Introvert vs. Extrovert: Online Learning Strategies
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Whether you identify as an introvert or an extrovert, there are strategies you can use to make online learning easier.
The terms "introversion" and "extroversion" were first popularized in the 1920s by psychiatrist Carl Jung. Without diving too deep into personality theory, these traits essentially refer to the way people "recharge" their energy levels. Introverts gain energy from being alone, while extroverts gain energy from being with others.
These personality traits can often lead to different learning styles in the classroom. However, COVID-19 has turned the traditional classroom upside down.
With colleges and universities across the country turning to online education in the face of the pandemic, introverted and extroverted students alike must adapt to the change. We're here to help both introverts and extroverts learn the best ways to study in college.
Before Class: Introvert vs. Extrovert
Introverts can be just as outgoing as their extroverted peers, but at the end of the day, they require internal reflection to recharge. In a college course, this means introverts often appreciate the opportunity to look over class materials on their own time, at their own pace.
Learning Strategies: Introverts tend to thrive in asynchronous classes, where they can view, pause, and rewind course lectures as desired. When taking synchronous courses, introverts should consider looking over presentations and materials ahead of time.
Extroverts feed off of external energy and interaction with others, making synchronous courses an excellent option. However, it can be difficult to connect meaningfully with others in a live class of two dozen or more participants.
Learning Strategies: Extroverts should consider logging into class early to talk with other students in smaller groups. Extroverts can also prepare for class by discussing material in online discussion boards, chat rooms, and over email or text.
Class Participation: Introvert vs. Extrovert
Though not all introverts deal with social anxiety or shyness, they often have a harder time speaking up in a group setting. This difficulty may be even more apparent in a real-time, synchronous course, where a traditional classroom is replaced with disembodied heads on a computer screen, Brady Bunch-style.
Learning Strategies: Luckily, online courses provide multiple avenues for class participation. Introverts can share questions or comments through chat boxes, class discussion forums, and email.
Extroverts love interaction, but competing for attention on a large Zoom call is difficult, even when the professor opens the floor for student discussion. The instant gratification of class participation is limited even further in asynchronous courses.
Learning Strategies: Extroverts tend to have an easier time adapting to a synchronous learning environment than introverts do; it's easier for them to jump into the conversation without fading into the background. When enrolled in asynchronous classes, extroverts can engage by taking advantage of live office hours, review sessions, and small discussion groups.
Working in Groups: Introvert vs. Extrovert
Introverts tend to find working in small groups easier than speaking up in a call with an entire class of students. However, it can still be overwhelming, especially if other group members have strong personalities.
Learning Strategies: Dividing projects into individual, delegated tasks is an excellent way for introverts to balance group participation with their desire to work alone. Introverts might also benefit from doing prep work and brainstorming ahead of group discussions so they feel confident sharing their ideas.
Extroverts are well suited to the collaborative nature of group work. They can serve important roles as group leaders and mediators, helping keep discussions on course.
Learning Strategies: Group work gives extroverts an opportunity to shine, but it's important they don't overshadow other voices in the group. Extroverts should strive to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and motivated to speak up.
How to Make Friends Online: Introvert vs. Extrovert
When students make connections with one another, it can create a powerful support system. Unfortunately, figuring out how to make friends in college can be challenging for introverts, even those who don't attend class virtually.
Strategies: To foster friendships with peers, introverts should trade personal contact information with peers one at a time, inviting them to meet virtually for at-home happy hours or course review sessions. Starting with one peer at a time can be less overwhelming than trying to connect in a group setting. By making personal connections outside of class, introverts can help themselves feel more comfortable speaking up during class time.
Extroverts might have a leg up in the friend-making department, but virtual classrooms pose a unique challenge even for outgoing individuals. When getting together in person isn't an option, it can be harder for extroverts to make a personal connection.
Strategies: Like introverts, extroverts should exchange contact information with other students in their courses and can take advantage of technology platforms to hang out virtually. Texting, group chats, video calls, and even online gaming are all great ways to build social connections.
How to Study in College: Introvert vs. Extrovert
Introverts tend to seek out peace and quiet more than their extroverted peers. This trait can be incredibly helpful when it comes to studying in college, as introverts can more easily focus for long periods of time while sitting at a desk.
Learning Strategies: To maximize potential, introverts should develop a routine, like studying for one hour after dinner every night. Seek out a study space with limited opportunities for distraction, and avoid the temptation to study in bed.
Naturally energetic extroverts can find it difficult to sit still for extended periods of time. Extroverts can also be especially vulnerable to distractions like text messages, Snapchat, or Facebook.
Learning Strategies: Routine is especially important for extroverts. Stick to a schedule and avoid the temptation of social media by putting phones away or blocking distracting websites with a browser extension. To help burn off extra energy while studying, extroverts can use tools like a standing desk or fidget cube.
Virtual learning was a growing trend long before COVID-19 began sweeping the globe, and with some colleges suspending in-person classes for the foreseeable future, an increasing number of students can expect to attend class online.
Extroverts and introverts face different academic and social challenges in the online classroom. It's important to know what category best fits you and how to use your natural inclinations to your advantage. Armed with these tips, students can adapt their different learning styles for successful class participation, studying, and peer interaction in a virtual environment.
It's also helpful to find peers who are the opposite learning style from you and learn from them. Extroverts can help introverts build confidence and speak up in class, while introverts can help extroverts focus during study groups. Peer support can help you succeed both in your online courses and in your career after graduation.
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