Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Does "Generation Z" Mean for Education?

Generation Z is commonly defined as "people born between the mid 1990's and 2010." They are the first true internet generation and are also referred to as "Digital Natives."

How will this generation affect the way that we approach education? Are we willing to make changes?

I received a couple of interesting links from June Weis at SREB. The first is an article entitled, Kids Labeled Generation X Before They Grow Up, (UK Guardian 6/10/10) and the second link takes you to an easy-to-read, graphic-punctuated study published in June 2010 by Grail Research.

Here are some important points from the Grail Research:
Generation Z is ...
  • Well networked, more "virtually" present and more tolerant of diversity
  • Comfortable with and even dependent on technology
  • Materially satisfied, yet financially conservative
  • Well educated, informed, and environmentally conscious
  • More connected with their parents than previous generations
Marketing implications: Companies targeting Generation Z will want to...
  • Look to enhance their virtual world presence
  • Adopt technology-based marketing and sales channels (i.e. text messages, mobile internet, online networking, etc)
  • Focus on developing high value-for-money and "green" products and services
  • Aim to "catch them young."
I've often thought of education from more of a business point of view and we don't always market to or meet the needs of our customers...the students. We are often restrained by costs and policies that restrict the use of technology. Can we truly "afford" to continue with the same policies and technologies or will we "lose" even more students? We must adopt new technologies into our schools and lesson plans at a much faster pace as the following shows:
Years until radio reached 50 million users: 38 years
Years until TV reached 50 million users: 13 years
Years until the web reached 50 million users: 4 years
Years until iPod reached 50 million users: 3 years
Years until Facebook reached 50 million users: 2 years
Years until iPhone reached 1 million users: 3 days
"New technologies continue to emerge faster than ever and "innovation leaps" are becoming smaller, leading to a stronger "connection" between newer generations."
We can no longer wait. There are obvious risks associated with the use of technology, but there are also risks associated with NOT using technology. Generation Z spends more time online and has a preference for interactive media. Their social networks will influence their decisions and education MUST have a presence in their networks.

I would contend that education is at an extremely critical point in reaching our students. Marketing is a key to attracting our students (and their parents) on what we have to offer, but we must follow through by incorporating new technologies into our instruction. We can't afford to lag behind as we must do a better job of preparing our students for industry.

I hope you will take the time to read both of the articles and let us know your thoughts. J.T.
Grail Research
Kids Labeled Generation X Before They Grow Up (appears in the UK Guardian 6/10/10)

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