We have a problem. The pace of technological change and rate of information flow is increasing and attention spans are shrinking. Almost half of recent college graduates are underemployed or employed in jobs that don’t require a degree. Employers struggle to find new graduates who have what it takes to thrive. A poll of hiring managers asking “Are students ready for today’s dynamic workplace” revealed that seven in ten employers say no.
What do our students need?
Students and employers want creative problem solving, current communication skills, and technical competence. Since today’s students will work in jobs that haven’t been invented yet, we need to foster skills that prepare them to adapt, to learn and to thrive. When companies were asked “What skills are most essential for new hires” the most common responses were: technical skills, creativity, and the ability to communicate through digital and visual media.
What defines Gen Z?
Today’s 11 to 17 year olds have grown up with the Internet in their pockets and the ability to quickly take an idea and make it real with an app, a prototype, and a video. Adobe conducted a study with 11-17 year olds and their teachers around the world to better understand Gen Z.
- Technology is Gen Z’s native environment, giving access to a world of diverse views and ideas, and allowing them to express their creativity. They feel they are more creative than past generations and are passionate about doing and making things better. They attribute this to their ability to connect quickly to a world of ideas and to create with new technologies.
- When asked about their future, Gen Z students are both nervous and excited. By the time these students enter the job market, there will be new technologies, new industries and major shifts in our economy. This means opportunity for those who can navigate change, adapt quickly and keep learning.
- Nearly half of students feel what they learn outside of the classroom is more important to their future careers. Students learn from their parents and families, from YouTube, and from experiences like internships or real world projects. They expect to learn from their networks and seek out specific expertise online.
- Educators agree that technology defines Gen Z. Some see technology as a potential hindrance to independent thinking, particularly without guidance – but they overwhelmingly feel that it has revolutionized the way they teach Gen Z students.
- Students and teachers overwhelmingly agree that Gen Z learns best through doing and making, and least through traditional methods such as memorization. There is a significant gap in how Gen Z students learn best and how they are taught in schools today. When asked how often they learn by doing/creating, students said 16% of the time and teachers said 24% of the time.
Many schools and universities are shifting their practices, their infrastructure and their use of technology to better prepare the next generation. USC’s Annenberg School offers one great example. Courtney Miller, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at USC’s Annenberg School, shares “Our challenge is to build digital media know-how across our curriculum, while complementing and enhancing other core skills we want to foster, including creativity, critical thinking, and storytelling”
- USC designed a beautiful building with creativity and state of the art technology in mind to showcase student work. Their Digital Lounge facilitates digital making and peer-to-peer learning.
- To build a bridge to real world experiences, the school cultivate relationships with industry experts and encourage real-world experiences like backpack journalism, study abroad and internships.
- Students learn to demonstrate their skills and knowledge through a curated online presence and portfolio and with Adobe Certified Associate certifications.
- Learn more about how USC’s Courtney Miller is teaching digital literacy skills to every student.
Adobe can help.
It’s a challenge to keep up with the demands placed on education. Let’s start by preparing creative students with modern communication skills and the ability to learn and adapt – no matter their field.
Whether you want to include more opportunities for learning by doing or creating, to help your students flex their creative muscles, or to leverage technologies, Adobe can help you get started to teach creativity and digital literacy with:
- Free professional development
- Free curriculum and lesson plans
- A vibrant community of practice
Also, Adobe’s free web-based tool, Adobe Spark is a quick and easy way to create beautiful content that tells powerful stories. Educators love Spark– it’s simple and intuitive to use and lets creators focus on their message.
Join uson Adobe’s Education Exchange, a free to join and use community of 400,000 creative educators, and explore 10,000+ learning resources.