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- The oldest members of Generation Z, born in the late 1990s, are changing the way colleges teach their students.
- An Ohio State professor quoted in The New York Times uses Twitter, Slack, and Zoom for tasks like taking attendance and holding office hours.
- The changes reflect Generation Z’s digital upbringing.
Generation Z is the most tech-savvy cohort in history.
Defined as those born after 1997, Generation Z is growing up in a world where smartphones, social media, and content-streaming are ubiquitous.
And now that the oldest Gen Zers are attending college, they’re rewriting the playbook for higher education.
One professor revealed to The New York Times the extent she incorporates technology into her class. Nicole Kraft, a journalism professor at Ohio State University, told reporter Laura Pappano that she takes attendance for her class via Twitter, posts coursework on the instant-messaging app Slack, and holds office hours on the video-conferencing app Zoom at 10 p.m., “because that is when they have questions.”
Kraft told the Times she doesn’t even use email in her class, except to teach her students how to write a “proper” one, because “that is a skill they need to have.”
Kraft’s methods aren’t the only changes at Ohio State. According to The Times, Ohio State issued 11,000 iPads to incoming students this year and designated 42 courses as “iPad required.” And the school is designing an app that students will use to plan and schedule their courses, check their grades, and even campus maps and bus routes all in one.
The changes reflect how Generation Z is diverging from the millennial generation. A full 95% of American teenagers today have access to a smartphone, and 45% of teens said they’re online “almost constantly,” according to a Pew Research Center survey. Teenagers today spend an average of two and a half hours a day on their phones, according to psychologist Jean Twenge.
As Generation Z continues to come of age, it seems clear that colleges are going to have to adapt to their students’ changing behaviors.