The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a real explosion in the distance learning industry, will continue to impact education systems around the world even after its end. These are the conclusions reached by American sociologists and education experts last week. At the same time, many experts note that the external impact of the pandemic on the training system coincided with the fact that the new generation Z perceives in a different way both the training system itself and the technologies necessary for it.
The world won’t be the same
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be the first significant global event to affect the lives of the younger generation Z (born 1997-2011). These are the conclusions reached by researchers at the University of Virginia last week. According to sociology professor Teresa Sullivan, the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 had the same impact on the previous generation.
If then the financial crisis led to the loss of jobs for many people, which affected their way of life, now the pandemic has not only caused an increase in unemployment, but also disrupted the usual order of education for the new generation. “The recession has been very bad for working adults, many of whom have lost their jobs,” says Professor Sullivan. “But then the learning process for children was not disrupted, and this is one of the key moments of everyday life. Now everything is different. ”
According to the US Department of Education, in just 16 months, the vast majority of schools have almost completely switched from traditional forms of education to remote and virtual. Even in May 2021, in grades 4-8 in American schools, 24% were still studying completely remotely, 24% were studying in a mixed system, and 52% began to go back to class.
Scientists note that the massive transition to distance learning, caused by an external factor – the COVID-19 pandemic, will have an impact on the psychology of the younger generation.
“Soon we will see a gap in social and emotional communication skills,” said Sarah Rimm-Kaufman, professor of sociology and psychology at the University of Virginia. “.
Flash drive on the neck vs files in a heap
The impact of an external factor, that is, the COVID-19 pandemic, was superimposed on the internal qualitative differences of Generation Z from previous generations – in consumer behavior, worldview, perception of technology, etc. Specialists began to analyze the characteristics of consumer behavior of Generation Z several years ago. Already, researchers are identifying three important points, urging manufacturers to pay attention to them:
- Generation Z perceives consumption more as the ability to access goods or services, rather than as the possession of them.
- consumption for them is an expression of their individual identity.
- consumption must conform to their ethical standards as “seekers of truth”.
As for the perception of technology, experts from Acer note that “Gen Z differs from the previous generation of millennials in that they have been surrounded by technology since birth (which is why they have already been dubbed“ digital natives, ”digital natives.— “B”), while most millennials, although they are friends with technology, at one time they had to study in order to master it. And if for millennials technology can be described as “exciting new opportunities”, then for Gen Z it is no longer new and not impressive – it’s just commonplace. ”
This is why Gen Z doesn’t need to know how a computer works, much like their parents don’t need to know what the pavement is made of or how often tiles need to be moved around town to drive or walk on the sidewalk.
It is not surprising that a situation in which new technologies appear faster than generations change sometimes leads to curious phenomena. For example, when compact USB flash drives first began to appear on the mass market in the 2000s, many users wore them around their necks as a fashion accessory.
In turn, representatives of the older generation, who found the first computers, are now surprised at how some representatives of the Z generation do not know how or do not like to use the file cataloging system. “At some point, I noticed that my students were saving thousands of files on their work computers without any organization,” The Verge quotes Peter Plavchan, professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University (Virginia, USA). If I’m just obsessed with organizing files, then it’s not a problem for them to keep 1000 files in one folder at all. And I think there is a fundamental difference in how we store files and perceive information. ”
However, according to the professor, there is nothing strange and unusual in such differences.
«When I was a student, I’m sure there were professors who said: “Oh my god, I don’t understand how this young man could not know how to solder a chip on the motherboard.” There have always been such generational differences, ”the teacher believes.
New technologies for digital natives
Based on such behavior patterns of Generation Z, including in relation to technology, experts are trying to develop a strategy that would be as effective as possible for educating the younger generation and overcoming the negative factors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And they consider technology to be the key point.
According to a study by a specialized publication University Business, 66% of university professors surveyed are exploring the possibility of using artificial intelligence to analyze student behavior in order to personalize the learning process.
According to measurements, 44% of teachers consider it important to analyze the following data:
- the duration and subject matter of the viewed video content,
- study habits,
- extracurricular activities,
- other factors that will allow you to create a teaching methodology or, for example, training videos, depending on the interests of the students.
“The possibilities offered by technology to personalize learning are endless,” said University Business Editor Kurt Aysele-Dirli. “Our research has shown that college educators see tremendous potential in combining AI and instructional videos to take learning to the next level. It will be very exciting to see how colleges and universities will soon start using such tools in practice. ”
Tech corporations have already noticed this trend. IBM, which created the Watson AI interface, has already begun integrating education-specific tools such as the Watson Element and Watson Enlight into it. They will allow analyzing the collected data about students and the learning process not only for teachers and heads of universities, but also for the students themselves, in order to jointly adjust the program and make changes to the methodology.