Sallie’s SpinA series of conversations with Dr.Sallie Reissman, Senior Director of Online Learning and Educational Technology at Wilmington University, a leader in the field of online learning. Since 2000, she has guided Wilmington University as the institution first implemented online course work, leading to fully online courses in 2007 and then the fully online degree programs that Wilmington University offers today. _______________________________________________________________________
Susan Cain’s latest book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, has started a lot of people talking about the differences between introverts and extroverts and how they function in society. We asked Dr. Reissman who she thought would perform better in an online classroom, introverts or extroverts?
She said, “The beauty of online learning is it works for any type of person because of the variety of communication options. The student is in charge of their communication preferences.”
In face to face courses, extroverts can take over the conversation and introverts may not speak up. Introverts may feel shy, or they just prefer to take some time to think and plan their response. Extroverts like to talk through their thought process.
“Online learning allows both types of learners to participate fully,” said Dr. Reissman.
Extroverts can reply to a discussion board by recording themselves with a webcam and uploading their response to Kaltura (WilmU’s video building block within Blackboard). Introverts can write their thoughts down and take their time responding to the instructor. An introvert that has difficulty making eye contact might find an online video response ideal.
With an online classroom, the playing field is leveled to provide equal opportunities.
Giving students equal opportunities to learn is a key component of the set of principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Sandra Bennett is an Instructional Designer for Online Learning at Wilmington University, and the winner of the 2013 Blackboard Catalyst Award – Exemplary Course. Her expertise in UDL has led her to encourage her students to try new methods of expression and action while she provides appropriate supports.
“I have found that in my online courses that it is best practice to offer many opportunities for alternate engagement, representation, and action,” said Bennett. “I have also made small adjustments to course materials and evaluation methods that have created tremendous benefits for my students and myself.”
By recognizing that students – introverted and extroverted - come with many different kinds of knowledge, aptitudes, and needs, UDL breaks down barriers to learning that may have existed in a face to face classroom.