How Generation Z Learns
They don’t know a world without the Internet. Their hand feels empty without a smartphone in it. Super Nintendo is an ancient gaming system to them. Who are they? Generation Z.
Born between 1995 and 2009, Generation Z is the most tech-savvy generation yet. Almost half of them spend more than ten hours online daily. They’ll spend 30,000 hours gaming by age 20. Fifty percent of them will send at least 50 text messages a day.
What does this mean for the way they learn and engage with education? They demand something different than traditional lecture-and-test classrooms.
Naturally, they want technology to be a bigger part of their education. In fact, “43% of teens prefer a digital approach to learning and find it easiest to learn from the Internet.”
Video games have actually shaped the way they approach learning. When gaming, kids have to overcome one problem in order to move onto another. They receive instant feedback on their progress, have clear goals, and are rewarded for their success. This is what they look for in their education.
The use of computer-based games and activities can greatly engage this generation. Some say that their brains are actually wired differently because of the time they spend on mobile apps and video games. They are driven by graphics and being visually stimulated. They therefore enjoy information presented in a fun and engaging way.
Technology has taught them to be super multi-taskers. They can simultaneously eat lunch, watch TV, text their friend about the weekend, and update Facebook. But this also means that Gen Zers tend to have shorter attention spans. Teachers should keep in mind that these students need to be constantly engaged with stimulating teaching techniques and tasks.
Generation Zers are socially inclined, to say the least and this can be used as an effective teaching tool. Teachers can plan projects that allow them to collaborate online, using tools such as blogging, digital media, and podcasting. This can even allow them the opportunity to communicate with students from around the world.
This is a generation that is more socially conscious than their predecessors. They’ve been bombarded with a world of problems since they can remember. They know that they’re the next group of people to step up and try to fix things. As a result, they’re more engaged in the world and want to make a difference. They’re quick to jump in and help on social media when a friend asks for support of a cause. As a result, they tend to be more interested in careers that will help society. For teachers, this could mean incorporating current issues into their curriculum.
Generation X is more inclined to homeschool their kids, and Generation Z welcomes that with open arms. Online schooling is a great way to give Gen Zers what they want out of their education—technology, flexibility, and self-learning. Some say that this will impact their future and decision about going to college: “Because of their propensity toward self-learning and their ability to quickly synthesize information, they may find it a wiser investment of time and money to skip college altogether,” Heather Sanders says.
If you have a Generation Z student in your home you might want to consider supplementing their lessons with technology when appropriate. For math support, LearnBop is a great choice for Generation Z learners. A highly adaptive online math program for grades 4–12, LearnBop simulates one-to-one learning by providing immediate individualized instruction to the child’s needs. With step-by-step guidance from award-winning experts built into every problem, LearnBop adapts in real time to student interactions and breaks down larger math problems into smaller, more manageable steps so they can develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Schools have been using LearnBop for several years with great success, and now this personalized program will be available to students outside of the classroom. View the website for more details.
Before Generation Z, there are the Millennials, or Generation Y, who also have their own unique styles of learning. Learn more about them here.
*This post was updated March 25, 2016
Lauren Martin is a Writer for Learning Liftoff. Previously, she has written for nonprofits as well as marketing agencies. She's covered environmental issues, women's rights, world poverty, and animal rights. With a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Ithaca College, Lauren enjoys interviewing families about their experiences with online education.