Original and brave in their thinking and doing
by Amalia van Schalkwyk
As a private tertiary institution, we ponder deeply on exactly how we need to navigate training our youth, in order for them to succeed in their studies and future careers. We inculcate skills, wisdom, ethics and integrity in our future graduates, ensuring their competence to design and create original strategic solutions for brand challenges in business and society. We also continuously reflect upon what we might learn from this post-millennial generation, so that we may continue in our quest to become a globally-acclaimed school, graduating proficient Generation Z brand leaders.
However, some people still question if there really is anything that this Google-characterised “ill-fated generation” can teach us? In contrast to popular belief, stereotypes and generalisations, experts who have experience working with this post-millennial generation, rapidly bust the myth that they are doomed. They flag three areas where we can learn from Generation Z, and gain knowledge on how to infuse those insightful lessons into how we train future Veganites.
The digital and technological boom that defines and shapes the identity of Generation Z is the first area on which we should focus. This post-millennial generation is described as the first cohort which does not remember a time without the Internet, Smartphones with foldable screens, social media, Apps or FaceTime. Generation Z, also known as the Innovation Generation (IGen), has come to believe that the Jetson family lived in the mysterious past, because daily use of their own devices, applications and methods of communication has far surpassed what older generations came to know about technology whilst growing up watching the popular cartoon show.
For this generation, technology is a key to new realities and, while they have an average of nine hours screen-time per day, it is vital to take note of the fact that individuals from this cohort are profoundly observant in nature. They simply are not doing nothing or doing “other” work while staring at their smartphones or laptops. Generation Z makes use of technology to learn and experience the world through Googling, streaming, listening to podcasts, reading tweets and DMs, watching videos, checking status updates and live stories, liking, sharing, hashtagging the appropriate GIF and, yes, even taking down notes.
Experts suggest that, collectively, this cohort has more access to knowledge and information than what any single person could ever teach them. We therefore need to pay attention to the evolution and consumption of digital technology, in ways that we have never done before, and realise that technology and digital devices are not the enemy. Vega already has a firmly-rooted understanding of the importance of technology, and incorporates it proactively, through the development of our very own Blackboard Learn, E-Library and Lynda.com, along with the use of other digital aids in lectures and studios. This ensures a more engaging learning environment, where technology is embraced and accepted as an active learning experience. Generation Z is encouraged and guided to interact with theory, rather than merely read about or listen to it.
The post-millennial generation is also so much more than just their digital and technological consumption. This cohort places great value on face-to-face, authentic and inspiring experiences. Whilst Googling has become Generation Z’s second nature for finding information, they do not merely want to skim the surface on a specific topic within a specialisation, module or industry, but rather aspire to deep-dive and think more seriously about information gained through their learning experiences.
Learning by doing is key in their development, and presents itself as the second focus area from which we can gain more insight. By making theory practical, Generation Z not only learns about the world, but also gets the opportunity to become a force within it. Experts suggest that this cohort is more likely to be engaged if an atmosphere is created where they are encouraged to be more productive, inspired to think beyond what is outside the box and motivated to apply their diverse set of business and creative skills to create original strategic solutions for brand challenges in business and society.
It is of vital importance to keep in mind that Generation Z is primarily a digital native generation from the get-go, and that active learning brings the real world of work to them. Vega understands the importance of offering a learning adventure, and regularly invites guest lecturers from within our industry to share their wisdomwithmagic with these bright young explorers. Real life industry briefs and field experiences such as Brand Activations and Brand Challenges, Game and Design Jams, Portfolio Evenings as well as Business Simulations also create innovative learning adventures. As Saint Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”.
A Final Thought
Generation Z’s main motivation for engaging and contributing to any activity in life is not remuneration or praise, but diversity. They are purposeful problem-solvers in search of diverse ideas, possibilities and meaning. Thus, in combination with the use of diverse technological and digital methods of communication, learning by doing, and studying in an environment of active practice, individuals are encouraged to do and be more. Generation Z celebrates and relies on diversity and responds to a training environment that is original and brave in its thinking and doing. This is how this generation will lead and, more importantly, succeed and Vega is ready for the challenge!