When I mention that I work in online learning, I often hear a response like, “Oh yes, online, that must be great for introverted learners.” And I always feel a little surprised. I’d never thought that online courses were better for introverts. Do you know why?
Because I am extroverted and I love online learning!
Here are some reasons why extroverts may prefer online courses:
- You don’t have to wait your turn. That’s right, you can wax verbose and post lengthy responses to your classmates anytime! If you have something to say, you can say it. And you can say it without anyone telling you to sit down. (Now there are those tricky instructors who might limit the post count or word count, but most don’t.)
- You can have one-on one conversations with LOTS of people. You can read a multitude of posts and contribute to many conversations on varying topics. In the physical classroom, you are limited by the constraints of time and even your placement in the room. The person you may have wanted to share ideas with could be on the opposite side of the room; when learning online, that person becomes easily accessible anytime.
- You can be MANY PLACES at once. This is an extroverts dream! Extroverts are prone to try and create as many connections to others as possible — through different social media, group projects, discussion boards, etc. Online options give them the opportunity to virtually “be” in more places at once.
Personality theory states that extroverts are energized by the external world (i.e. talking with people) and introverts are energized by their own internal worlds (i.e. privately reflecting on their thoughts).
Introvert: Think, Think, Think, Do, Think
Extrovert: Do, Do, Do, Think, Do
Isn’t an online course about both things – doing and thinking? Aren’t we both talking to people through various technologies AND reflecting on our thoughts?
So, I never assume an introverted personality type has led someone to sign up for an online course. I typically think it’s the people who want to have more control over their learning experiences. The ones who are hoping to be more strategic in their class participation. The ones who are looking to thoughtfully connect with folks who are interested in the same things they are.
What about the more introverted types? Do they prefer online courses as well? They also enjoy these commonly cited benefits of online learning:
- More time to process your thoughts. You don’t have to come up with a snappy answer in front of the class. You can write and revise (or record and revise) as you see fit.
- Less “small talk.” Conversation is centered on topics on interest.
- You participate when you’re ready. You determine when you work on your online course. You are not tied to a specific schedule.
I also consider myself an introvert at times and like learning online for these reasons as well. It’s nice to be able to sit back and reflect on a topic of interest for a period of time. That’s why I enjoy writing these blog posts.
I don’t think we can say a certain personality type has a stronger preference for online learning. The introverted vs. extroverted distinction is only so helpful anyway because people often switch between these modes of behavior, depending on the situation.
What do you think? Do you think someone’s personality determines his or her preference for online learning?
It could be a factor. But no matter how you look at it, both extroverts and introverts will see some advantages to learning online.