Technology has revolutionized the way people communicate, access information, and learn, which is why teaching practices should be remodeled to satisfy the changing educational needs of students. A teacher’s job is to ensure that students are educated and prepared for college and their careers.
However, because traditional teaching methods were designed before technology use became prevalent, they do not prepare students for the world that has been significantly altered by technology. Members of Generation Z think, behave, and learn differently because they grew up in a society replete with technology. Educators should update their teaching methods to address the effects of frequent technology use on Generation Z, such as decreased attention spans, while also preparing students to use technology in the real world.Because technology has caused students to learn more efficaciously through interactive learning, teachers should emphasize this type of learning by using resources such as interactive online lessons rather than have students learn mostly inactively through lectures. Members of Generation Z are predominantly digital natives, meaning that they have had access to technology since birth. Digital natives enjoy managing their lessons by making mistakes and learning from them. In other words, they do not want someone to tell them what to do or what something is. They want to explore it on their own. Students of Generation Z find interactive learning more appealing, so they are more likely to remain engaged in interactive lessons than non-interactive lessons. Therefore, students would learn more if teachers emphasized interactive learning. Since digital natives have had access to interactive media for the majority of their lives, they are used to discovering how to use new technology quickly without any help, which has changed the way they learn. This shows that digital natives are more familiar with interactive and experimental learning than they are with learning that requires copying specific instructions. Traditional teaching methods such as lectures do not teach students of Generation Z in the way that they have grown up learning, which makes understanding material from traditional lessons laborious and inefficient for digital natives. For example, university students have used online resources to learn material instead of attending lectures because they found the online resources more effective (“Rethinking”), proving that students absorb more information through interactive media than they do with traditional lessons. Teachers can make their lessons more participatory by integrating educational computer programs into their lessons, such as interactive online classrooms, and thereby make their lessons more useful by allowing students to learn more.
Furthermore, students of Generation Z find it more challenging to pay attention for long periods of time due to constant technology use, which is why educators should increase cooperative learning in their classrooms to combat lowered attention spans while also preparing them for their futures by promoting social skills they may need for their careers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the majority of youth today own smartphones, which provide them with internet, games, and other forms of entertainment all the time. Because digital natives regularly have access to entertaining content, they are not accustomed to focusing in situations they find uneventful. Generation Z’s lowered attention spans are also shown in their “task switching” habits; they enjoy being constantly engaged in an activity or alternating between activities, proving that they have difficulty focusing on one action at a time. This becomes an issue in classrooms and in the workplace because students may find their lessons or work monotonous, which would lead them to search for distractions or entertainment although focusing in such situations is essential to becoming a productive student or worker. A solution to this is cooperative learning, which occurs when each student in a group is given a job to meet an educational goal. This gives every student something to do at all times, which helps engage students in lessons and prevents them from searching for distractions. Cooperative learning is also proven to enhance student education. This will help students succeed in college and at work because they will have acquired more knowledge. In addition, cooperative learning assists students with developing social skills that are necessary for becoming successful workers. Members of Generation Z spend more time in physical isolation than previous generations. The conveniences of technology, such as texting, allow digital natives to communicate with others without using social skills such as speaking. Therefore, digital natives have fewer opportunities to practice these skills, unlike previous generations. This could lead to conflicts at work that may impede Generation Z’s success because employers who are digital immigrants, those who were born without technology, may have difficulty communicating with digital natives who have not fully developed their communication skills. Teachers who add cooperative learning to their lessons teach students to develop their social skills in an academic and professional manner so that they may utilize them at work and improve their chances of success.Educators can prepare students for college and their careers by integrating technology into their lesson plans to teach students how to use technology properly and wisely. Digital natives often use technology for informal purposes such as social media or texting, which causes their writing abilities to crumble because they are not required to use grammatically correct language on these programs. Using technology in school would teach students to write academically online. This would help students succeed because they could use these skills for writing their resumes or college assignments, which some professors are including in their university lessons. Teachers should also advise their students not to share inappropriate content, such as offensive or revealing photos, on the internet because they could decrease one’s chances of being hired by an employer or accepted by a university. According to the Pew Research Center, sharing improper information on the internet is increasing, especially among youth. Digital natives also sometimes engage in inappropriate behavior on their devices while at work, meaning they could risk losing their jobs. If teachers incorporate technology into their lesson plans, they can educate students on technology use for intellectual purposes so that they will be more prepared to use technology in college and at work. Another reason to increase technology use in schools is to improve technological literacy in students. Employers want to hire people who can use technology well. If students learn how to use technology properly while in school, they will be more likely to prosper in the real world because they will have more career opportunities.Although some educators may argue that traditional teaching methods should continue to be employed to prepare students for their futures, modifying the education system to meet the new generation’s needs would be a better way to prepare them. Many teachers are concerned that students will not be prepared for college or work if the education system is altered because students may be taught or employed by digital immigrants who use archaic teaching or working methods. Although negative attributes caused by technology may lead to issues in these situations, it is not something that can be changed by force. Students will learn more if the education system is adjusted to educate students based on how their brains work. Members of Generation Z were raised with electronics, so their brains have grown to interact with the world in a similar manner to how they interact with technology (“Rethinking”). Their brains are different from the brains of previous generations, but it is not their faults. Technology has become an important aspect of almost every part of life, including entertainment, business, organization, and communication; people are too dependent on technology to avoid using it. Technology’s significance means that members of Generation Z must use it more often, which perpetuates the effects of technology on Generation Z’s brains. Therefore, it cannot be reversed. If the education system continues to emphasize traditional methods, students will not learn well and they will not be provided with a high-quality education. There is a possibility that digital natives may face conflict when employed or taught by traditional digital immigrants, but there are resources available to help them succeed. University students have access to online resources if they are struggling with their classes, and students have even earned A’s in classes where they have never attended the lectures (“Rethinking”). This proves that students do not need to be trained to listen to lectures in college because they can still flourish academically by using educational resources that suit their needs. Students need to understand the fundamentals of their academics while they are in school before they can do well in college. Therefore, teachers should adapt their lesson plans to ensure that students are learning the basics before they pursue higher-level education. Some educators also insist that early teaching methods should remain because they have been used successfully for years. However, technology is reconstructing the way our world works, with one example being that communication is no longer dependent on meeting people in person. Companies are also using technology more often, which confirms that the use of technology is growing. Children should be prepared for the future rather than the past. Thus, education systems that upgrade their teaching methods by using technology better prepare students to use technology in the real world.
Because technology has changed the way students’ brains and the world works, educators should alter their lesson plans to confront these changes. Teachers should use technology at school to teach students how to use it properly and take advantage of the resources it provides. Updating the way educators teach by using interactive and cooperative learning will inform and prepare students more effectively than former teaching practices.
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- Technology, Generation Z, and the Future of Education - July 6, 2017
Also published on Medium.