Teaching Generation Z

3 August 2011

I came across the following picture yesterday that made me smile.


Researchers say that if you look at the brains of our generation Z students (the latest group of students to start school) and compare that with a brain of a child from 20 years ago you can see a physical difference.

The part of the brain that is responsible for our visual ability is far more developed in generation Z when compared with other generations (even generation X).  The researchers attribute this change to that fact that Generation Z are born with a mobile device in one hand and a laptop or wii console in the other.

As a result it is believed that Generation Z will prefer visual learning over the other styles of learning (kinaesthetic, auditory).

So what strategies can we use to teach Generation Z?

Firstly we need to understand that Generation Z will be engaged and at the same time bored with technology.  I frequently speak with teachers who are wondering why their students are disengaged; after all they have let them use the computers as part of their lesson.

Technology no longer has the buzz that it used to have.  Several years ago if you sat a student in front of a computer you would get instant engagement.  This is no longer the case.

Technology is just [A] tool not [the] tool.  If your use of technology is not underpinned by sound educational techniques then it will fall short.

Secondly Generation Z will learn more effectively if they are left to solve problems and find solutions.  All of their gaming experience has centred around solving problems so that they can progress to a greater problem.  When a student sees the progress they are making they become addicted to success.  They will continue to work at a level of a game for a long time because they realise that each time they fail they have just learnt one more strategy and at least know what won’t work.

This is such a powerful principle when applied in the classroom!  Especially amongst our younger students.  Unfortunately by the time we get them in high school they have already learnt that they will be given the solution if they just wait long enough.

A great tool for getting your students engaged with technology and problems solving is a Google a day.  Google gives you clues and you need to search for the answer.  I use this from time to time with my classes and they love the challenge!

There are numerous other strategies that are being used and experimented with.  What have you found works best in your classroom?

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