The ABC of Generation Z: Educating the Future

In recent weeks, several articles have caught our eye regarding the impending ascension of "Generation Z"; the demographic of our population born after Millennials that are starting to come of age. These texts bring to light the crucial and divergent idiosyncrasies of this generation, a group of people who grew up in the digital age not knowing what life was like before the Internet and mobile technology. With these environmental factors being so markedly different from those of any other generation before, the following question arises: how can - and should - the status quo be adapted to accommodate the next generation? This question is no less pertinent when it comes to education...

 Image:  Sh!ft, Disruptive Learning

Image: Sh!ft, Disruptive Learning

As a generation perpetually connected and innately digital, the analogue style of teaching practiced by many teachers and professors may be out of touch. In a post on his blog (Learning with 'E's) titled Generation Next, education consultant and lecturer Steve Wheeler notes: "It makes sense to help students to engage more deeply in their university studies using the technology with which they are familiar. Lecturers who ignore the potential of personal technology and rely solely on traditional methods will miss an important lever for engagement." His point is echoed in a Guardian article, Generation Z is starting university - but is higher education ready? , where the incoming classes are described as "industrious, collaborative and entrepreneurial learners". In light of their uniqueness, the article calls for an increase in collaborative processes and an emphasis on co-creation in order to assimilate Gen Zers into the current world of higher education. The Huffington Post have also dedicated column inches to the topic, with their blog post Start Prepping Now - Generation Z is En Route also offering suggestions on to how best to incorporate this group of individuals, but this time into the workforce. One such suggestion is to replace traditional corporate hierarchies with more linear structures; so that instead of having managers and departments, employees work together on team-based projects. Again, an emphasis on collaboration and connectivity.

While the specific impacts of Generation Z's inclusion in higher education and the workforce remain to be seen, we can be certain that the shakeup will be seismic. This is not to be feared, but embraced. The UK's shortage of tech-savvy and STEM-centric students and workers, for example, will no doubt be buoyed by Gen Zs coming of age. What are your thoughts on the notion?