- Gen Z students have been shaped by access to technology as well as sociopolitical events
- They want accessible remote learning and transparent communication
- The right educational communication tools enable a better learning experience for Gen Z students
Gen Zers are the cohort born between 1997 and 2012. The oldest members of Gen Z are either in university or are about to enter it. Gen Z bears some similarities to Millennials, the previous cohort, yet there are some significant differences.
What do educators need to know about Gen Z students and their habits? This article explains how educators can reach Gen Z students when they’re learning from home or in the classroom.
Gen Z: a primer
Gen Zers are more likely to pursue higher education than previous generations—among 18 to 21 year-olds who had finished high school, 57 percent of them were in a two or four-year degree program in 2018. In contrast, 52 percent of that same age group were in college in 2003, while 43 percent of that age group was in a degree program in 1987.
Parents of Gen Zers are more likely to be educated, too. By 2018, 44 percent of parents of Gen Zers had some kind of degree (in contrast with statistics from 2005, when 35 percent of parents of Millennials had a degree).
Gen Zers have also grown up with technology. By 2018, 95 percent of 13-17 year-olds had access to a smartphone. They feel comfortable texting and communicating via video message.
The atmosphere in which they live has had an impact on Gen Zers. They had been set to inherit a strong economy with low unemployment…until 2020 rolled around. Older Gen Zers lost their jobs, and many reported someone in their household had either lost a job or took a pay cut as a result of the global health crisis.
Members of Gen Z also tend to care strongly about social justice and lean politically left. They believe government should play a role in solving society’s problems, more so than previous generations.
Gen Z in the classroom
What should educators keep in mind when Gen Z students walk into their classrooms (either in person or virtually)?
Researchers say that Gen Zers see themselves as loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, open-minded, and responsible. However, these same researchers noted that Gen Zers prefer to work alone and sometimes lack creativity. Furthermore, educators can’t discount Gen Z’s digital experiences and preferences. At the same time, these students are used to typing with their thumbs because of their smartphones, so you might need to set aside time to teach them how to use certain platforms.
How can educators best reach Gen Z students?
Educators must keep the information above in mind when creating strategies to teach Gen Z students. Additionally, they must develop lesson plans that accommodate a potential hybrid learning environment—not everyone will learn in person.
There are a number of steps educators can take to ensure Gen Z students have a fulfilling educational experience whether they’re in a classroom or learning virtually:
- Use the right technology
- Enable accessible remote learning
- Keep students safe while learning digitally
- Make communication transparent
Use the right technology
Today, a positive learning experience rests largely on the choice of the right education communication tools. Education communication tools enable remote learning (synchronous or asynchronous), and they have flexible communication options so students, faculty, staff, and administration can communicate; they can share information over the phone, through text message, and through video conference.
Education communication tools also feature digital collaboration capabilities including screen and file sharing, so it’s easy to share information.
Enable accessible remote learning
An August 2020 survey revealed 11 percent of Gen Z students didn’t feel confident about their access to reliable internet and technology. While Gen Z has been defined by its use of smartphones and other mobile devices, educators must remember that not all students in this cohort have the technical capability to learn synchronously.
It’s crucial that educators offer asynchronous options for students with unreliable access to devices and connectivity. School communication tools offer asynchronous or synchronous learning; instructors can record themselves teaching a lesson and broadcast it live for students. They can also post the recording later in the learning management system. Market-leading education communication tools integrate with LMS for maximum ease and convenience.
This integration is important because an LMS is the backbone of the digital learning experience. It’s where instructors upload syllabi, assignments, and resources for the course. In addition, students can hold discussions in the forum. With an integration, students and instructors save time and effort because they don’t need to navigate to a separate site.
Keep students safe while learning digitally
Gen Z students may have grown up with a device in their hand, though that doesn’t mean they’re savvy about digital security. In one survey, only two percent of Gen Z students were at the highest level of computer and information literacy (meaning that they can work independently with technology to gather and manage information with precision and good judgment).
That means that not only do they not have a keen grasp on what makes information reliable, they also don’t necessarily know what steps to take to keep themselves safe online. School communication tools with high levels of built-in security give educators peace of mind that their students aren’t at risk.
Make communication transparent
Gen Z students expect to have access to multiple communication channels all the time. They’ve become accustomed to their peers sharing a great deal of information with them, and they assume communication will be transparent.
A school communication platform built on a unified communications platform gives students several options to communicate: telephony, chat, and video conference. These channels make it easy for instructors, administrators, and students to share information freely.
Create a better learning experience with RingCentral’s unified communications platform
RingCentral’s unified communications platform helps you reach Gen Z students through flexible communications options, synchronous and asynchronous learning capabilities, and integration with LMS. To learn more, get a demo.
Originally published Oct 05, 2021, updated Sep 29, 2021