I am excited to announce that I was selected to be the Keynote Speaker at the upcoming UBTech Conference in Orlando, Fla. This is the higher education’s premier conference on technology with over 200 educational sessions and my keynote will all be about building a better classroom to serve Generation-Z. Generation-Z are now Juniors in college and they are the first generation to be true “digital-natives” and they love to collaborate via video. They see FaceTime as good-enough, they iMessage and text more than they talk and they don’t like chairs with desks built into them. They want their environments to be active-learning classrooms. Remember, they are the first generation to ALWAYS have a SmartBoard in their elementary, middle school and high school classrooms. They want collaborative interactivity. And, they don’t need perfection.
They grew up always having a smartphone — far from perfection. But, the efficiency trade-off of having an iPhone is well-worth them being beta-testers. They figured out how to use SnapChat without any instructions, they created the need for an app called TikTok (don’t know what that is? Shame on you, it has twice the number of SnapChat users) and they aren’t obsessed with privacy — they love to share their lives! Oh, and they’re the first generation to have all taken an online class and like it more than in-person classes.
This will drive a redesign of every college classroom. The concept of lecture-based designs for classrooms is stupid to them. A room, like my active-learning, completely mobile and wireless classroom at UNC is, in the word of one of my best student’s this semester, “lit.” So, we need to adapt to a people-centered approach to design.
We’ve always focused on technology and products — now we need to focus on people. And, those people aren’t like you or me. They are mobile-first, digital-natives that multi-task better than any generation before.