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Heard at Eduventures Summit 2018: Learning-By-Doing Key to Educating Gen Z

July 18, 2018

Students in the International Relations program at Duquesne University go on to work in places like government agencies, law firms and multinational corporations. Their instructors understand that they need to experience a variety of real-world situations to practice their problem-resolution skills and crisis management. What better way than through a Model UN simulation? Duquesne takes that one step further by using streaming video.

Using a decision-making simulation game, students break into national teams to test how they respond to certain grave scenarios. They need to resolve the international crisis by making the best possible decisions. Their mock press conferences are live streamed via Mediasite to all the other “countries,” i.e. groups in separate classrooms, and those videos are available on-demand to review and critique. Plus, the videos are complete with background and podium overlays for each country, helping to immerse students into the game.

It doesn’t get any more “real world” in the classroom than that, and nothing creates an adrenaline rush quite like having a homework assignment live streamed to peers.

It’s engaging, “learning-by-doing” opportunities like this that educational researchers and leaders at the recent Eduventures Summit 2018 in Boston described as the model for how schools need to be preparing today’s “digital natives” for work, citizenship and life in a rapidly changing word.

“A liberal education for the 21st century requires replacing traditional curriculum models … with those that provide hands-on experiences for unscripted real-world problems,” Lynn Pasquerella, President, Association of American Colleges & Universities, said at the Summit. “Interpretive learning offered to all students across every major is one of the best approaches to cultivating the perception, intellectual agility and creative thinking necessary for them to thrive in a global, interdependent, innovation-fueled economy.”

Meet Gen Z: The First True Digital Natives to Enroll in College


Who exactly are these students we’re talking about?

Millennials (people born between the early 1980s and mid 2000s) are graduated and employed. Generation Z (people born between the mid 1990s and 2000s) are students, and they’re the first true digital natives, said Kim Reid, Eduventures Principal Analyst. While Millennials expect the use of technology, it’s just innate to Gen Z. They’re ubiquitous users.

These students have already taken online and dual enrollment courses. They’ve done Khan Academy. They’re on their phones 24/7.

What Are We Trying to Prepare Gen Z-ers For?


We’re currently living in the third wave of technology, said Andrew Hanson of Strada Education Network at the Summit. First, machines began doing the heavy lifting for farming and manufacturing, followed by the automation of repetitive tasks by computers. Now, we’re using artificial intelligence to “make smarter and better decisions faster,” he said.

“It’s thrilling to think about a force you don’t understand disrupting the very foundation of your life. But it’s also kind of scary and I think that’s how a lot of us feel,” he said. “We’re bombarded by story after story that our new robot overlords are coming for our jobs.”

In fact, industry experts predict that by 2022, one in five people will work alongside a chat bot. [Wired: AI Plus Human Intelligence is the Future of Work]

So What Does This All Mean for Today’s Students?


Jobs aren’t just going to change, rather the nature of work itself will change, Hanson said, adding that work will become more creative, social and flexible as technology continues to evolve. We have four times as many careers as we did in the 20th century, and half of us are working jobs that didn’t exist in 1980, he said. We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.

Technology, especially streaming video, is making what Beth Bean of Strada Education Network, called “social learning” possible. It allows students and professionals in their communities – or even on the other side of the world – to work together to solve real-world problems.

“The world is getting smaller through technology,” she said.

Take Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. Each year it hosts a mock disaster training day for students, medical staff and first responders. They role play to simulate emergency situations like subway crashes, fires and mass shootings. It lets medical professionals work and problem solve together to better prepare them for real-life situations. Plus, students get hands-on experience that is impossible to have in the classroom. On top of that, the college live streams it to medical professionals and students worldwide!

And University of Toledo Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales helps students find jobs directly after graduation thanks to a program that uses Mediasite video for students to do practice interviews, role-playing, peer critiques and self-assessments. They can share their online video portfolios, including role-playing exercises, elevator pitches and classroom projects, with recruiters who in turn use the materials to evaluate potential job candidates, share company information with students and even ask questions.

What Do Classrooms Need to Look Like to Make Learning-By-Doing A Reality?


How do we give students this hands-on approach so that they’re better prepared to enter the workforce? Just like the examples mentioned above, let technology be at the heart of everything. Don’t reject it because it seems too complicated or daunting to incorporate in a classroom – embrace it.

Think about a traditional lecture hall: Dozens, maybe hundreds, of students are listening to a professor, taking copious notes. They have little interaction with the professor or peers. While this model isn’t a bad one by any means and still works very well in some classes, overall the idea of micro learning (also called flipped learning in which students watch short video lectures before class so that class time can be used for hands-on experimenting and discussions) and active learning (a student-centered, technology-rich way of teaching) are the future. [Webinar: Demystifying Active Learning – One Professors Journey]

Beth Bean of Strada said schools can learn a lot from the Netflix model of learning, which puts the viewer at the center of everything.

The more you use Netflix, the smarter it gets about your individual preferences, she said. It starts making informed suggestions about what you should watch. Think about that in terms of higher education – the future of learning will take into account student preferences like how they want to learn, when they want to learn it and on what device.

Today’s digital native students still crave that traditional developmental college experience, said Reid, the Eduventures Principal Analyst. But schools need to figure out what that looks like in today’s fast-paced world. Technologies like streaming video have an unparalleled ability to deliver information where and when students want it. Make sure that you’re setting your students up for the most success when they enter the real-world.

Read more about Duquesne’s Simulex Program

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