Colleges will soon be filled with students who have never seen a world without smartphones, known to many as “Generation Z or Gen Z”. Having grown up entirely within the technological age, many of these students have never owned a device that does not also serve as a small handheld computer, performing almost every function of their modern lives.
According to the “Getting to Know Gen Z” study by Barnes and Noble College, these students have a sincere love of learning when allowed to be fully engaged in the classroom, and are more open to the use of academic technology than their millennial counterparts. Gen Z students thrive in classrooms where the learning is hands-on, interactive, and where they can be given more individual attention.
Bringing technology into the college classroom in order to teach these students effectively is now more important than ever.
Reason #1: Participate in Real Time
Teachers play a vital role in helping students learn and study more efficiently and effectively. However, Gen Z students are more likely to thrive when they are fully immersed in the learning process. According to the survey, 51% of these students said they learn best while “doing” vs. only 12% said they learn by listening. Allowing students to participate in real-time quizzes can increase the level of activity in the classroom and allows the students to learn by “doing” as they work through problems. This not only helps students understand the concepts presented in class, but also helps teachers know when they need to reteach an important topic or move on when the students get it the first time.
Reason #2: Engage The Introverts, The Shy
As much as teachers emphasize the importance of asking questions, and often teach their students that “no question is a dumb question”, there are many factors that may stop students from actively participating in class. Introverts are sometimes not willing or able to speak up when they need to, or may simply be too shy in front of their peers. Underprepared students may be self-conscious of their learning gaps and not willing to let everyone in the room know they are not understanding. Using a technology to allow students to anonymously ask questions about the subject not only helps students learn better, but also helps teachers address concerns of all the students in their class, thereby making the classroom 100% inclusive. Instructional tools like Squarecap allows students to submit questions through the site, which are instantly visible to the professor. Students are then able to up vote questions they see other students have asked (anonymously), allowing the professor to target the most needed topics that need to be addressed.
Reason #3: The Language of Technology
Before the age of technology, students often doodled with pen and paper when they were not engaged in their learning. Now that every student has their own device, teachers are competing with much more than paper drawings. Educators can choose to ban the use of technology during class times, but then it becomes a matter of policing instead of teaching. More and more teachers are moving away from traditional teaching practices and are instead speaking to their students using the language of technology, instead of banning it altogether. Having students use their own device to answer quizzes in class, or even discuss in forums or social media allows for a healthy interaction between teachers and students.
Reason #4: Efficient Attendance Tracking
The act of taking attendance naturally encourages students to come class and makes it easier for professors to follow up with struggling students when necessary. Whether keeping track of 30 or 300 students, the use of technology can make the process of taking attendance much more efficient, and allows professors to give Gen Z students more attention than has been previously possible. Professors who have already incorporated technologies like Squarecap into their lectures can eliminate the need for paper sign-in sheets and can quickly and reliably know who is in class and who is not when students log-in to the secure website using their own smartphones or laptops. With this information, teachers can choose to add extra credit for exemplary attendance, deduct points for absenteeism, or simply reach out to students who have not appeared in class.
Reason #5: Student Data = Higher Grades
Professors today will encounter a wide variety of students that will come into their classroom. While some students have the ability to passively sit and retain information, others may need a bit more support if they are to be successful, especially during the first year of college. Using technology to track classroom activity such as attendance, quizzes, and student feedback holds students accountable for their learning, allows teachers to go back and review student data, and provides guidance for any student that is lagging behind. This level of engagement helps students achieve higher grades and complete the course. This also ultimately helps student morale and motivates them to stay in college and graduate on time, a goal that we can all agree is worth the effort of incorporating technology into our classes.