Not unlike most of the industries in operation, the education sector has gone through fundamental changes over the last few years. Some of the traditional methods of teaching are no longer applicable, and some of them are holding their ground as key fundamentals in learning. Similarly, the students that are passing through classrooms are different to the generations that came before them. Specifically, the students in the current and upcoming young generations are more acclimated to a world where technology is not only frequently used, but an almost certain reliance inside and outside the classroom. While the fundamentals have changed, one thing has not: for most young people, they are consistently reminded throughout their lives of the importance of going to university or college. Education is a privilege, not a certainty, and so if given the opportunity, a student should actively engage and seek out higher education as they go through primary and then high school. The newest generations are more than acclimated to technology in every facet of their lives. The upcoming generations of students are not the ones that will have to evolve – it is the educational institutions that must evolve to adapt to the continuously tech-driven societal norms that Generations Z and Alpha have been born into.
Higher education is not immune to the shifts in the education industry. In fact, on average, by the time Generation Y entered university and college, it was already apparent that a technological shift was beginning to take place. Where students used to have pens, paper, and several bulky textbooks to cart around each day on campus, it is now all compact and carried (for most students) within a single electronic device, whether it be a laptop or a tablet. Students can type their notes as opposed to writing them down, allowing them to get more information down. And if they happen to miss some of the information, they no longer must ask fellow students to help them by lending them their notes so they can copy in the blanks. Lectures are now recorded, making it easier than ever for students to go back to what they missed and key in the missing information. In a strange paradox, education technology has even positively impacted the environment. Even five years ago, students had to print out every assessment, reading, and worksheet, and possibly go out of their way (sometimes on a day they are not even required on campus…taking immense effort on some students’ parts) to get to campus to hand in the assessment in person. Now, students submit work by simply clicking the ‘Submit’ button on their online student portal.
Education technology has changed the game, but with the tech-efficient Generation Z students coming through the doors being well-versed (and perhaps even more fluent) in the digital scopes of their campuses, universities and colleges have a lot of catching up to do. In a system like education that has been around for so long, change is not impossible but instead quite often slower than one would prefer. Students that are a part of Generation Z are finding the traditional methods of learning to be underwhelming and sluggish in comparison to the tech that they interact with in every aspect of their lives. Gen Z has grown up surrounded by technology, and they expect it to be present and flawless in every aspect, every concept, of their being. And it gets more pressing. Where Generation Z is entering in the university and college doors currently, Generation Alpha is set to be even more of a revolutionary turntable. Where Gen Z is surrounded by technological advancement, by the time that Generation Alpha walks through school doors, they will know how to use elements of tech as well as they can use their own two legs – probably better, in complete honesty. Gen Z is surrounded by technology, but Generation Alpha will likely be literally immersed in it, and they will expect the educational institutions that they pay money and spend time in to be the same – or they will simply stop going.
There has been a continuous influx of new investment, companies, and opportunities that have propelled education technology onward and upward, with the education industry grasping desperately to keep up. The traditional methods of learning and teaching have been, for the most part, revolutionised in the wake of the tech era. According to Parry Sohi, Director at Scholars Education Centre, “There’s been a push towards STEM tutoring, including robotics and coding, where students can code, engineer, design, experiment and exercise logical thinking, all of which are necessary for solving real-world problems.”
Tech is also having an impact on where students learn. The traditional one-on-one tutor has been revolutionised from being in-person contact to moving online and giving students and tutors more flexibility in their schedules to meet and learn. Textbooks are now virtual copies, allowing students to carry around more information without the extra baggage – literally. Even the concept of learning itself has been changed in the face of education technology. Traditional classrooms required students to show up at scheduled times, every day without fail, or risk missing out on information. However, in the modern educational experience, university and college students are giving the choice of learning the traditional way in the classroom, or via distance education from their electronic devices. As the latter allows students more flexibility and
Education technology has made leaps and bounds since its introduction to the education sector. But while there are investments and companies revolutionising the education field, the industry itself is faced with the reality that they are not necessarily ready for the students of the upcoming generations. While private school scholarships as offered by Haileybury, colleges, and universities have put the wheels in motion to implement aspects of education technology into the classroom and subsequent learning tools, they are very much behind. In order to remain viable educational environments, campuses must embrace and utilise the education technology that is being developed and implemented, before it is too late, and Generation Alpha renders universities and colleges to be no longer feasible sources for education.