We read and hear about it more often that we would intend to: the term Generation Z, a description for those born from around the mid-90s to the early 2000s, a group of young people who are now next in line to the Millennials. The previous generation has been described as tech-savvy, but now, young ones from the Gen Z have taken it to a whole new level: they are now digital natives. What this means is that they have spent almost all their growing up years completely surrounded by technology and immersed in digital environments through smart devices, such that up to a certain point, they have become dependent on these for daily life and learning.
In the field of education, the role of technology has become more and more prevalent, and yet not all approaches that blend with it seem to fit the needs of the Generation Z. Engaging these students, whose attention spans have all but dwindled to the speed of a scrolling and a swipe, is a matter as important as providing dynamic and innovative content. One suggestion that frequently opens up is the use of video content to immediately capture their attention and lay out a set of points which they may follow and then try to learn more about. Bite-sized content from video series and mini-lectures often catch their attention and end up getting them more curious about the topics. For them, personalizing everything is key, and at a time of instant communication and the struggle to become independent in just about everything, schools and educators need to understand what lies at the core of the Generation Z, what motivates and stimulates their attitudes towards learning.
With the new generation's reliance on connectivity comes several aspects of learning that would shape the classroom of the future: instant access to information, whether it is facts, data, or discussions at length, has become the cornerstone of their digital experiences. For the Generation Z, it should be instant or it would no longer be as relevant or as useful, given how rapid everything else works in the digital space. Having grown up with a keen sense of multitasking and sifting through vast amounts of online information, Gen Z often decide over things with a click or a tap, often becoming impatient over the slightest delays. What is important, then, is to create value out of these given facts: to sustain learning environments that would encourage Gen Z learners to use information for the benefit of more people, discuss and reflect about it to better understand its implications, and moreover, use it in such a way that it transforms and disrupts through innovative solutions for everyone. This means that schools, as institutions of learning, must support the new generation's thirst for active, flexible, and collaborative learning, one that drives towards the future with a spirit of independence and critical thinking.
At REX, we believe that every young learner must be engaged, as a Whole Child who deserves the best of everything that education brings. This means that aside from adapting to the changing needs of today's generation of young learners, the need to engage them with the real world must also create real, lasting, and meaningful connections that teach them not only to be future-ready citizens, but also to be responsible stewards of the global community. By connecting students through small, active ways of engagement such as cooperative learning and project-based learning, we open and widen their curiosities to a world that thrives outside of the digital worlds that they've grown accustomed to. Campaigns to engage young learners with service learning, internships, apprenticeships, and volunteer projects with civic engagements that help them learn the value of community support and service to others. By immersing and including them through meaningful participation in real-world situations, we raise their awareness of the relevance of their decisions, small or big, in a changing world that needs them in the future. By teaching care and concern not just for others but also for the environment and the world at large, we connect the new generation with everyone, and let them understand their important role in shaping the future today.
While it may be true that the Generation Z's attention span has all but dwindled, it is not too late to catch it. With the help of innovative learning solutions that deepen their engagement and ensure their success, we hope to help every young learner become engaged and responsible digital citizens.