Collaborative Learning with Asynchronous Social Systems

What is the most effective configuration for a 21st-century “classroom”? Should it even be a “room”? Are 21st-century learners fundamentally different from those that preceded them? If so, what are the implications for traditional classrooms, workforce training, and lifelong learning?

Generation Z, as they have been coined, consists of those born in 1995 or later. By 2020, they will account for one-third of the U.S. population, and all “traditional-age” K-16 students. They are quite different from their predecessors, the “Millennials”, and more so from “Baby Boomers”.
In particular, a recent report (Huffington Post, 11/6/17) suggested the Gen-Zs are likely to:

  • live in a world of apps and continuous updates, resulting in less attention span
  • continually shift between work and play, multi-tasking while ignoring distractions
  • join the workforce early, by-passing traditional diplomas and debt for online training
  • embrace online social interactions, as more than 90% already have a digital footprint
  • consider themselves global citizens in their thinking, interactions, and relatability.

The future of education, at all levels, formal and informal, must change to accommodate the changing characteristics of learners. The Gen-Z attributes above provide a starting point for imagining new or modified learning environments that emphasize and capitalize on social interactions and effective technology. We intend to be at the forefront of that movement.