After watching Susan Cain’s presentation in this TedTalk, I realised that time is one of the main success determinant for introverts for all their endeavours including learning. As an instructor, I have had introverted students in my classroom and these students are often very quiet. These students are quieter than others in the classroom not because they are shy but because they need time to think about the information being thrown their way. In order for them to think clearly, they need time! They also need a quieter environment to process the information.
It is really not their fault that they need the time to process the new information that is thrown their way; it is the way their brains are wired. The pathways in their brain are much longer and more complex compared to extroverts. Longer pathways means it takes more time for them to process the incoming information and for them to build the neuronal connections in their brain. Even though introverts take more time to process information, they examine information carefully in greater detail. Because of this, they gain the advantage of a more thorough understanding of the subject matter. Perhaps because of this longer processing time, statistics show that introverts have higher I.Q. This article points out the many different advantages that introverts have and even classifies them as folks with “high ability” and “gifted”! Wow!
Other than time, space is another important need of introverts. This is because they reenergise in solitude unlike extroverts who build their energy by communicating with other people. The need for space is one reason why introverted students will benefit and even thrive in the online learning environment. In an online environment, they will have the ability to find the time and solitude to process the new learning material. There will be less of a need for them to provide instant responses to discussions like the ordinary classroom.
In the case of online live classroom sessions, introverts will still be participating in solitude and that may provide them with the space that they need for digesting the information being shown or discussed. This is not to say that all online learning settings will work for introverts – live classes that runs for several hours, requiring constant responses may tire out the students. Having said that, I have never known any college education setting where instructors teach live online classes for more than two hours. This interesting article by Jordan Friedman explores the benefits and drawbacks of online learning for introverts.