Five Tips To Keep Gen-Z Hooked Throughout a Classroom Lecture
Over the years, smartphones, tablets and laptops have taken the blame for reduced attention span among students. While this could be factually true, it could also be an iteration of the Elvis Hypothesis – if it’s popular with the younger generation, it is bad for them. Many have attempted studies to establish a connection between decreased attention spans and technology. A few support the notion that technology is responsible for our constant distraction, while a few refute this and call it a mere myth. Whether or not we attribute it to technology, the truth is that on an average, our attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds.
While this attention span works for marketers who can churn out ‘snackible’ content for its audience, how does a teacher make the most of such a situation? An average class could go on for anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours. How, then, would a teacher keep the audience’s attention on her/him? Teachers have the mammoth task of educating Gen Z, a generation that is known for its multitasking and ‘Google’-reliance for everything from directions to major life decisions.
If your audience is online, you need to be there too.
With digitisation picking up nationwide and the support of super fast internet, classrooms are moving towards integrating technology with conventional teaching. Digital formats like videos, interactive sessions, e-learning, etc., are picking up in cities. In fact, rural India, too, is going digital when it comes to education. The Digital Literacy Mission is set to digitise 60 million rural households by 2019, which will impact the education sector as well.
Schools have also started recognising learning disabilities, attention disorders, social and behavioral disorders, and offering support in terms of learning as well as counselling. Teachers are adopting newer tools to make learning a better experience for their students.
Given that Gen Z was practically raised online, a digital approach is your best aid in keeping them hooked. And here are five ways to use technology to reach out to them.
Ditch traditional for digital
Move the ancient blackboard aside to make room for a projector. Ditch textbooks and written notes for ebooks and presentations. Upgrade your “techware” and experiment with digital formats to make your lessons more engaging. Switch to videos for a more thorough explanation. Videos are so popular today that over 8 billion videos or 100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook every day (TechCrunch, 2016) and More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube every day (Business Insider, 2016). Videos break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand explanations in an engaging format that grabs the viewer’s attention. Many schools are also on board with virtual reality to provide a more interesting and contemporary way of teaching.
Turn to YouTube for educational channels like TED-Ed, VSauce, SciShow, etc., which feature researched content in a fun, simple, informative manner. Apart from this, you can also partner with professionals who offer e-learning hardware and software support to enhance your students’ learning experience.
Homework and research 2.0
New and improved teaching methods go hand-in-hand with new-age homework assignments and the related research. Instead of sticking to textbooks and notes, give your students research assignments where they get to watch educational videos, especially about topics like organic chemistry, biology, physics, etc. Videos are easier to understand and there are multiple “related” videos to any topic that will help with better comprehension of the subject. This also gives your students the option to watch it as many times as they want and learn at their own pace. Ask them to read about certain terms and concepts before you teach them in the classrooms, so they already have a visual reference if you cannot play them a video. Let them create presentations as homework; this will help them develop their presentation skills and perform much better in colleges and their eventual workplaces.
Assigning digital homework is another way to keep the GenZ hooked. Encourage them to include citations in their essays to ensure proper research.
Gratify the “NOW” generation with instant feedback.
You’re teaching a generation that is used to instant gratification thanks to evolved technology. They are used to faster feedback on their display pictures or the poem they wrote or the sketch they made. While it is not comparable, it just helps if you are faster at giving feedback. Without proper feedback, it is not possible for children to simply know what they need to work on. Personalised feedback sessions are the most recommended, if possible.
Break lessons up in smaller segments.
Breaking a lesson into smaller segments will increase your chances of getting their attention. You’re talking to the Snapchat generation; you’ll have to keep it short, crisp and on point. Companies, too, are cutting their meetings short and allowing more ‘online’ time for employees in a bid to keep their attention on the right track.
Breaking bigger lessons into smaller segments complements the span of attention and thus helps your students understand the topic better.
Be relevant to your students.
This does not just mean adopting “their” language. It means that you, as a teacher, must keep yourself updated on the internet, technology and all things trending. This means you probably have just as much to learn as they do. Subscribe to YouTube channels for relevant video content or enroll yourself for the SWAYAM program. SWAYAM or Study Webs of Active –Learning for Young Aspiring Minds programme by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, offers online courses by faculties of institutes like IITs and IIMs.
Newer generations have always been challenging to teach, be it millennials or Gen Z. Every generation comes with its own set of values as well as their own setbacks. However, just like every other generation, GenZ also deserves a shot at good education and you’ve now got the tools to make it happen. Integrate technology in your lessons so that your classes become something that students look forward to and not run away from.