar).

I understand that for many of you this will be a great challenge. If you have been lecturing and presenting topics with a little exercise at the end, yes this is like jumping the Grand Canyon.

But if you have been looking for methods and tools to enrich your participants learning experience, while engaging them in fruitful and fun activities, you now have found what you were looking for.

Implementing these methods and technologies is something that anyone can do. It takes only passion and humbleness for learning what you do not know yet.

It maybe hard, it may feel unnatural at the beginning, but it can be done. And I will tell you, the results are going to be spectacular.

Adult learners cannot stand anymore this prison called classroom and outdated trainers who think they are the recipients of knowledge. Learning must be an interactive experience, where in the best cases, trainers or better yet, facilitators can learn as much or more than the learners themselves.

So you can see that this is first of all a mater of attitude, ethics and of what each one of us believes learning to be.

For those of you that understand that learning is just concentrated life focussing on one specific interest, your goal is to recreate the rich variety, the thick multi-dimensional and colorful rainbow of different activities that make life in the physical universe.

As it is in daily life that we normally learn and comprehend most of what we know. Bring that variety of tasks and that rich variety of mental activities can only facilitate the job that each individual faces when confronted with something new.

She does not want to hear about it: she want to try it, experience it, see it, discuss it and tear it apart. Just as we do in life.

Bring life back into the computerize classroom, please.

N.B.: Please check this review of computer-based classroom software which gives a good look at two tools that can provide the actual means in the way of facilitating the adoption of these learner-centered delivery methods into our today computerized classrooms.


*Multiple Intelligences* (Howard Gardner)

Here are some sites where you can measure your possible learning intelligence type and learn more about MI.

1) Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligence
A good place to start. The site offers an online self-test and addresses the importance of MI when working with people who have learning disabilities or attention deficit disorder.

2) Learning to Learn offers a free 10-module course on how people learn, including a module on MI.

3) Walter McKenzie's site offers a newsletter and a self-test for learning styles.

4) Multiple Intelligence Inventory, a site maintained by the Learning Disabilities Resource Community (LDRC), provides an MI inventory as well as a good number of valuable online resources and projects.

5) Video games as teaching tools?
For most adults, the three Rs of education are readin', 'riting and 'rithmatic.
For today's kids, though, recreation, reflexes and RPGs might be more apropos.

6) The Impact Of Digital Games In Education
The impact of digital games in education by BegoƱa Gros. This paper is based on the idea that virtual learning is central in current society, and that the key aspect of this kind of learning is not so much technology itself but the interaction of the learner with the technology. Virtual learning environments offer many advantages: Flexibility, distribution, and adaptability. However, there is another domain with tremendous potential for reaching, motivating, and fully involving learners: The world of games.

7) Professor James Paul Gee Shows The World The Importance Of Video Games
GameZone interview with the visionary Professor.

The above references have been first discovered and published by:
8) E-Learning 1.0
"Using Multiple Intelligence Theory in the Virtual Classroom"
by Margie Meacham

This article was originally inspired by a post appeared on
9) Stephen Downes' OLDaily

Combining what we know about multiple intelligences with virtual computer-based classroom software features can help us transfrom the boring traditional classroom experience into an engaging, emotionally-rich and memorable learning achievements.

Let me know where you stand.

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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, July 12 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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