Inquisitive millennials are more likely to Google the answers to nagging questions rather than asking a human for help, according to results from a new survey.
A Harris poll conducted by the nonprofit Growing Leaders found 69% of people 18 to 34 years old said they think they learn more from technology than from people. That was the largest percentage among the 2,264 respondents — just 50% of baby boomers over 45 felt the same — and likely an indication that the younger Gen Z crowd feels similarly.
Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, said the trend of younger people feeling more comfortable learning through screens is especially important in the world of education. If schools don’t adapt and move to a more blended style of instruction, Elmore said, America’s schools could see a growing disinterest in traditional education.
“I think higher education will be in trouble,” Elmore told Business Insider, pointing to the rise of online learning and mounting college debt. He envisions younger generations enrolling less frequently in formal colleges having seen older siblings graduate with few job prospects and thousands of dollars in loans.
“They graduate from college, and now they have got $US28,000 in debt and they’re a barista at Starbucks, which they could’ve done before college,” Elmore said.
Some survey data indicate Gen-Zers are more likely to defer going to college and make an effort to avoid going into debt by working part- or full-time.
K-12 education changes a bit faster than higher education. Typically, public middle and high schools have an easier time pushing through changes to their classrooms than universities. But the move to a hybrid model, in which teachers combine classical instruction with lessons guided by technology, has still been slow.
This model, known as “personalised” or “individualized” learning, has become popular among tech entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. The schools that have switched have primarily been those that can afford to.
All this is to say millennials’ preferences have yet again become a dominant force in the American landscape. Just as the country’s largest generation has killed off certain chain restaurants and home goods, their attitudes are forcing teachers to rethink education.
Elmore said when he gives lectures at high school conferences, teachers will come up to him and complain they have trouble relating to their students because they are more interested in their phones than lessons. He interprets the latest survey results as an indication to meet those students where they already are.
But he also believes there should still be room for putting devices away.
“I probably learned way more from my dad growing up than I realised, but it was just watching, “Elmore said. “He wasn’t lecturing to me. I was just watching how he changed the oil in his car or did this negotiation at the counter of a store.”