Educational Technology Innovation and Impact/Why use Technology in Education/Spatial Intelligence

Phillip Simmons - New Educational Technologies


Spatial awareness is to do with vision and spatial judgement. People with good spatial awareness can usually boast excellent hand-eye coordination, can interpret art well and can tessellate objects easily (as in loading a truck or laying tiles).

In other words, spatial awareness is, very simply, an organized awareness of the objects in the space around us, and also an awareness of our body’s position in space.

According to, without this awareness, we would not be able to pick food up from our plates and put it in our mouths. We would have trouble reading, because we could not see the letters in their correct relation to each other and to the page. Athletes would not have the precise awareness of the position of other players on the field and the movement of the ball, which is necessary to play effectively.

As mentioned, spatial awareness requires that we have a model of the three dimensional space around us, and it requires that we can integrate information from all of our senses.

Deficiencies in spatial awareness can hold people back from achieving their full learning potential. However, there are products and therapies that can be applied in a learning environment to help develop people’s spatial awareness. illustrates some of these products.

Virtual Reality (VR), for instance, is a multi-sensory highly interactive computer based environment that can be applied in a learning environment to powerful effect. According to Education and Information Technologies, a VR system shows and exploits pedagogical principles. Passive learning is transformed into active with the experiential education provided from virtual environments. In a virtual environment the scale, information density, interaction and response, the time and the degree of user participation, can be defined and altered. Virtual learning environments allow the students to exercise different facets of their repertoire of cognitive skills.

There are practical examples of where learning technologies can be applied in a learning environment to support people relying on spatial awareness as a multiple intelligence. The training of airline pilots and forestry commission operatives historically relied on very sophisticated, expensive and remote equipment as a means of training. VR can now be applied to the same affect using desktop systems, demonstrating that the basic principles of fully immersive 3D training systems can be transferred successfully to desktops and hence increase student accessibility.

Research has also shown that the use of 3D virtual worlds can support children’s spatial abilities. An appreciation of spatial awareness can also assist certain types of problem solving activities especially in the field of mathematics.

References: accessed 27 February 2006. accessed 27 February 2006.

Education and Information Technologies, Official Journal of the IFIP Technical Committee on Education, Volume 5 Number 4 December 2000.

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