Last year, Philip Bump wrote in The Atlantic that our “always-on” culture is a “Golden Age for introverts.” You are not surprised because it fits with your stereotype of the anti-social introvert locked away in the dark staring at a computer screen and participating in some kind of fake socialization. Add to that your stereotype of the introverted computer geek and you surely agree that it is a Golden Age for introverts.
Bump’s point is that today’s technology gives us the opportunity to create time for ourselves, which is a good thing for introverts in general and in education. As noted in previous posts, introverts like to work alone and like to have the time to contemplate ideas and work them out, instead of always being in conversation and brainstorming.
Time isn’t the only consideration, though, because the technology itself can be attractive to introverts, perhaps because it affords a kind of silent collaboration, whether in communicating or creating content. We might expect our introverted students, then, to perform well using technology in such special projects as research blogs, electronic portfolios, and digital storytelling, for example, but there is also some evidence that introverts have the attention to be able to follow a lecture and may prefer that mode of engagement.
We need to be careful that we don’t assume all introverted students are technology whizzes–they may be avid readers! Wouldn’t that be a terrific trade-off? But they may have the right temperament to work through technology glitches and frustrations, unlike some students who give up at the first sign of trouble, and that might also make them valuable in collaborative projects that use technology where they could be a calming influence.
The biggest concern for faculty is getting everyone to work in all sorts of situations, the ones that come easy and the ones that are a struggle. Knowing each other’s skills and working preferences is not just good to know; it is essential for teacher and student alike. And don’t even get me started on introverted teachers.