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.
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?