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The ‘Quiet’ Online Student

6ent-quietThe ‘Quiet’ Online Student

Our focus for last month’s professional development was on the introverted student.  Over the past month, I have been reading a book that I have found to be absolutely phenomenal titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.   Reading this book through the lens of a virtual school staff member was enlightening as I think about the great number of students that seem to “disappear” in online courses.

To begin, let’s watch a TED Talk by the author Susan Cain where she gives an overview of the main points in her book.  As you watch, reflect on the main ideas in the video and what they mean to you and your role as a online educator.

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts


Just for Fun:

For those that are interested, view the following websites.

1.  Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Take this quiz from the Quiet book website.

Are You an Introvert or Extrovert? Quiz

2.  Also, check out some of the world’s most successful and famous introverts.

Forbes: World’s Most Famous Introverts


Virtual schools can provide a great benefit to introverted students, although we may confuse these students with unmotivated students who are not participating.  Read the following post by Dr. Curtis Bonk on the benefits of online learning for introverted students.

Benefits of Online Learning for Quiet Students


In a blog post (Online Learning Insights blog) on this book, Debbie Morrison shares the following thoughts:

“This book does prompt further thought about learning, and online learning specifically. Educators might ponder what learning looks like for introverts in online class environments. What do educators do about quiet students, or those who don’t participate, contribute to discussions or group work?  Some educators perceive non-participatory online students in a negative light—these students are often referred to as lurkers or passive learners. Putting labels aside, the question should be how does one encourage the quiet student to engage at appropriates times?  How can meaningful exchanges be fostered for deeper learning?  I’m not suggesting that students that don’t participate in online forums are all introverts, but rather I suggest we think about ‘quiet’ students in a new light.”

 Feel free to reflect on these questions in the comment section of this post.


While not all students that are quiet in our courses are simply introverts, we can begin to view quiet, introverted students in a more positive light… as positive contributors to our classes, communities, and world.


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