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Meeting the needs of introverted students with e-learning

Introversion can be easily misunderstood, especially in social settings that favor the extrovert ideal. Schools are a great example of such a setting, with group papers, oral presentations and participation points being the norm. Those students who have a quiet nature and prefer individual work are often dismissed as not-that-great students.

But just because introverted students don't express their interest and knowledge the same way as their extroverted counterparts it doesn't mean they can't be great students, on the contrary. When their learning needs are met, introverts thrive. Including e-learning in classroom instruction is a great way to meet the needs of introverted students, and here are four reasons why:

1. No overstimulation

Introverts respond to all stimuli around them. The traditional classroom is full of stimuli with so many people inside it, so it's very easy for introverted students to get distracted and lose focus over the lesson. It’s not that they want this to happen; they really can't help it.

With e-learning almost all classroom distractions simply disappear. Since there are no other people sneezing, fidgeting in their chairs or having side conversations in a virtual learning environment (actually anybody can do that, but no one else will hear or notice it), it's easier for introverted students to keep their focus and master the lesson.

2. Much needed extra-time

Introverts need more time to express their thoughts clearly. They always have 100 ideas in their heads and it's hard for anyone to manage so many thoughts at the same time. But the traditional classroom rewards fast oral participation regardless of the quality of the ideas expressed by the students.

With online courses on the other hand, the means of communication is most often than not written. Well, writing gives introverted students that extra time they need to express their ideas. Not only is it easier for them to participate in the online class, but they often manage to impress teachers with their well-thought answers.

3. The right kind of competition

Introverts hate conflict and sometimes they'll go over the top to avoid it. Especially if their hard-to-find school friends are involved. The traditional classroom encourages competition between students but pointing out winners and losers and making comparisons about who's better than whom is not something introverted students appreciate.

But in an online learning environment this pressure between wanting to be the best and not losing friends dissipates into thin air. Since students don’t see each other's progress levels, everyone can focus on improving themselves: gather as many online points, badges or trophies as possible. In this kind of environment introverted students thrive.

Read more: Gamification in the classroom: small changes and big results [Infographic]

4. Higher degree of agency

Introverts work best on their own, at their own pace. Sure, they know it's important to develop their presentation and debate skills — and this happens when other people are there, but they'd rather work individually when possible. The problem is, the traditional classroom is more inclined to group work and everyone is expected to keep up with the group pace.

With e-learning, while group work is still fully supported, each student gets a higher degree of agency with self-paced courses. Introverted students can skip the parts they already master and spend more time on those they don't quite fully get — all without really affecting the dynamic of the group. They hate to wait for others to catch up and they hate to make everyone stay in place when they themselves need to spend more time on a concept. With self-paced online courses they don't have these problems anymore.

In conclusion

All students bring color and individuality to their classrooms, no matter if they're introverted or extroverted. Great teachers know that when students’ learning needs are met they can thrive academically. All students can benefit from having e-learning included in their instruction, but introverts will rejoice.

This post was originally published on March 11, 2019 in Education for Everybody

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