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Monday, January 21, 2019

Online Collaboration Opens the World for Introverts

I am currently facilitating a teacher professional development class on Office 365.  The thrust of the professional development isn't so much how to actually use Office 365, but how and why to integrate these tools in instruction.

A participant recently analyzed a lesson plan on Virtual Field trips.  She commented that Skype for Business would enhance the lesson by allowing students in small groups to communicate with different classrooms in different countries throughout the world.  She stated her belief that this type of activity would engage the child in the back of the room.  Her goal is to make "everyone feel needed and allow all children to collaborate."

That, of course, made me think about the children in the back of the room and the pop culture interest in the Meyers-Briggs personality profiles.  I was that kid, if not in the back of the room, that seldom engaged.  I am an INTJ or an INFJ, depending on what day I take the assessment.  (Actually, in one assessment where I saw a map of my answers, I found I was near the middle in most categories except for being strongly introvert.)  Here is my response to her post, from the prospective of an introvert who may have never contributed in an academic setting were it not for online learning.

It's interesting that you mentioned the kid in the back of the class.  I felt more connected to the instructor and other class members during my distance education masters program than I did in any of my face-to-face undergrad classes at WVU.  I had a hard time speaking up.  I think basically it was the competition for attention.  I was never inclined to compete.
My masters program from the University of South Carolina was delivered via satellite and telephone connection. One-way video and two-way audio connected my class at the public library to the instructor at USC.  We communicated outside of class via email.  Three to five people attended the classes in Morgantown with me, although there were many other sites throughout the state.  
It was very easy for me to communicate and collaborate in this setting.  Maybe it was the visual anonymity, or perhaps it was the collegial nature of the small group that encouraged me to participate.  All I can say for sure is that the experience sold me on distance education.  Those were the pioneer days; look what it's become now.  It's as common as washing your hands.
I hope you are able to incorporate as many of these experiences as possible.  The introverts in your room will love you even more."
While Meyers-Briggs itself may be a passing fad, I believe the benefits on small groups and online learning for introverts are very real.  We all can shine on a small stage, but all these stages combine to create learning of global significance.