Anyone who has ever sat in a classroom is familiar with the quiet student who sits in the back and rarely speaks up. Depending on the class, I probably fit that profile at times. Introverts, or those who tend to shy away from classroom interaction, can pose a unique challenge for educators trying to build a more interactive classroom. As our curricula shift to embrace an active learning philosophy, how can we best accommodate the introvert? While we might not see any studies on the impact of technology on the life of the introverted student any time soon – there are characteristics inherent to these quiet learners that can be leveraged through technology.
In her recent book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain argues that we’ve lost sight of the real value of time spent not speaking – and points out that sometimes forced collaboration can block the path to innovation. As in all things it seems the answer is balance and choice. Managing students in the classroom can already seem like a juggling act – but the key to making sure you’re reaching the introverted student may be to make sure you’re giving them the option to engage with material in a method that best suits them Synchronous and asynchronous tools in Blackboard Learn provide instructors with a variety of tools to choose from. Wikis and discussion boards in Blackboard Learn offer students the ability to engage with materials and collaborate with peers on their own terms in an asynchronous environment. Additionally, instant messaging and web conferencing expand opportunities for students to collaborate and communicate with each other and instructors, in a real-time.
Perhaps the biggest key to educating the Introvert is to make sure that you, as an educator, are paying special attention to how you measure their contributions. Some students, even if they know the answer, might not want to raise their hand and speak in front of the class, but would feel less intimidated to chime in through their mobile device. Technology can help us reach today’s learners, providing them choice in how they show what they know in a way that is immediate and personalized. What do you think — does technology help you accommodate more learning styles and preferences?