Generation Z is the new breed of learners who has taken their first breath in the era of globalization, web-based world, limitless information, communication wonders, and technology blast. All of these in a single generation and probably more developments to come! They are the ones whom we coined as the digital natives, generation-i, generation c (connected) or the most popular term generation-z.
It is both exciting and scary for us educators to face them. Exciting, because of so many possibilities that the future have in store for them. Scary, because most, if not all teachers are not fully equipped to hone the great potential that this generation holds. We are awestruck of what they can do and what they can share to the rest of the world. In their journal, Sladek and Grabinger (2014) said that “when members of Gen Z are properly engaged and their skills are utilized, they can prove to be exceptionally powerful.” However, they should be handled with the utmost care, otherwise, they may use these power against the common good.
#What world conditions did they born into?
A generation shaped by technology, Gen Z is faced with the lack of situational awareness and the inability to give or follow directions in normal circumstances. If Gen Y was a perfectly connected generation, Gen Z suffers from the problem of being ‘over-connected’ because of the overuse of technology. According to Sparks and Honey, the members of Gen Z have only an 8-second attention span and 11% of them have been diagnosed with Attention Deficiency Syndrome. They prefer to communicate through symbols and pictures rather than through words. As the children of Gen Z were born during the economic recession and financial crisis, they tend to challenge the job market of Gen X and Gen Y. Most of them desire to be entrepreneurs and prefer to change their hobby into a business. This great entrepreneurial spirit is born out of a desire to change the world and to save it from future recessions. As technology has made things easier, the present generation is likely to get obese due to their sedentary lifestyle. ( YelanaThomas, et al, 2016, Emerging Shifts in Learning Paradigms-From Millenials to the Digital Natives)
A study produced by Advertising Agency, Sparks and Honey, found that 60% of Gen Zers want jobs that had a social impact, compared with 31% of Gen Ys. It deemed them “entrepreneurial” (72% want to start their own business), community-oriented (26% already volunteer) and prudent ( 56% said they were savers, not spenders ) Gen Z is also seen to be more tolerant than Gen Y of racial, sexual and generational diversity, and less likely to subscribe to traditional gender roles. (Anne Kingston, 2014, Macleans).
GenZ are not after all hopeless. They have more to offer than what we perceived them to be. All they need are proper guidance from adults around them and they will rock the world like no other generations did.
How Does the GenZ Brains Differ?
Information technology is woven throughout the life of Generation Zers. Technology is just as common as breathing to them. What’s going on in the brain of Gen Zers? Individuals raised with the computer deal with information differently compared to previous cohorts: “they develop hypertext minds, they leap around.” A linear thought process is much less common than bricolage, or the ability to or piece information together from multiple sources. Among other differences are their…
- ABILITY TO READ VISUAL IMAGES -they are an intuitive visual communicator
- VISUAL SPATIAL SKILLS –perhaps because of their expertise in games, they can integrate the virtual and physical.
- INDUCTIVE DISCOVERY –they learn better through discovery than by being told
- ATTENTION DEPLOYMENT –they can shift their attention rapidly from one task to another and may choose not to pay attention to things that don’t interest them.
- FAST RESPONSE TIME –they can respond quickly and expect rapid responses in return. (Diana Oblinger and James L. Oblinger, Editors, 2005, Educating the Net Generation)
Technology has given Gen Zers unique learning habits. According to study made by Sarah Sladek and Alyx Grabinger ( Gen Z ) Gen Z is not the uneducated, detached generation some authors and professors claim they are; instead, it is a generation full of realists. Gen Z is incredibly practical and their learning habits reflect that.
- THEY DON’T MEMORIZE –GenZ has a world of information at their fingertips; they can simply Google anything they need to know.
- THEY MULTI-TASK –research by Forrester Research found that 84% of GenZers multitask with an internet-connected device while watching TV. They can multi task across 5 screens
- THEY LEARN VISUALLY –constant stimulation in the form of video games, You Tube videos and television created a generation of visual learners.
- THEY DON’T VERIFY INFORMATION– due to the generation’s tendency to move quickly when online and finding information, they often forget to verify the credibility of what they read or report. (source: (Zarah Sladek, et al, 2014 XYZ University)
More results from various researches are as follows:
- THEY DON’T WANT TO BE TRACKED -GenZers are drawn to incognito media
- THEIR ATTENTION SPAN ARE GETTING SHORTER – GenZers are the ultimate consumer of snack media. They communicate in bite sizes. Research studies say that their brains have evolved to process such information at faster speeds, and are cognitively more nimble to handle bigger mental challenges. But, getting and keeping their attention is challenging.
- THEY ARE LESS ACTIVE –This generation is much less active than the previous generation. In some cases, sport is viewed as a tool for health instead, play and gaming may have replaced outdoor activities
- THEY COMMUNICATE WITH SYMBOLS –GenZers speak in emoticons and emojis. Symbols and glyphs provide contexts and create subtexts so they can have private conversations. Emoji alphabets and icon “stickers” replace text and pictures
- THEY LIVE STREAM AND CO-CREATE –GenZers gravitate to live streaming media. Two-way live streaming and video conference (facetime and skype) are their preferred ways to communicate. ( Dr Vickie S. Cook, Director of the Center for Online Learning, Research & Service,2015. Engaging Generation Z Students )
Some consider members of Generation Z to be smarter, more self -directed, and more able to quickly process information than previous generations, but there is one thing, they may not be team players. And that just might be the best reason to pay attention to new research about cooperative learning. Even though Generation Zers are notoriously social, they prefer texting to talking. (Igel, et al.Generation Z Meet Cooperative Learning )