Introversion is easily misunderstood; with disinterest, with being aloof, with not caring, even with being stupid. In a setting that was designed upon and promotes extroverted character traits — a school — introverted people have a hard time fitting in because of this misunderstanding of their character.
Chances are, one in three (if not even one in two) students is introverted. This means they don't particularly enjoy being surrounded by people at all times, they are not very vocal about neither their struggles nor their successes in their learning process, need a little extra time to participate in any kind of discussion and are painfully aware of their surroundings. They also prefer to engage in independent activities rather than group ones (at least once in a while).
Lastly, they may be the most competitive students you'll ever meet. That's because they're always competing with their yesterday's selves. Real group competitions may not be their favorite cup of tea actually, as they try to avoid conflict at all costs and fear losing the few friends they have if they win. But if they finally get an A at a subject after getting a lot of Bs, they'll surely think on themselves as winners.
If you're an extroverted teacher who wants to better understand introverted students, or you're an introverted teacher who wants to understand yourself a little better, check out these resources:
- Susan Cain's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, her TED Talk and her website, The Quiet Revolution
- Marzi's Introvert Doodles
- Introvert, Dear, the largest online community and publication for introverts in the world
After just browsing through these resources you'll see that introversion is not something to be fixed. Introverted students are not disinterested, aloof, or stupid; they're just different than the extroverted standard. And if their learning needs are met, they can prove to be great students.
Why e-learning is perfect for introverted students
Speaking of meeting the learning needs of introverted students, you should consider including e-learning in your instruction, if you haven't already. There are many ways to implement a blended learning strategy in your classroom and you can rest assured your introverted students will thank you for the online part of it. Here's why:
E-learning does not require a student's physical presence
The online world is a place where introverts can be alone... together. If learning can happen in such a world, introverts will rejoice. The thing with being around people has everything to do with energy. In a crowd, extroverts get energized, while introverts get their energy drained. Many don't realize this happens; but it does.
In an online learning environment all classmates and teachers are not in the same room as the student. This means that instead of paying attention to what's happening in class and also to what's being taught, the introvert student can spend their precious energy focusing on just the lesson.
E-learning is more self-paced
Everyone learns differently and each student makes progress in their own way. But traditional instruction can't take into account this fact. All students need to move on at the same speed. Those who get ahead need to wait for the others to catch up, while those who struggle will have to deal with their learning gaps on their own.
But with e-learning this isn't the case anymore. Each student can progress at their own pace. Those who easily understand the learning materials will finish the course at a fraction of the time. Those who need extra time and extra explanations can get them without keeping everyone else stuck in the same place. This lack of peer pressure is a wonderful feeling for introverts.
E-learning means more writing and less talking
Holding an oral presentation is a very important skill to master, nobody can argue about that. But at the same time, it is not the only assessment type. There are so many people who talk a lot yet say nothing. Students need to learn as well that every word counts.
Most classroom activities involve more talking and less writing; but with e-learning is the other way around. Introverted students like writing more than talking by default. When you write, you have more time to process each word. And most of all, you can edit your message — cut any unnecessary words or add more for clarity — before you share it with others.
E-learning gives the student more control
Introverts are independent creatures. They really don't understand why some people seek help even for the easiest of tasks. Not only that, but they prefer to figure out things on their own first — even harder to get things — and only when they reach a serious obstacle will they ask a colleague or a teacher for help. They prefer individual learning activities over group work.
Since e-learning removes the physical presence of others, introverted students can learn their way. All the collaboration tools a school LMS provides are great to be available (and they'll use them!) but controlling when to use them is even better for these students.
E-learning can go hand in hand with gamification
A little competition never hurt the learning process. But while most people compete against each other, introverts compete against themselves. No matter how you look at it, making obvious progress and eventually winning feels great.
Since gamification elements can so easily be implemented in online courses, competitive students will be more engaged in what they learn. Everyone will want to gather as many points as possible, add badges to their profile or get on the leaderboard. For introverted students, the progress bar may be the most important gamification element.
There are many things to consider when designing and delivering instruction to students. personality types did not make the cut until recently on a teacher's agenda. in order to meet the needs of all students — introverted ones included — teachers should seriously consider adding e-learning to their strategy.