The Kids Are Alright - What Gen Z can tell us about tech and education

Gen Z may be the true digital natives.  Their schools give them tech to take home, they present using Google Slides, and make podcasts for their classes.  And that's just in school.  On their own time, they are building online governments and complex digital stories to entertain their friends.

Join me - and my two kids - as we explore how Gen Z is using tech both in and out of the classroom.  By 8th grade, students in our district have used iPads and Chromebooks for projects in just about every subject.  Office is out but Google Apps and Adobe Suite are in.  Using images and video to explain concepts is just as important as using text.

Kid 1, David, is finishing 8th grade and is off to high school (my alma mater, as it turns out).  He uses tech for anything he can - and honestly spends most of his time on computers.  He's the kid who shows his teachers how to use tech.  He's also the kid who repaired my MacBook Pro 2012 and turned it into a Minecraft server.  He's dyslexic, so he relies a great deal on tech for his learning, but not all of tech earmarked for dyslexic learners works for him.  David will explain the tech he's been using, what helps him learn, what he gets out of learning with tech, and the complexities of building whole societies in Minecraft (also why he dropped an anvil on his sister's head).  

Kid 2, Aurora, is almost done with 5th grade and will be in middle school soon.  Her teachers use tech for most of her work assignments, including math, spelling, and more.  While not as tech-focused as her brother, she's in constant communication with her friends as they use Gotcha Life (I have no idea) and TikTok (I know...) to talk to each other and make up elaborate stories.  She will talk about the social aspects of using tech and what that means for her friend groups.  

So what does this mean for law students?   We'll see students from districts much like them who have been using technology for learning almost since Day 1.  These students integrate images and video into their homework and school projects.  Outside of class, they use the same tech (or whatever else is available) to explore their own interests and ideas.  But not all students we see will have grown up under these same circumstances.  As educators, we'll need to be more aware of the digital divide than ever before, and what that means for our own learners. 




Real name: 
Educational Technology Librarain
Chicago-Kent College of Law Library

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