Hi everyone. I read Susan Cain's book when it came out. While I agree with Judith Warner that Cain can be too broad and rah-rah, I ultimately find Quiet an extremely important and valuable corrective to the primacy of "extroversion" in the U.S. (As someone who grew up in the Philippines, I do believe there's a powerful cultural component than Cain often downplays, but that's a conversation for another day). In any case, I'm a "strong introvert" according to her quiz; I answered "yes" to 19 out of 20. To wit, I prefer small social gatherings, don't particularly enjoy going out, need A LOT of daily "alone time," etc. I love having my own office because I get to close the door. And while I find much satisfaction from teaching, I'm usually drained rather than energized by the end of the class period.
Given all of this, I find Web 2.0 tools a potentially liberating resource for the large number of students who are introverts. Cain's book helped me understand why I've never been a fan of group work, either as a student or as a teacher. The "best practices" in pedagogy today seems be permeated by an extrovert ideal. This is reflected in our faculty observation forms, which have an item about "ability to stimulate students to interact." It's as if "interaction" (which is largely defined as face-to-face conversation) is considered good, valuable, or productive in and of itself, regardless of context, classroom and interpersonal dynamics, subject matter, etc. And while some introverted students can "fake it" well enough to participate in group work (like I did even through grad school), I'd bet that for many of them, the anxiety and effort undermines genuine reflection or learning. In Web 2.0, I see a way to enable more participation from a wide variety of students. Even just last semester, I noticed how many of the most thoughtful written comments came from students who rarely (if ever) spoke up in class discussion. Any class would be impoverished by the absence of these voices. Any tool that opens up the floor to these students is worth exploring.