Learning is social, ask one of your Generation Z students!

By giving our students practice in talking with others, we give them frames for thinking on their own.

-Lev S. Vygotsky


George Beall from the Huffington Post shared asked young people if they would you call themselves addicted to their digital devices (computer, smartphone, etc.) Beall found that Gen Z’ers are 25% more likely than Millennials to say they are addicted to their digital devices. We went on to share that 40% of Gen Z claim to be digital device addicts. Gen Z’ers were born social. Vygotsky proved long ago that learning is social, (Read more about Vygotsky here.) How can we start allowing the student to power up with their cell phones and tablets to tackle real-life problems that motivate them?

Our students are looking for a meaning or a purpose to feel like they have made a difference. How can we embed learning in this idea? Service learning and problem-based learning provides opportunities for students to think critically, solve problems, work collaborative and satisfy curiosity. As educators, how can we use this as engagement and motivation for learning? We know that learning is social and these devices are most often the Gen Z’ers social connection, why can’t we make that connection to deepen learning and critical thinking? Could we use this to empower learners to be problem seekers or problem definers and not just solve the perfect problem we give them?

Problem-based learning experiences allow just this in learners. Using a case study already prepared or writing the case study themselves gets students working on defining issues and moving through research and debate to present what they believe to be the best solution to the problem. They aren’t the perfect problems found on worksheets. They are problems like, “What effect does mass production farming have on our quality of food?” or “Is bottled water better for us?” How do these problems engage students in mathematical, literacy and social understandings?

What problem do you want to solve?

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