As the first true digital natives in human history, Gen Z lives and breathes in cyberspace.
A recent Barnes & Noble College study has shown that 90% of Gen Z now use apps with interactive live video, including Zoom, Snapchat, and Twitch.
Gen Z’s digital habits have started to affect education.
Traditional textbooks will still provide value, but if the pandemic has shown anything, it is that live video apps and technology will play an increasingly large role in education technology.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Who is Gen Z?
- What technology does Gen Z use?
- How can educators reach Gen Z
- How can Skooli help Gen Z students learn?
1. Who is Gen Z?
Since generational boundaries overlap, there is no single correct definition of “Gen Z.”
Many people, especially those born in the mid-’90s, could be considered both a Millennial and a member of Gen Z.
A rough yearly estimate considers anyone born between the years 1995 and 2010 to be a member of Gen Z.
However, the key defining feature of Gen Z is not when they were born, but what their lives are like.
In particular, “Gen Z” refers to anyone who grew up during the internet age as a “digital native,” so to speak.
They grew up in the post-9/11, internet-saturated world of this century.
Right now, Gen Z makes up the largest class of living human beings by age. They account for 32% of the global population.
This varies from country to country, of course. Aging nations such as Italy and Japan have a lower percentage of Gen Z citizens.
Many Gen Z individuals acquire very strong analytical skills as a result of their upbringing in the internet era. Because they grew up in an information-dense time, they have a lifetime of experience of handling lots and lots of information, almost all of it online.
They expect to use online technology in their day-to-day lives and expect to be challenged by the demands of an information-rich world.
Gen Z is used to flexible, on-demand services like Netflix, social media, Amazon Prime, and Uber.
The thought of having to wait weeks for a package, or to only be able to see a movie when it happens to be playing, is foreign to them.
Gen Z individuals are most comfortable with the new ways of life that have become normal during the last decade.
Gen Z is also comfortable with more decentralized organizations than previous generations. They are familiar with technologies like blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and social media.
Up to 13% of the Gen Z population already runs a business. This suggests a shift away from the tendency of older generations to seek employment in large, centralized organizations.
It is normal for Gen Z to think of themselves as connected nodes in different parts of a vast network. Older generations may have thought of themselves more as key players at the heart of a single organization.
With these considerations in mind, it is important to remember that every individual is unique. Characterizations of Gen Z are always, at best, gestural and general.
Many people born between 1995 and 2010 do not use social media or consume much information online.
Resemblance to the Gen Z stereotypes may vary quite a lot. Economic class and geographical location, in particular, make a big difference.
2. What technology does Gen Z use?
Gen Z is known to use anything digital and online.
They are particularly comfortable with social media and on-demand subscription services. Gen Z technology tends to be fast, online, and decentralized.
Some members of Gen Z may have never used a VHS or CD player, let alone a record player.
There is a stereotype that Gen Z doesn’t know how to send a letter. According to the USPS Inspector General, however, the Postal Service is still relevant to Gen Z.
Car ownership may also be less popular for many members of Gen Z, due to Uber and the rise of urbanization.
When it comes to live video, Gen Z enjoy several popular options:
Of these, Twitch is the only one geared primarily towards live video. It was originally a platform used to stream gaming, and that is still most of its business.
However, most social channels offer some form of live video these days, because it is so popular.
While the oldest members of Gen Z may dimly remember a time before smartphones, the generation as a whole has grown up with the smartphone.
Almost all parts of their day-to-day lives are facilitated by smartphones, and it has been that way for a long time.
Gen Z expects new opportunities, relationships, and information to come by way of the smartphone. The smartphone is to Gen Z technology what the car was to previous generations.
When it comes to education, however, it shouldn’t be assumed that Gen Z only operates online.
The Barnes & Noble study found that Gen Z students did not rate online research as the most helpful method for learning.
Their favorite was class discussions, followed by working through problems and study guides.
Although Gen Z is fully plugged in online, they do so to interact with each other even more.
3. How can educators reach Gen Z?
If you are an educator, you are probably wondering how to reach Gen Z.
You shouldn’t strive too hard to be unnaturally hip and “like the kids.”
Gen Z tends to be rather observant and analytical, and will likely spot phoniness when it occurs. Their memes suggest a penchant for irony.
But educators can and should (and will have to) meet Gen Z where they are: online.
This means, first and foremost, a shift in the medium, but not the message.
A trapezoid is a trapezoid, whether you draw it on a physical chalkboard or on a virtual online classroom whiteboard.
Math tutors can teach online much like they do in person.
Some subjects may change more than others. Library science, for example, is becoming increasingly outdated.
Because the bulk of the world’s information is now online, the organization of physical libraries is less relevant to Gen Z.
Since Gen Z is used to meeting and interacting with people online, cyberspace is one of the best places for educators to engage with new students.
Students looking for tutors are now likely to look online before they even think of a local bulletin board.
In some ways, educating Gen Z may be even easier than previous generations. Gen Z possesses a sincere love of learning and places a high value on higher education.
In the Barnes & Noble Study, 89% of respondents rated a college education as valuable.
In addition, 84% of respondents stated plans to take a college-level class during high school, and 82% plan on going to college immediately after high school.
Unsurprisingly, Gen Z students research colleges online before using any other means.
4. How can Skooli help Gen Z students learn?
Skooli offers a flexible, on-demand virtual classroom experience.
Students can access Skooli from any device with a web browser without having to download any additional apps.
Students can see their tutor with live video and hear high-quality audio.
Skooli even provides a live, virtual whiteboard for tutors and students to draw on. And they can communicate through a messenger chat, just like Facebook messenger or WhatsApp.
Sessions are recorded so students can play them back later.
All of Skooli’s technical features resemble functions that Gen Z students would be accustomed to, such as those included in apps like Facebook, Uber, Twitch, etc.
The online setting provides a lower barrier to entry for meeting people.
Gen Z might be the first generation that meets people online more often than in person. In that case, meeting a tutor online is perfect for Gen Z.
The future of education is online.
As our world grows more decentralized and digitized, online education, like online work, will increasingly become the norm.
Students will expect to engage with educators from anywhere, at any time.
Gen Z and future generations will expect their academic lives to coexist online with their personal lives.
As educators, it is best we meet them there.
The best strategy is to become aware of Gen Z’s online and learning habits.
Education will have to be reimagined to fit the norms of our modern, decentralized, high-technology society.
But Gen Z will likely react positively to any effort to reach them since they already place such a high value on education.
Learn more about how Skooli can help provide your students with instant online tutoring on all subjects, anytime and anywhere.