Generation Z: what is the future of classrooms?

Generation Z

Generation Z is the next generation of college students, currently attending secondary school education. An Adobe Education Survey states that the 93% of these students considers technology in the classroom essential to nurture their creativity and prepare them for their future career.

Who are Gen Z (aka Generation Z)?

They are growing up in a society that is completely different from the one today’s adults grew up in, with Internet technology constantly present in their lives since their birth.
They self-identify as loyal, compassionate, open-minded, responsible, and, above all, so much more “creative” and “smart” than their parents’ and teachers’ generations.
They are excited but also nervous about their future, feeling they are not fully prepared for the “real world”.
They are Generation Z (11-17 year olds), also known as Post-Millennials or iGeneration, and technology is their native environment, strongly influencing them in terms of communication – let’s think about social media and the large amount of daily tweets, snaps, posts, shares – and education – have you ever heard about education through cloud-based technologies?

Gen Z students vs. Gen Z educators

At the end of last year, the Adobe Education Survey “GEN Z in the Classrooms: Creating the Future” asked 1000+ U.S. Gen Z students (aged 11-17) and 400+ teachers of Gen Z students to tell how they feel about learning, creativity and the future.
According to the data collected by Adobe Education from 26th September to 6th October 2016, Gen Z students and educators agree:

  • Technology is the defining characteristic of Generation Z
  • Gen Z students learn best by doing/creating
  • Creativity will play a big role in Gen Z’s future success and solving today’s challenges
  • Generation Z is only somewhat prepared for the future
  • They want more of a focus on creativity in the classroom

However, if the Gen Z students think their generation is far more creative than the past ones – always looking for a better way to do something -, the Gen Z teachers think this is not completely true.
Educators also believes Post-Millennials will have jobs that do not exist today, while students seems not to worry about how their online presence will be interpreted by future universities or employers.

The Gen Z classroom: technology, creativity and real world issues

“We need to work harder, study harder to compete with others for few good jobs, everything is technology oriented and dependent now.” Student, Age 15
“We spend too much time preparing students for the ACT and other standardized tests that ultimately will serve them very little in the real world. We also aren’t updating our curriculum to the technological age.” Teacher

As we said at the beginning of this article, the students of Generation Z are not only excited but also nervous about their future, and they don’t feel prepared enough to deal with it.
To help Gen Z students getting ready for their tomorrow, the Gen Z classroom should be organised in order to satisfy the aspects students and educators consider the most relevant to reach an advanced educational system:

  • Having more opportunities for hands-on learning
  • Letting students follow their curiosities
  • Using more technology in the classroom
  • Having more of a focus on creativity in the classroom

Technology has the most important role in Gen Z classrooms, not in order to replace traditional subjects, but to enable new intersections among them, encouraging new ideas and collaborations.
So it is not surprising that 93% of the students interviewed by Adobe are firmly convinced they will be better prepared for the future given how well they understand technology.

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