Seamless-content and remote access are the standards that students expect, says the University of North Carolina's Gary Kayye.

Oct 22 2019

Q&A: UNC Professor Gary Kayye on How Gen Z Will Transform Campus Tech

Today’s learners shouldn’t ever have to miss a class. With the right tools, they don’t have to.

Millennials are out of the classroom, and Generation Z is in. University of North Carolina professor Gary Kayye, who teaches courses in new media and is the founder and director of THE rAVe Agency, believes most institutions haven’t yet made the changes that will help them meet the expectations of the students now filling their halls

He spoke to EdTech from Melbourne, Australia, where he was presenting at the 2019 Integrate Speaker Series.

EDTECH: As millennials have given way to Gen Z students, has there been a meaningful shift in colleges’ approach to technology?

KAYYE: Not yet. Universities are behind a couple of years, and they need to rapidly catch up. The average 25-year-old and the average 20-year-old are vastly different today in the way they interact with technology and services

Millennials benefited from technology because it forced professors — and, for that matter, middle school and high school teachers — to take whatever they were teaching and put it into something like PowerPoint.

There was always an outline that the students could follow.

Gen Z would rather have the slides delivered to their personal devices in real time. They want to annotate whatever’s on the slides and make their own notes. They would rather have the content streamed directly to the devices in their hands.

And speaking of the devices in their hands, the devices that universities are used to handling, and that they do a really good job handling from the standpoint of managing content, are ­laptops. 

They are not doing a good job at handling tablets and mobile phones. All you have to do to see that is look at all the learning management systems that are not optimized for mobile devices. It’s completely illogical.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how experts expect Generation Z students to push the limits of mobile-first learning.

EDTECH: It sounds like BYOD has changed ­dramatically over time.

KAYYE:Most students don’t care about putting their screen on the screen in the front of the room, and that’s what BYOD mostly means. What I’m talking about is delivering the content to the student.

It’s not logical for a millennial to say, “I missed class. I missed the notes. I have to get the notes from my friend.” Why? Because they grew up having access to the notes in the first place.

And Gen Z has always had that. They started with smartboards in kindergarten. They are expecting the technology to be seamless. 

In their case, BYOD doesn’t mean sharing devices on a projector. It means, “You should be sending the content to me.” It means, “If I miss class, I should be able to join class from wherever I am without any limitations.”

Right now, the limitations are the IT department saying, “That’s not secure.” Or the professor not even knowing how to send that content other than through email or posting it on an LMS that isn’t mobile friendly.

EDTECH: So, what are Gen Z students looking for in their learning spaces?

KAYYE: If you jump forward 10 years, colleges will have gotten smart — the ones that are really smart are already doing this — and realized that Gen Z sees electronic communication as equal to communication in person.

If you’re just in class to absorb a lecture, why can’t that lecture be delivered asynchronously, anywhere, at any time

Kayye Headshot
If the content is being delivered on the network, seamlessly, then you don’t have to miss class."

Gary Kayye Professor, University of North Carolina

Right now, if students don’t want to miss class, the only option is to walk across campus and go to class. So, if you’re sick with the flu, you have to miss class; if you’re traveling for a job interview, you have to miss class.

If the content is being delivered on the network, seamlessly, then you don’t have to miss class. You just join the class and access the content via the network, wherever you are. 

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how universities are working to meet the demands of Generation Z students.

EDTECH: What type of IT investments will help universities meet these expectations?

KAYYE: Universities need to fix their network infrastructure. 

Most universities are sharing this giant network among all things connected, which tends to create a “not on my network” attitude, in some IT departments, toward collaboration-based tools.

What we really should be seeing are parsed networks, where you have a network that manages secure content (admissions information, payment information, student personal records) that is separate from the content management network of the classroom management systems, which is also separate from the network that students use just to access streaming media. 

That would significantly simplify the network infrastructure and allow us to put appropriate tools on appropriate networks.

EDTECH: How can CIOs be proactive as students’ expectations evolve?

KAYYE:There needs to be a committee that works together on this. 

Find the optimist in your IT department and put them with students who can tell you how they work, how they communicate and how they collaborate

But do something — or be left behind by a generation of students who will take their tuition elsewhere.

Geoff Wood

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