Week 5: Generation Z

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

-Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

INTE5340 has spoken.  Generation Z is our topic of choice for this week - a generation of digital storytellers, swimming in an ocean of story making, consuming, and remixing.  A generation of learners raised in an on-demand, digital society.  This is actually a very broad topic and we could unpack any number of subtopics - I noted from your discussion that there is interest in social media use, assessment, pedagogy, culture, and psychology.    

GenZ data is as much a work in progress as they are; but there are distinct patterns, data, and observations across the literature that do tell some stories.    

There are persistent themes and stereotypes that are ingrained into any GenZ discussion, including short attention-spans and visual communication styles.   Instructor notes and learner tasks this week will therefore (try to) be rapid paced and video-centric with some autonomy baked-in.  

Attention Span

Visual Communication


The elephant in the room.  

Older generations worry obsessively about GenZ's digital dependency, aka screentime, social media, attention spans, and mental health. I'm a Gen X whose thinking is more closely aligned with the Millenials, and who is the parent of two Generation Z boys.  I worry endlessly about their screentime and find myself muttering bits about "back in my day" and "kids today..." - which is surely a generational right of passage.  

Like any demographic group, we can't wholly put people into categories and assume all group traits apply to all group members.  We can't apply universal characteristics to any demographic grouping. However, there are patterns, data, and observations that do tell us stories.  

Off the top, GenZ is

  • the most diverse and inclusive generation in history;
  • the most connected generation in history;
  • most similar to the depression era generation - the Silent Generation;
  • and in terms of learning they are action oriented, project-oriented and highly autonomous.

It's off the academic path, but I found this article to be a solid perspective and summary; and although this is a bit of a marketing-piece, I think it's good to hear as directly from our subject as possible.    

Task 01
Read and annotate the following article within our hypothes.is group.
A 16-Year-Old Explains 10 Things You Need to Know About Generation Z. (2018). SHRM.

New York, New York. The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. The city so nice, they named it twice! Whatever name you know the city by I think it’s safe to say everyone will recognise the bright lights and high rises that help make New York, New York. I spent 6 days exploring the big city, from night viewings on the Top of The Rock to golden hour on Brooklyn Bridge and it lived up to and surpassed every expectation I had. Explore the full collection of photos from my time in NYC at www.morethanjust.photos ✌️
Photo by Joshua Earle / Unsplash

While browsing the literature for this week, I started listing keywords and concepts to identify commonality across articles, authors, and publication-types (academic, marketing, workforce development, etc.)

As I prepared for this week and compiled this list, I found many surprises; and I found it increasingly difficult to select a single article for us to annotate and discuss.  As we have such a diverse set of interest areas within our class,  it seems logical to engage you in the same research and review process that I have experienced.  I wonder if you'll note the same patterns as I.  We're only reading a couple of articles together this week, but I hope you'll explore beyond the minimum.  Learner's choice...  

Task 02
Review of literature
  • Explore the GenZ Bibliography

  • Read and annotate the Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. article linked from the bibliography.

  • Independently research GenZ resources and contribute something original of value to our GenZ Bibliography

Generation of Proximity

Finally, I'd like to suggest that we consider Generation Z as a Generation of Proximity.  They have lived their lives in deep and close proximity to one another, to digital media, and to extreme societal stressors.  They have witnessed the extreme financial stress of the recession and parental worry; repeated mass shootings; extreme partisan politics and news; climate change; and a lifetime that always included war.  We tend to focus on GenZ's technology use but I believe that is an oversimplification and that the Culture of Proximity better captures the Generation Z context.  

hypothes.is: What do you think?

  1. complete task 01, embedded above

  2. complete task 02, embedded above

  3. answer any of the hypothes.is quesitons embedded in the margins of this page

  4. Select and begin making your second Challenge. This will be due on Wednesday next-week (gift of time).

    This is a medium digital story, requiring you to use 2 primary media. NOT the same media used in your first story. Do any challenge that you haven't already done and post it to the StoryLab.

  5. Smile and complete the Weekly-Thing, posted to Slack on Wednesday.

  6. Once you've done all you plan to do for the week, complete the Check-In for Week 5 to claim your points.
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About Brad Hinson

Teller of stories; drinker of coffee; father of kids; tinkerer of tools; geek. I am an SEHD Assistant Dean, an LDT Instructor, and a ThinqStudio Director @ CU Denver.
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