How to teach Gen Z to be Collaborative, Innovative and Responsive

Monday, February 06, 2017

When I was eight years old, my third-grade teacher, Ms. Calov, taught me to be an inquisitive learner. Through her contagious enthusiasm, she turned me from an ordinary kid who did only what was required, to a perceptive student who asked for more projects and always connected what I learned to the world around me.

The kinds of soft skills I learned from Ms. Calov are increasingly important for Gen Z, the generation cohort after millennials. To be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow, these students need to be collaborative, innovative and responsive to their environment. Here's a look at how today's teachers are fostering curiosity, creativity and other skills in their students, with help from technology.

- Mark McCrindle

Encouraging collaboration

School is no longer just a place to learn math, science and writing. It’s a place to learn interpersonal skills that will never become outdated—like how to collaborate, resolve conflict, clearly communicate ideas and teach others. Technology can encourage this kind of interaction. For example, since Gen Z is the first digital-native generation, teachers are asking students for help using technology and to show their peers how to use new tools. Students are working on group projects when they’re in separate physical locations, developing their ability to communicate through written feedback and explain the thinking behind their suggestions.

Encourage lifelong learning and innovative thinking

Teachers today are encouraging students to have a love of learning and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, so they can adapt to new careers and industries. The average employee tenure in the U.S. is 4.2 years, a decline from 4.6 years two years prior. In Australia, we’re experiencing a similar effect where employees are staying in jobs for a shorter duration—the Australian average is three years. This means Gen Z will have 17 different jobs in their life, and they’ll need to continue to learn new skills and how to use new tools as they progress in their careers. By designing learning tasks that have a real-world application, teachers are engaging their students as problem finders and problem solvers—roles that are crucial in any job.

Foster an adaptive mindset that’s ready for change

As the economy shifts and new jobs like VR engineers and cognitive computer analysts emerge, the next generation will need to be able to learn quickly and connect the dots between related topics. To teach these skills, many teachers are “flipping” learning —asking students to reflect on global issues and synthesize information from videos, podcasts and written material, instead of simply assigning a chapter in a textbook.

Six decades later, I still remember Ms. Calov. Her inspiration reminds me of a Mother Teresa quote: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Ms. Calov created many ripples by fostering a love of learning and empowering a community of learners. But with technology, every teacher can teach students lifelong skills to carry them through their careers.

Learn more by watching Mark’s recorded talk from Education on Air.

Generation Z defined; The 5 characteristics of today's students

Friday, September 09, 2016

For today’s students, growing up with the emerging technologies at their fingertips has blurred the lines of work and social, of study and entertainment, of private and public. They now live in an open book environment – just a few clicks away from any information. They connect in a border less world across countries and cultures, and they communicate in a post-literate community where texts and tweets are brief, and where visuals and videos get the most cut-through.

At McCrindle, we are regularly engaged by a variety of organisations to assist with understanding who Generation Z is, what context they are being shaped in the traits that define them. Before we can engage this generation, we first need to understand them.

So how can we understand the emerging generations and their learning habits? Well, based on our research, here are five characteristics of today’s students:


Traditionally, learning took place in the classroom and the practice and application through homework. However, in the 21st Century, content can now be accessed through technology anywhere, and often in very visual and engaging forms. Thus we have the flipping of education where the learning takes place outside the classroom, but the essential engagement and practice is still conducted at school, by the all-important facilitator, rather than the teacher.


Not only through technology do today’s students interact, but they are mobile in terms of the jobs they will have and the homes they will live in. It is therefore important to think about how you can equip this generation with not just content but resilience in a changing world.


Today's generation of students are truly global, and are the most likely generation to work in multiple countries. They’re the most globally connected and influenced generation in history and are not limited to the local, but are global as never before.


We've called the emerging generation, Gen Alpha, but we also call them Generation Glass, because it is not just pen and paper, but iPads and screens on which they will learn, which are designed to not just display the written but the visual. While today’s students need literacy they also need digital skills to thrive in this changing world.


In an era of information overload, messages have increasingly become image-based and signs, logos and brands communicate across the language barriers with colour and picture rather than with words and phrases. Communicating symbols and pictures with stories isn’t an entirely new concept. Most ancient forms of communication such as indigenous rock art, reinforces the notion that it is pictures not words that tell the story. Visuals are also the way in which the brain processes information best. It can retain visual symbols and images rather than just written content. Our analysis of learning styles has shown the dominance in the visual and hands on learning styles, above auditory delivery form, which has traditionally dominated the classroom.

To find out more about Generation Z, visit our site and if we can assist with any presentations on the topic of the emerging generations, please feel free to get in touch.

About Ashley McKenzie - Team Leader of Communications at McCrindle

Ashley McKenzie is a social researcher, trends analyst and Team Leader of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst she understands the need for organisations to communicate with the emerging generations to effectively engage and motivate them. 

From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms, content creation and event management, Ashley is well positioned to advise how to achieve cut through in these message-saturated times. 

Her expertise is in training and equipping leaders and teams on how to communicate across generational barriers.


Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


cloudy days suburbs relevant demographic transformations Gen Y South Australia Western Australia shbc 1980 narcissism national crime rates australia society going out land of the middle class meals educated researcher wealth distribution staying in media forecasting hello fresh salary year 7 teleworking property Tuesday Trend government house prices networking data visualisation millionth millenials news Australians dreaming increasing densification Christmas lunch language young australians urban mother's day case study teacher workshop budget church ethnography google for education ipswich house bondi names social shifts consumer wages high density dare to dream emerging trends housing growth tea global financial crisis men domestic mentor Queensland retirement marketing New Zealand social researchers population growth Sydney keynote speaker Royals motivate VIC brands cancelling event couple staff Do It Yourself customer learner financial dreams career focus groups divorce eliane global digital research services ACF world youth day focus group debate Australian Home economy household gen alpha investor media commentary housing New South Wales Australian Trends Territory experience future proofing WA results Northern Beaches Christian School greatness optimistic area cancelling plans rain goals Aussies young people population milestone future of education research pack litter baby boomers entrepreneurial demographic wellbeing high density apartments Christchurch urban taskforce grandparents survey authenticity TAS priorities transport list earn innovation CBD huffington post winter Channel 7 baby name predictions annual income employers faux-cilise events program mythbusting ashley fell presentations DIY generations System's Architect brisbane megatrends income rich analysis christianity define prince george challenge award child care Bathburst Valentine’s Day product market research apartment fears leader Population Clock ABS school Northern Beaches group Kirsten Brewer training business index outsourcing unaffordable social media high school emerging generations trend urban living index REIV Conference Adelaide NT EFF facts moderators guide earnings rising house prices learning collaboration menai study housing trends capital city baby name coffee Scouts deloitte commute population happiness energy FOMO baby Australian Families trends sunny days Research Executive data SA ageing population demographics The ABC of XYZ social commentator equip futurist criminal property market The Daily Edition marriage overcast gold coast acf15 NSW states Births sydney event renting blaxland kate middleton Merry Christmas twentyseventeen 1994 society trends snapshot omnibus technology community engagement food 24,000,000 celebration 2017 easter Canberra real collaborative housing market 23 million mining boom investment February 16 communications cost of living visual buildings darwin youth teachers Melbourne economic resilience baby name trends shopping local communities social trends report Gen X Real Estate internships participants in depth interviews growing population logan selfie seasons not-for-profit volunteers group session intern thrive publication summer social commentary Education Future Forum Geoff Brailey lalor park waverton small business holiday 2013 optus research online alpha plans families social research sentiments pyrmont organisations politics global generations mccrindle tea manly work mates online shopping Res Vis personal growth Australian demographics recap environment "know the times" stats rise of local aussie culture world weather sydneycity consumerism census Mark McCrindle shifts sustainable keynote resource social enquiry financial independence wedding Assistant Store Manager visualisation tuesday cancel plans NEETs cars relational Queensland: QLD australian communities trends report Myth education future affordable ultimo education sector faux-ciliser home residents optus my business awards holidays christmas New Zeland Wellington youth unemployment sydneysiders social researcher finance sector wide study Northern Territory trends of 2017 middle class tips learning styles proactive school students post rationalism PSI university degree 2016 2015 Real Estate Institute of Victoria leadership HSC January 26th demographer Caregiver Australian Dream 2012 socialising easy rider poor village research visualisation home owner Tuesday Trends mateship media activity workplace curiosity Financial Planning Week generation alpha schools community event Australia Day winter blues statistics non profit video national private wealth marrickville religion living victoria JOMO hills shire woolworths shopper's pick brand Financial Planning Association work-life education research REIV National Conference entertainment forum Sydney friendship professional development Christmas season house price millennials capital cities eliane miles IT Specialists careers Hornsby Shire Council tableau population map Generation X unemployment insight internet Love responsive gen z crows nest leadership workshop long weekend state Channel Seven daily telegraph women mccrindle in the media newspaper tertiary education Charlotte safe Australian Bureau of Statistics employment jobs 1975 family balance skills brand experience toys weekly earnings trend tuesday property price housing affordability mobile Word Up Wagga Wagga innovative trends of 2016 40 million etiquette public speaking mccrindle urban living life faux-cilising ACT rent new york times social the changing face of google baby names debt divorce rate ease of travel workplace culture presentation financial future work geomapping Australian schools Australian communities gender professional communication australian communities forum hornsby in the media Wodonga data analyst 2020 renter of the future 2014 conference marriages wealth townhouses organisational culture keynote speaker dream royal thought leadership potts point Australia Day 2017 Social Trend McCrindle Speakers neutral bay hobart infographic generational trends mover and shaker social life mortgage hopes event daily commute wealth and income distribution cost princess charlotte identity public holiday tattoos households water educhat personalities city conference speaker australian social research parents local demographic trends cultural diversity australians staying home more Northern beaches Event students clothing socialites goal home ownership low density Netflix GPO vegemite insights cash graphs ACF 2016 Engineering Manager growth parenting panel mccrindle research baby boom change cartodb Duchess of Cambridge quote interactive high density living cooking TDE poker master dessert rental stress national wealth generation Australian Communities Trends crime royal influence teaching spend future proof social change wolloomooloo stay home royal baby trends analyst research data affordability perth Tasmania Deaths engage entrepreneurs of today 24 million World Water Day media release financial Kiwi teach ideas royal family offenders Generation Y education sports children ashley mckenzie learn Crime Rates generation Z know the times click cold workforce schools students typical australian future of work anzac owning a home Australian Census sector wide year 12 FPA vegetarian repayments conference presentation communicate rule keeper wealth and income culture charity moreton bay internship school satisfaction suburb tv sunburnt country survey design qualitative research entrepreneur future-proof business father's day 10 years university Christmas presents average aussie jobs of the future slideshare education future report friends emerging technologies builders not for profit mythbusters paying to work fresh 1968 follow social lives student sydney speaker suburban living monarchy future Aussie sun Financial Planning Association of Australia community social analysis lifestyle English