Edtech: Giving introverted students a louder voice

Dave Saltmarsh

Dave Saltmarsh is a former classroom teacher turned IT and library director in Arizona and Maine. In addition to managing all facets of information technology, he has led implementations in 1:1 computers for students, as well as iPad & iPod touch programmes, and has focused on personalised learning, Over the last three years, he has traveled globally and gained a worldwide perspective on the use of technology in schools and business. Dave has a Master's degree in Instructional Technology and has earned CoSN's certified educational technology leader distinction.

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Presenting in front of a large audience can be a nerve-racking experience at the best of times. For young school students it can be a harrowing experience. Introverted learners, who prefer to quietly think and assess a situation, can feel incredibly uncomfortable being heard in class. This presents challenges for students and teachers alike as great ideas and input can go missing. It is therefore vitally important for teachers to find ways to help these students contribute in class.

With half of all students being introverted, teachers will be tasked with finding a quick and easy solution to be successful to provide fair treatment to all.

One way is through technology. Children as young as three are already familiar with consumer-friendly smart devices such Apple’s iPhone and iPad, well known for having clear, easy-to-use interfaces. According to research by USwitch, by the time a child reaches the age of eight, they have a one in four chances of actually owning their own tablet. In fact, such is the growth of tablets like the Apple iPad that the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) predicts that, by 2016, 37% of all computers in schools will be tablets. Teachers can use this familiarity with technology to enable all students, and in particular introverted students to communicate in a way that works for them.

Be heard without speaking

As the iPad becomes more prevalent in classrooms, opportunities to use educational online discussion forums also become more accessible. These platforms can provide students with a certain level of comfort that allows them to participate without fear under a managed secured environment. Once a child is comfortable online and can see their ideas are appreciated, it has the potential to enable them to be more active during lessons and classroom discussions. Providing introverted learners with a platform to leverage as a means to communicate can also then benefit the wider classroom. Collaborative projects and group work need a high degree of interaction and this is where technology can be used to convey ideas and images to present in group discussions.

"Once a child can see their ideas are appreciated, it can enable them to be more active during lessons."

For some students, raising a hand to answer a question can also be extremely daunting. There are technology solutions like AirPlay, a feature that is best known for streaming videos from an iPhone to an Apple TV that can help teachers to project a student’s work by teaming it with an education-centric app. This immediate and spontaneous sharing of learning and creation can help shy students get over their fear by letting their creative work do the talking. With the right app, sharing a student’s iPad can be done with only a few taps from the teacher’s own iPad device.

The future for students

The use of technology combined with video apps can unlock the potential of even the most introverted students, and will be the key to unlocking fair education to all. Through technology, children will be able to build confidence with not only their own work, but group participation that can encourage more peer to peer learning and self-sufficiency.

Technology can support a teacher’s transition from traditional teaching methods and should be viewed as an enabler and provider of new skills that go beyond the classroom. Having worked in education for over 20 years, I know the challenges and difficulties in getting introverted students to put their hand up and the rewards that can be delivered when it does finally happen. Having an iPad and the right software platform in schools 20 years ago would have been a huge benefit. Now that technology is making it possible, teachers and students alike should not be afraid to use it.

Do you enable introverts with edtech? Let us know below.

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