We often discuss how a 21st century education system should work, but rarely discuss the quality and expertise of lecturers needed to face the challenges of teaching Gen Z, namely those born between 1997 and 2012 .
As students, Gen Z has characteristics that often challenge lecturers’ old ways of teaching . Especially related to the techniques or skills that lecturers need to have so that the knowledge conveyed is absorbed optimally.
What are these characteristics?
1. Social and active learner
Generation Z tends to feel comfortable in learning environments that focus on social interaction . They prefer learning situations that involve collaboration and communication with friends. In other words, Gen Z is suited to the project based learning model , namely a learning approach that focuses on using projects or practice as the main way to teach and understand subject matter.
In this method, students are given assignments to complete real projects that require problem solving, exploration and creativity in groups. These projects often reflect real-world situations and require practical application of the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom.
Indeed, according to Marcela Hernández de Menéndez, a researcher from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education , Mexico , Gen Z is a generation that tends to be more relaxed and flexible in the learning environment. However, they actually really hope for validation from the lecturers who teach that what they learn will really be useful in their future careers .
Therefore, lecturers need to have sensitivity and expertise to make lecture material more meaningful in the eyes of Gen Z. For example, by using terms that are close to them or using concrete examples that they have actually experienced.
When explaining ethical concepts related to the importance of maintaining privacy, for example, a lecturer can start by taking the case of SSSniperWolf , another name for game and reaction content creator on YouTube, Alia Shelesh, who committed doxing or the act of disclosing someone’s personal data and sharing it in public spaces without approval of YouTuber JacksFilms .
Another characteristic of Gen Z is that they are learners who enjoy using and exploring various resources. This refers to research which says that Gen Z students tend to refuse to be passive students. They are not satisfied with just attending class, listening to lectures, and taking notes to memorize for exams.
Instead, they want to be truly involved in learning and feel part of the process with varied and technology-based learning tools.
2. Technology literate
Gen Z also likes learning environments that are collaborative and not limited to face-to-face interactions. They feel comfortable studying with other students, even if they are not classmates, using digital applications such as Zoom and online forums .
Therefore, lecturers need to utilize visual presentations, both static ones such as pictures and graphs, and dynamic ones such as films and videos. This is more effective than long lectures, because Gen Z students tend to have a short focus.
Apart from that, according to research conducted by Karianne Gomez, a researcher from Deloitte, United States , as a digital generation, Gen Z expects these digital learning tools to be well integrated in their education.
For them, technology has always been an integral part of everyday life, and they feel education should be no different. They believe that academic experiences should be able to be connected to personal experiences through the same technological tools.
They also hope that these learning tools will be available at any time with easy access. They feel that learning does not only occur in the classroom, but can be done anywhere and at any time.
So, lecturers need to provide guidance on how to use technology effectively in learning, while helping students identify which information can be trusted and differentiate it from hoaxes.
Apart from that, lecturers also need to understand that Gen Z students’ closeness to technology means they have many distractions, so lecturers must focus on only the latest and relevant information. Learning should be done briefly and continued with various creative activities that arouse Gen Z’s interest.
3. Independent and career oriented
Unlimited access to new information has created a more independent and career-focused generation. In fact, most of Gen Z already have their own business. One of them is Isabella Rose Taylor , a young designer who at the age of 13 has launched her own clothing brand and showcased it at New York Fashion Week .
The change in paradigm from what was previously linear: school, graduate, work, then start a career, has now evolved to become very random – unpredictable direction and process. This is due, in part, to their wider access to information than previous generations.
So when a GenZ enters college, they are used to and even require themselves to always be relevant to things that are trending .
They also have a good understanding of the world around them and begin to reflect on their role in it , of course with the aim that what they try does not end in vain and is beneficial for their lives in the future .
Research conducted by Carmen Sonia Duse, professor from the “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu , Romania, in 2016 , emphasized that lecturers need to consider these characteristics so that learning can run optimally.
If not, Hendi Pratama, a social media activist and lecturer from Semarang State University, said that without relevant skills , lecturers who teach Gen Z students could receive negative responses from students, such as being ignored or even considered incompetent.
Author Bio: Yogie Pranowo is an Adjunct Associate Lecturer at Multimedia Nusantara University