The Library


Seven Styles of Learning;

the part they play when developing interactivity

by Elaine Winters


Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, hypothesizes that human beings are capable of seven independent means of information processing. How many do you think are considered when a team brainstorms a new product proclaiming itself to be 'interactive?'

I've reframed/reworded the seven here because I want to impart the sense of play that I think is a critical aspect of how we learn.

As Interactivity and MultiMedia move away from the 'point and click' mentality of 'learning as action game' perhaps these seven ideas of learning can be used as a jumping off point toward developing new and challenging ways to impart information. If we do this, I think we can accommodate all the intelligences that compose the human mind.

(See if you recognize yourself, siblings, peers, colleagues, and clients . . . in these descriptions.)


'Plays with Words'

We start with the person who loves to play with language; to tell stories and read and write. This learner is pretty good at remembering names, places, dates, and similar.

If you give this person an opportunity to hear, see and say words associated with the desired outcome, they will, readily, learn practically anything of interest to them.


'Plays with Questions'

Here is a learner who likes to figure things out by asking questions, exploring, and doing some experimenting. This person is, usually, good at math, and logic/problem solving.

This person learns best when you've provided opportunities to classify, categorize, and work with abstractions and their relationship to one another.


'Plays with Pictures'

This person is one who enjoys drawing, designing, and looking at pictures, slides, videos, and films.

This person is especially proficient at imagining, sensing changes, doing puzzles, and reading charts and maps. Information is best absorbed by visualizing, using the 'mind's eye', manipulating (working in some way) with pictures and colors.


'Plays with Music'

A hummer of tunes, a singer of songs; probably plays an instrument, and is always listening to music. This person excels at remembering melody, noticing the rhythms of life, and keeps perfect time.

Therefore, this learner gets new information via melodies, musical notation, or rhythm as an critical aspect of the delivery system.


Plays with Moving'

A person in motion; touching while talking, and using the body to express ideas. This person is a dancer, plays sports, and participates in producing a variety of crafts. <p> Learning here has to have a kinetic component; interacting with space in some way so as to process, and remember, the new information through the body.


'Plays with Socializing'

The joiner; always with a group of people and talking with friends. Leading others is a obvious skill, along with, organizing, mediating, communicating and generally understanding people and how to work well with them.

Impart new information to this person by giving opportunities to compare and contrast, interview others with and about information, sharing ideas, and cooperating to accomplish any given task.


'Plays Alone'

This person really does better alone; pursuing self defined interests. Excels at 'knowing' himself, follows instincts with confidence, and is an original.

New information is absorbed best when the projects are individual, self-paced, and singularly oriented.



As information is assembled into a data base and ideas are gathered for how to impart that information think of all these alternative ways of presentation. These speak to the infinite capacity of the human mind to absorb, analyze, and synthesize.

To interact.



Gardner, H., 1983, Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books Moore, D. T., 1986, Learning at work: Case studies in non-school education. IN: Anthopology and Education Quarterly, v17, 166-184 <li>Winters, E., 1994, The New Technologies and Communication. Performance and Instruction, v33, n9.