SAS 70

Aug 16 2019   1:27AM GMT

The Role of Online Learning for Generation Z

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT


Gen Zers have technology in their veins. They were born with a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other. Naturally, their affinity for technology and the web has shaped their preferences for learning. 

What is the role of online learning for Generation Z? 

Gen Z Kids Prefer Online Learning, Not Books

A recent Pearson study found that the majority of Gen Z kids prefer to learn on YouTube and videos than printed books. About 60% of participants aged 14-23 preferred to use YouTube as a learning tool, while 47% preferred to use printed books.

Among all participants, 55% said YouTube contributed to their education.

The purpose of the poll was to look at the differences between Generation Z and Millennials when it comes to education, technology, values and outlooks.

As it turns out, Gen Z has a very “specific brand relationship” with YouTube. When students need answers, they turn to the most familiar and straightforward source: YouTube. The video-sharing website, owned by Google, offers a plethora of tutorials and explainers to help students who are struggling to grasp certain concepts and information.

It’s not surprising that Gen Zers love YouTube. Another study from the Pew Research Center found that 85% of U.S. teens use the video platform. 

The results of the Pearson study highlight a shift in learning preferences from text to visual. Video brings the concepts to life, allowing students to see how things work rather than reading about it in a textbook. 

Gen Z students are comfortable learning online. They’d prefer a flexible online endorsed Masters course over a conventional four-year experience at a college or university.

Shifting Away from Formal Education

Millennials, the generation before Gen Z, amassed a mountain of student loan debt which caused them to question the merits of education. 

Gen Zers, who are privy to the dangers of student loans and the lost value of a college degree, are more interested in exploring other options than formal education.

Active Learners

Despite their preference for online learning, Gen Z students are active learners. They prefer an immersive educational experience, and they welcome challenges. 

Among surveyed students, 51% said they learn best by doing, while 12% said they learned better through listening. They also prefer collaborative learning environments, and they’re happy to learn alongside students outside of the classroom using tools like Skype and online forums.

Gen Z students expect digital tools to be a part of their educational experience. After all, digital technology has been integrated into every other facet of their lives. Education should be no different.

They also expect digital learning tools to be available whenever they need them and with low access barriers. 

The ability to learn and access information at any time has led to a self-reliant and career-driven generation. In fact, 13% of Gen Zers are already entrepreneurs. 

Educational preferences and changes for Gen Zers have been largely driven by the fact that this generation has more access to information than the generations before them. By the time they reach college age, Gen Zers are already well versed in global trends, current events and popular culture. 

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