The Future of Education According to Generation Z

Levit, A (2015): The Future of Education According to Generation Z. (Time Magazine)

Online Learning

I agree with the quote from Erica Orange about the inefficacy of MOOCs (Levit, A. 2015, para. 4). They may work for some people, but many others start the classes and then drop out. I believe this is in large part because the costs to both enter and exit these course is low. When students have little money, prestige, or time invested in these courses, it is easy for them to give up on them.

The field of online learning is evolving rapidly, with many different platforms and tools available to educators. My guess is that it will take a few more years for best practices to evolve and disseminate, in large part because educational institutions do not run on Internet time, but tend to change slowly and cautiously.

One big effect of eLearning on my own career is that it is hard to get “bums in seats” for in-person continuing studies courses. Students don’t want to commute to and from school to take a single course– they would rather take the course online.

“The oldest Gen Z-ers have been forced into an industrial model of school, and we are seeing all these attention problems,” Orange says. “Their brains are wired differently and actually function better with input from a variety of sources.”

Levit, A., 2015

This is yet another unsubstantiated claim that brains of one cohort are “wired differently” than the brains of preceding generations. Does this means that the neurons within Gen Z brains are interconnected differently? Where is the proof of this?

Wouldn’t all generations prefer to get information from a variety of sources? Who wants boring sameness? As the article The science is clear: Why multitasking doesn’t work (Kubu, C. and Machado, A., 2017) states in its opening line “for nearly all people, in nearly all situations, multitasking is impossible”.

Vocational Training

Vocational training seems to be an increasing trend, but this is an area that has been sorely neglected, at least in British Columbia where I teach.

Our local technical college infrastructure is woefully inadequate and the most prestigious local tech school seems to be resting on its laurels, quite content to have students waiting for huge amounts of time to get into under-resourced programs.

According to the BC Federation of labour, provincial apprenticeship programs are a bit of a mess:

Problems in our skills training and apprenticeship programs are a distinctly made-in-BC problem. It’s the legacy of 16 years of the BC Liberals mismanaging the system. Training for skilled trades was deregulated. Comprehensive training programs were chopped into modules. Hours of mandatory classroom learning and on-the-job practical work experience for apprentices were cut to the lowest levels in Canada.

BCFED Apprenticeship Training – Failed Experiment, n.d.

I wonder if many of the modules discussed above are eLearning modules? This might be a good subject for further research.

The latter part of Levit’s article discusses various ways for Gen Z-ers to gain employment without completing college, or to attend it primarily “for the social benefits and networking connections”. None of this seems to bode well for eLearning, or the post secondary educational system in general. Since this is mostly speculation, we will need to wait and see if these predictions come true.

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