Each new generation places a stronger importance on attending college, and Gen Z’s love of learning exemplifies this trend completely. According to a survey from Barnes and Noble, 89 percent of Gen Zers rate college as valuable. After watching their Millennial older siblings and relatives struggle to find work in their fields, Gen Z is prepared to study and work hard for professional success. How can brands assist Gen Z in their thirst for knowledge?
It all goes back to technology. As the first generation of mobile natives, this young cohort integrates technology into everything they do — especially learning. Over 80 percent of respondents from Barnes and Noble’s study believe smartboards, digital textbooks, online videos and websites with study materials are beneficial to their learning. Gen Zers desire accessible, affordable and portable digital learning tools. In fact, they expect educational technology to be incorporated into their schooling, as it is with all other aspects of their lives.
This easy access to information has shortened their attention spans, but it has also turned them into curious experimenters, ready to research and explore whatever topic comes of interest. Educators must leverage this short attention span by switching frequently between teaching, collaborative projects and assignments rather than utilizing passive learning methods like lectures and textbooks. This doesn’t mean all traditional methods must be abandoned, but supplementing them with newer technology can make a huge difference in students’ learning experiences. After all, half of students say they learn best by doing compared to the 12 percent that thrive by listening.
With all of these tools available to them instantaneously, college students are moving toward more interactive learning methods that allow them to participate and see firsthand what they’re learning. Brands can play a part in this education evolution by providing participatory educational tools such as gaming, simulations and Virtual Reality experiences.
“The brains of Generation Z have become wired to sophisticated, complex visual imagery,” said Darla Rothman, PhD. “As a result, the part of the brain responsible for visual ability is far more developed, making visual forms of learning more effective. Interactive games, collaborative projects, advance organizers, challenges and anything that they can try and see are appreciated.”
For example, Planet Oit! is an interactive, multiplayer computer game used to teach physical geology in high schools and colleges. With more than 50 virtual locations and hundreds of minerals, the game requires students to identify the correct equipment, use it to test outcrop and rock samples and report findings back to Earth. Planet Oit! allows players to explore the various game worlds and earn points, appealing to Gen Z’s competitive and curious natures.
Educational technology could end up being essential to Generation Z’s success in their college experiences. As high school Gen Zers graduate and move on to higher education, technology brands and marketers must remember the benefits of these experiential technologies so as to make these tools readily available to universities and their faculty for not only their own success, but the success of the next generation.