Education and the Digital Transformation Gone are the days when meemaw would ask her granddaughter to set the clock on her VCR so it would stop blinking angrily at her at night. More likely that same granddaughter is tying meemaw’s devices together on one unified WiFi network that is voice activated by a device in her kitchen that begins and ends with the letter ”A.” (If you just said her name out loud, sorry.)iGens, aka Gen Z or Centennials, are the generation born between 1995 and 2012. They have never known life without the internet or handheld devices. From sundown to sunup their waking hours are focused on the soft-blue hue of a digital screen. However, being a generation that is constantly “plugged in” has created a difficult future for schools–from kindergarten to college–as they struggle to engage and stay relevant with this technology-centric slice of young America. As schools and educational institutions explore how they can not only cater to this generation, but optimize their operations with technology, they’re finding it harder to deny an inevitable digital transformation that exists on the horizon. Wait What? The internet has been around since 1995. The iPhone? 2007. This iGen generation has never known life without either. And it shows. All over the globe think pieces have been written by experts working to unravel the iGen generation. Their research has shown that they are dramatically different from prior generations. Since their lives center around their phones, they are content to stay at home on a daily basis where they feel safe. They don’t socialize much with friends, they are not close to their parents, they have no urgency to drive a car, and they are more likely to feel isolated. Why? They communicate through text, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. (RIP Vine.) On the surface, their generation appears bleak as they sit quietly in a dim room staring intently at pixelated entertainment for hours on end. But that’s not the case. Even though this generation is slower to grow up emotionally than past generations, they are more likely to see their phone, or device, as a path to the light side of life–and not more darkness. The future is bright for iGens. They want to go to school (even if they frown at the idea now like a normal, angsty teen). School to them is a means to an end. They aren’t as concerned with a “traditional education” for education’s sake. They see higher education as a necessary stepping stone to a well-paying job that offers them security and a stable future. “A safe environment for a student promotes the improvement of mental health by decreasing anxiety regarding fear of their own campus community,”Victoria Baumert, Albright College Student Embrace and Grace This may or may not be your generation. It’s okay if you don’t understand iGens. But, you need to know how to respond to these students to bring out the best in their future. (They will be the ones caring for you after you retire.) iGens will not thrive in the antiquated school model of sitting in a classroom for an extended period while listening to a lecture paired with the expectation of copious note taking. For example, a recent study showed that 51 percent of those students surveyed said they learn best by doing while only 12 percent said they learn through listening. They expect immersion at every level. They require a unique experience, one that keeps them engaged. Their innate use of technology has hyper developed the sight portion of their brains making them highly adept visual learners who focus on and analyze complex information quickly. Additionally, their continual use of technology has impacted their attention span. iGens parse hyperlinked keywords in seconds to find the answers they need instead of scouring page after page of textbooks. If you want greater outcomes for your students, it’s time to bring on a digital transformation of epic proportions. How To Do That As a school administrator, you can begin this transformation by observing and evaluating what’s working with peer districts or schools and be willing to make adjustments that are appropriate for your situation. Take the time to create a vision for the use of technology on your campus. Process your goals (for your entire district, school, and individual class experience) and build a budget to implement that technology infrastructure. This is how you become a digital leader in education. Software to hardware, digital to social media, there are so many amazing tools in the world right now. And companies like ours can help you find which digital tool fits your organization. Talk to the experts. Discuss options with companies like Bitwise Industries because we can walk you through each step of the customer journey to meet the needs of the iGen student body and fully support their education, their future trajectory and even, their joy for life. Let Us Help Technology Consulting is the Software Development-as-a-Service division of Bitwise Industries that specializes in custom software development, managed services, and Salesforce implementation. Our technology professionals have deep experience applying cutting-edge technology solutions to help educational institutions of all sizes navigate the technology landscape to find solutions to optimize their operations.If you’re interested in uncovering the tech possibilities available to your organization, click this link to schedule some time with one of our experts. This post was written by Jeff Rickels, Technical Writer for Bitwise Industries. Right now he’s stuck pondering one of life’s greatest mysteries. Did Harry Potter shoplift the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes? We saw him use it on the train back to Hogwarts when he was spying on Malfoy, but we never saw him pay for the item as he walked out of the practical joke shop carrying only his sheepish grin. And those co-owner twins are his best friend’s brothers! With all of the coin that Harry had stashed away, you’d think the Chosen One would want to help this struggling, small, family business keep the doors open on the desolate street at 93 Diagon Alley. Just saying.