'Phigital' students demand new approaches from educators
- Though the first group of Generation Z students — born between 1995-2012 — will graduate college this year, many are still in school and educators are not moving fast enough to recognize and accommodate their needs, according to Ed Tech Update.
- Generation Z is the first “phigital” generation, in which a student does not make a distinction between the physical world and the digital one. It is the first generation that has grown up entirely with the widespread accessibility of WiFi, meaning they are always connected.
- The authors advise that educators emphasize individualism in approach, allowing students as much educational personalization as possible. Gen Z students are also heavily invested in social causes and real-world applications of what they learn, which many schools are incorporating into lesson plans.
Colleges and universities are rushing to keep pace with Generation Z’s affinity for and comfort with digital tools. Campuses from Yale University to the Savannah College of Art and Design are offering VR tours for students who cannot physically attend, while other campuses are working to make campus cards a thing of the past by utilizing students’ smartphones and mobile apps. It seems likely that these innovations and advancements will continue as the “phigital” generation continues to graduate from college for the next 15 years.
However, higher educational institutions should take note that students who are as accustomed to navigating a digital world as comfortably as the physical one may be less inclined to see the benefits of a physical college campus; if Gen Z students do not make a differentiation between the physical and digital, they may not make a differentiation between an online classroom and an actual one. This could be a challenge to colleges and universities who are already battling the impact of digital classrooms on their bottom line. Such campuses often use the beauty of their campus and the collaboration it engenders as a selling point, but that may be of little use for students who feel they can get the same results online.