Many courses are designed around active participation and collaboration and tend to reward activity and visibility. Although this is, of course, very valuable there should be a balance in the design to ensure that reflection, deep reading, self-study and the development of meta-cognitive awareness are also developed.
Students are, of course, a very diverse group. A lot of students are happy to be active and visible. Others, the more introvert students, prefer a different approach and different needs to contribute to the learning group. When you collaborate with introvert colleagues on rethinking or redesigning your course, it will be more inclusive. Ask a second opinion from introvert students if you are meeting their needs in the course design. They will be happy to help.
Course design must address the following challenges:
- Creating an inclusive and supportive community in your course by giving space to needs of diverse students
- Providing clear pre-course information and guides on how take an active part in the course, learning outcomes and how they will be achieved, teaching and learning methods, assessment methods, support and how progress is monitored. A well-structured, logical, transparent plan with clear links between activities creates a safe context for students.
- Offering a variety of learning paths that allow silent learners to shine by aligning each learning activity with students’ needs.
- Providing alternative access to course material (eg. video with subtitles and text transcript) and alternative methods for collaborative work.
- Collaborate with introvert peers (teachers) when designing a course or rethinking teaching to get a diverse group of instructional designers
- Students have to get used to paying attention to the process of learning when collaboration leads to frustration. When students are able to freely express what they need to participate or collaborate it is easier.
Gilly Salmon’s 5 step method provides an excellent base for designing your course to focus on building a learning community where all learners feel welcome and that each learners can make a valuable contribution to the journey ahead.
Ask everyone what they think their strengths are and build opportunities around them
Methods to ensure everyone is seen and heard.
Exploiting the strengths of silent learners
- Different media
- Diverse learning materials
- Reflective assignments