Millennials, Digital Natives, Net Generation, Digital Learners, GenZ – however you may call them, the new-age learner is evolving.
Students today have access to almost everything through technology. They’re not the “same students” educators are used to teaching. Students have evolved with their environments, and how they perceive education and learning has been redefined.
“Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” – Marc Prensky.
Here are a few traits of new-age learners that will help educators understand them better and alter their teaching strategies to accommodate their new-age learning needs.
New-age learners have a lot on their plate. They’re constantly thinking about multiple things. With changing times, they have to learn more things than conventional learners did. You’ll find them engaged in numerous things, with a few more to be done at any given point. This can be a challenge for some. And the correct way to address this is to engage the learner in their education plan so they stay focused. This can be done through compelling questions, rich learning material, various teaching strategies and skills like storytelling, and anything that connects the learner with their learning material.
With social media in play, collaboration is at the centre of learning. With pedagogies like community-based learning and group learning, students are bound to become social learners. Since students are guided to collaborate and learn with others right from the initial years of education, social learning becomes their second nature. With technology, students can collaborate and learn with their peers or like-minded people, irrespective of their location.
Another notable element is the pervasive use of social media. Young students like to network and get in touch with like-minded people with common interests from social media platforms. Educators can consider collaborating with experts and getting guest educators or students group from other institutions to add the social and collaboration element. To cater to the new-age learners, having a social element to the teaching approach can work wonders.
Curious for constant knowledge
The new-age learners are constantly consuming information. Whether through their education programs or their smart devices, if GenZ has access to the internet, all the information is accessible to them. If they want to learn more about a topic, they look over the internet and learn until they feel satiated. Providing students with supplemental learning resources is a great way to help them satiate their thirst for knowledge. Educators can provide the resources and conduct short discussions and quizzes on varied topics to keep them engaged and interested. Consider sharing varied forms of resources like videos, texts, podcasts, audio, and so.
The new-age learner loves mobility and flexibility. Technology has enabled learners to learn anytime and anywhere, which is what students today are looking for. Recorded lessons, tutorials and on-demand tutoring are a few elements of online education that help students. As educators, you can ensure that you provide this mobility and learning flexibility by sharing recorded lectures and concept tutorials. However, you can set a time for the doubt sessions where students must be present or share their queries beforehand for you to address them. You can record these sessions and share them with students to help them out.
New-age learners like to take charge of their learning. They thrive in social environments and are independent. They want to take responsibility for their learning and aren’t afraid to carve out their learning paths. They’ll push their limits to achieve their goals. If they cannot meet their learning goals in a particular environment, they’re all up to make the change and seek the support of any kind they need. They prioritise learning experiences that give them ownership of the process, such as deciding when to finish a particular module. This is one of the key reasons why new-age learners gravitate toward multimedia-based online courses, while others may prefer interactive scenarios.
New-age learners do not emphasise the mode of instruction. Instead, they want to engage in the learning experience. They look for quality learning where they learn beyond what’s there in books, interact with people on the same topic and gain knowledge beyond the restrictive means of a conventional classroom setting. Smartphones, laptops, online courses, multimedia material, and anything that provides flexibility are their go-to preferences.
We live in a fast world, and learners today are occupied managing work, education, family, and everything together. This fast-paced life leaves no room for the patience to sit for lengthy learning programs, especially when the same can be done shortly and crisply. Bite-sized learning, MOOCs, and micro-learning have made it possible for students to learn quickly. Multimedia-rich learning content allows students to learn quickly without compromising on the quality of learning. While they live a fast-paced life, juggling through so many things, it’s fair to say they are impatient. They are used to getting access to information quickly, just a few clicks away. As educators, you need to hold their attention span and provide them with quick, bite-sized learning material that is easily accessible, engaging and meets their learning needs.
The final key trait of the new age learner is that they are technical. This new generation of learners is born with a digital DNA, they have never seen a world without technology, so it comes naturally to them. They are well-versed in the use of technology and can find solutions for almost everything through technology. As educators, it is prime that students feel familiar with your take on technology, making it essential for students and educators to be on the same page when using technology. Whether on social media, using web tools for educational needs or being aware of technology in general, educators and students must be aligned and share a common interest in technology.
Also Read: What the Future Of Learning Looks Like
These are a few common traits of the new-age learner. The old conventional teaching strategies will not help educate students in the 21st century. Understanding today’s learners and what they need is the stepping stone to ensuring their learning needs are met.