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Decoding the New Gen Learners for a Better Online Classroom

Decoding the New Gen Learners for a Better Online Classroom

Yet another year of pandemic; another year where students would continue to learn, grow and develop through the online lens.

How an online classroom could transform the new generation learners to experience the better version of their own by instilling the ability to learn, unlearn and re-learn.

Richard Sweeney identifies that a person with the above-mentioned characteristics as, "They are a huge generation of impatient, experiential learners, digital natives, multitasked mindset, and they (new learners) are the one who love the flat networked world and expect nomadic connectivity, 24x7". A few distinct characteristics of the learners emerged across colleges, researches, and countries making them the most common ones.

Demanding educational consumers

In a book named “Generation Me”, author Jean Twenge describes that the generation is the first generation to be fully raised in the aftermath of the technological revolution in which information would be readily available to them in one click. This environment has driven them to be demanding educational consumers with no tolerance for delay. Besides, the rising number of online learning platforms, videos, MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) has democratized the learning process and the demand to make learning fun has increased.

For the current online learners, there is not much difference between the information he/she sees on YouTube videos and the information gathered in a classroom. He/She will listen to both at a same level of distraction and interest/boredom playoff. In fact, he/she would become restless because he cannot pause, or run through the classroom lecture like they do with video.

High expectations, little effort

The new generation of learners are indeed unique; unrealistically they would have high expectation on success with smart level of effort. This observation has seen many versions from many researchers. Dr Christy Price, Professor of Psychology at Dalton State College in her research observes a clear gap in their efforts before a test and their expectations of success in it. This attitude makes it important for educators to set goals and expectations and even guide them achieve it.

Digital Learners and illiterates

The above heading could be confusing not just in the language but also in meaning. Surprisingly that is the current paradox of the new generation learners. While the new generation learners are immersed in social media and all things digital for their everyday life and learning, they may not fully understand how to harness this technology to benefit their learning. A fifteen year old student could be comfortable by interacting with a machine and say “Alexa, tell me a joke” but would find it difficult to submit a research report using the best online tools. So, Gen Z may be aware of technology and may even use it regularly, but they need to understand which tools could be used to manage and analyse the information, and enhance their learning. Digital competency is a paradox in the life of a new generation learner.

Collaborative Learners

The emerging generation is mainly focused on team-oriented concept. Being exposed to the networked media at an early age, they constantly look for the like, share, feedback process.

They work better in teams than individually; it would be more comfortable to generate brainstorming ideas with their fellow team members. This also makes them uncomfortable working independently while in an online classroom, which might lead to faster distraction. In classroom setting up a better engagement is seen when they work together and as a new generation learner they are against the ‘lecturer’ method of teaching.

Learn better with structure and clarity

As a sheltered generation with protective parenting, the emerging generation learns well in a structured environment. They are not used to and therefore may not accept autocratic decisions but function well with clearly defined goals and constant feedback. This makes them to participate and learn better with games, online quizzes etc.

A greater need

Today’s learners face an uncertain present and a rapidly changing future that would demand far different skills and knowledge than which were needed in the 20th century. Our collective future depends on how well young people prepare for the challenges and opportunities of 21st-century life.

About the Author

Dr Latha Vijaybaskar catalyzes positive transformations. As founder and Leadership Coach of V.I.T.A.L Conversations, she works with teams and individuals to enhance productive engagement and positive leadership. Her latest book Masterstrokes – Reinventing Leadership in Uncertain Times can be ordered on Amazon.