When advocating the usefulness of e-learning, a lot of arguments are brought to the table. It is a lot more flexible than classroom training, it is engaging, cost-effective and is not confined by geographical boundaries. Furthermore, the advancing technology allows designers to draw up courses in a way that is appealing to all learner types.
Not much is said, however, about the benefits e-learning has for the introvert section of the employees. This is probably because not much is spoken about introverts in the workplace in general. This is a shame because as studies show, they make up two thirds of the active professionals in the US.
Although it seems today’s corporate world is tailored to the very verbal and vivacious extroverts, the creativity, thoughtfulness and independence of the introverts are important in driving organizations forward. Giving them the opportunity to learn in a way that accommodates their personality will only be beneficial to all involved.
Introverts enjoy autonomy
One of the best things about e-learning is that it allows those enrolled to complete the program when they have the time and disposition for it. Furthermore, it is a task that can be performed individually and that’s how introverts feel most at ease.
Learning becomes a lot easier and more efficient when the learner is in their comfort zone.
One of the most effective ways to get introverts engaged in online training is to let them have control over the exploration and discovery of the subject matter. Self-guided e-learning activities allow them to move forward at their own pace and fully take in all the important elements before advancing. They can choose the online units and activities that best suit their needs and learning preferences instead of having to interact and gain knowledge by means of classroom training.
For this type of learners it is good if instructional designers can include scenarios, serious games, and simulations that display memorable storylines and characters. It is important to keep in mind that introverts like autonomy and structure but don’t dwell in the realm of boring things. By making e-learning engaging and fun, they will gradually build their levels of interaction and social comfort.
Collaboration exercises should not be off the table but should come in later in the program, once a certain level of personal comfort is established.
E-learning allows for precious reflection time
Introverted corporate learners need some quiet time to think about what they’ve learned and reflect on how they can optimally apply it in their daily work lives.
Classroom training barely allows for coffee and lunch breaks. It usually all has to be over in a day or two and very often participants who have come from farther away need to leave early. That, combined with the fact that having a bunch of participants in the room will lead to (what introverts see as) unnecessary and pointless discussions can really cramp introverts’ learning groove.
With e-learning, designers can easily incorporate useful breaks after each activity to allow learners to reflect on, absorb and assimilate all the useful information in an effective manner.
It’s also essential to give them some time after group online training activities so that they don’t get overwhelmed and are still able to enjoy the learning experience. They don’t necessarily need to be just dead time, these breaks could be filled with summarizing exercises, quizzes or trivia.
Online discussions are a healthy way to stretch boundaries
As mentioned before, allowing introverts to be in their comfort zone while learning has great results.
But there is a case to be made for pushing boundaries, and that’s the case of all learners, regardless of their personality type. Creating a discussion forum or social media page where all corporate learners can meet online to share their thoughts and opinions is a good way to get everybody talking.
A moderator is good to have, as extroverts may tend to take over the discussion. Somebody encouraging opinions from all the members will make them less stressed and more likely to participate.
Validating their input is also a good way to make them feel valued and increase their engagement. It’s essential, however, that participants have full control over the level of their involvement. It could be a while before they start pitching in the conversation but once they do everybody will find that what they have to say was well weighed before and most likely very valuable.
E-learning is a good way to build on team communication skills
It’s clear that introverts make very valuable employees. Their personality type has many advantages in the corporate workplace. The fact that once they come up with an idea it has been very well thought of proves to be both time and resources efficient.
The thing is that they should feel confident enough to speak up.
Introverts become more confident when they feel like they have the skills to deal with social situations. With e-learning it’s easy to focus on communication, teamwork, and other soft skills that help them interact better in their teams.
Just like with other skills, it’s best to give them time to discover and assimilate the information, include compelling scenarios and videos to demonstrate effective social behaviors.
Regardless of the skill or competency to be acquired, online courses are the best way to go for all types and personalities. It’s easy to design units that are fun, engaging and work for all involved.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.