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 It’s a place to learn interpersonal skills that will never become outdated—like how to collaborate, resolve conflict, clearly communicate ideas and teach others.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


church professional services experience cartodb Wagga Wagga debate workshop rise of local staying in post rationalism Do It Yourself WA darwin sydney market leadersip social life happiness mining boom Lower Hunter Region social change Kirsten Brewer thrive Christchurch omnibus sydney speaker relational mover and shaker renter of the future Australia Day sydney hills energy future of work long weekend work-life bureau Performance Sentiment Index mentor year 12 social impact mythbusters innovative winter dreams "know the times" land of the middle class census GPO mortgage graphs social shifts giving conference presentation blaxland workforce research data collaborative Res Vis population milestone generations micro FOMO weekly earnings emerging generations ultimo infographic mythbusting financial planning fresh forum seasons sunburnt country students economic statistics public speaker interactive learning styles dessert sector wide NBRS Architecture social issues mccrindle in the media education future report challenge ipswich vegetarian seasons greetings focus groups young people surnames earnings meals educhat high density apartments social lives slideshare employmee wellbeing wedding Queensland customer debt South Australia property cars Christmas data public holiday schools proactive university Canberra James Ward public transport sun australian communities forum manly office in the media TAS live the dream social enquiry Gen X digital socialites friends victoria donation cooking Mount Annan-Currant Hill litter spirituality royal influence emerging trends Vocational education baby boomers collaboration Research Executive cloudy days Northern Beaches gen z presentation repayments australians staying home more parents home owner Mark McCrindle VET sector mccrindle research SMSF wealth and income distribution census fail housing affordability group session school divorce life maiden purpose Sydney population year 7 Crime Rates survey design entertainment home ownership hello fresh overcast affordability baby housing professional speaker Gen Z Expert online average aussie national crime rates demographic trends wealth and income census 2016 income new york times child care personalities conference speaker urban taskforce the average aussie English rich employmer SMART SA research visualisation trades potts point office opening wealth inequality baby names australia report baby name predictions bus social commentary urban development keynote family NEETs future of education housing market food insecurity sydney metro teaching publication Northern beaches Event community event Northern Beaches Christian School award winner panel faux-ciliser rising house prices property price Australian schools faux-cilising change baby name trends the hills supply and demand millionth rain Scouts NFP event greatness future of shopping affordable coffee lovers neutral bay owning a home communities waverton screenage education innovation wolloomooloo Bathburst hopes future-proof goal Channel 7 equip social researcher state presentations commuting forecasting 2015 engage tips Jura Australia urban living bondi local communities acf15 christian Andrew Duffin Merry Christmas population map winter blues Sydney Lifestyle Study trends of 2016 jobs of the future cash McCridle Australian Trends cica sydney event families volunteer 24 million media commentary environmental scanning Western Australia travel market research brand financial dreams Work place data gender financial fears insight Lower Hunter HR food bank data analyst consumerism prince george google Willowdale event royal baby government qualitative research royal ageing marriage tattoos social research leadership workshop clothing baby boom volunteering schools students australian real estate christmas 1994 storytelling case study thought leadership criminal Royals Skilling Financial Planning Association of Australia office space average sydneysider IT Specialists employers financial independence facts Australian Census men communication training Social Trend wealth distribution pharmacy social trends summer Australian Population changing face of sydney states participants logan TED pyrmont data visualisation Tasmania Generation Y surname townhouses names organisations woolworths results System's Architect christmas 2017 Christmas research Engineering Manager staff 2014 learn pharmacies 2017 tv city dare to dream poker master focus group buildings the australian dream 2012 World Water Day skills culturally diverse define student teach shifts money priorities charity aged care puzzle Financial Planning Association commuters sydneysider public speaking resilience financial Geoff Brailey household faux-cilise Real Estate do people still change their surname after marriage? insights easter cultural diveristy EFF stay home Hunter Valley younger generations baby names organisational culture volunteers millennials university degree hills young australians optimistic mobile future proof eliane real researcher employment jobs urban professional unaffordable shbc growing population retirement teleworking children Australian community trends forecast Love social analysis wage wages faith global generations global ACF17 Queensland: QLD work from home national wealth Valentine’s Day global financial crisis breakfast CPI low density volunteering data Real Estate Institute of Victoria 2020 car mateship cost ACF 2016 home demographic transformations conferences plans Myth visualisation ageing population property market charities 2016 census anzac teacher lalor park networking australia society trends demographic culture Australian Dream investing megatrends eliane miles 23 million moreton bay google for education teachers princess charlotte offenders Christmas lunch emerging technologies workplace culture product high density living speajer socialising mccrinlde divorce rate The ABC of XYZ recap housing growth australian baby name micro apartments Deaths healthy future ACF future Black Friday careers norwest global retail ACF2017 TEDx unemployment marketing going out business performance research report professional development follow Gen Y Black Friday in Australia Caregiver dreaming McCrindle Speaker social language australian communities trends report Hills Shire Council professional presenters who is generation z holidays analysis sector wide study brand experience commute meetings Jura Coffee Australian Communities Trends 2016 census results school students crows nest growth geomapping australian community trends report national private wealth Australian Bureau of Statistics 1975 census results speakers pack hunger water 24,000,000 gen alpha research on coffee brands list newspaper cost of living business house price rise sports work tea REIV Conference happy holidays internet mccrindle personal growth trends medicine NBRS click Generation X screenagers generation alpha cancelling plans ideas trends of 2017 Australia street Aussies media activity snapshot PSI internships builders gig economy sentiments school satisfaction Assistant Store Manager generational trends hornsby award holiday suburbs story train infographic wall JOMO financial future perth education research Births grave decision the lucky country christmas trees residents TDE learning video earn trend tuesday New Zealand TED talk technology Wellington the changing face of society twentyseventeen cancelling event house group study parenting sydney property market investment lifestyle women couple Aussie news entrepreneurs of today community goals New South Wales rule keeper Northern Territory capital cities program vegemite tableau monarchy the hills shire environment optus my business awards digital economy apartment entrepreneurial christianity intern contiki Sydney 2013 curiosity not for profit research new office Australian communities infographics rental stress workplace Christmas day weather choice workers ACT budget communications census data identity Channel Seven not-for-profit renting Maxim Accounting stats Netflix households marrickville #censusfail generation Z ACT Report in depth interviews high density aged care Christmas Stats father's day motivate Charlotte ease of travel Tuesday Trend sydneysiders population DIY sector report growth of sydney FPA Sydney keynote speaker REIV National Conference wealth McCrindle Speakers increasing densification apartments deloitte VIC shopping ABS annual income engagement belief safe relevant Population Clock speaker alpha property development shopping centre earning royal family communicate 10 years casual chairty finance 2016 gig outsourcing 40 million huffington post mother's day research services ferry house prices Elderslie-Harrington park non profit local community average Australian quote McCrindle Keynote Speakers suburban living media high school Christmas in Australia transport youth unemployment Australian demographics DESTEL demographics keynote speaker Word Up typical australian poor resource January 26th Financial Planning Week ashley fell New Zeland Christmas season small business gold coast Australians suburb village social media moderators guide February 16 trend world authenticity Australian Home Territory Education Future Forum The Daily Edition food optus educated etiquette Cobbitty-Leppington dream NSW survey online shopping Kiwi fears social commentator toys Australian Families cancel plans youth millenials daily telegraph politics futurist daily commute house price australian social research celebration career media release capital city research NT tuesday donate sunny days VET conference Duchess of Cambridge research pack speakers social researchers hills shire consumer grandparents Business analysis religion visual economy learner aussie culture maiden names US education sector Research Director the great screenage population growth future proofing baby names report social analyst local know the times kate middleton demographer investor education future shopper's pick Australia Day 2017 balance crime paying to work cultural diversity leadership What is food insecurity? marriages work mates Christmas day domestic impact menai nativity scene HSC Macquarie University tertiary education Adelaide leader narcissism nfp urban living index business index showreel internship generation Black Friday Sales area mccrindle tea community engagement ethnography CBD SRE Mark McCrindle in the media weather not for profit trends analyst selfie 1980 easy rider cold Tuesday Trends world youth day Melbourne 1968 brisbane living travelling responsive Hornsby Shire Council Christmas presents ashley mckenzie sustainable care support Retail Sydney Hills Business Chamber rent demography entrepreneur middle class coffee sydneycity TEDx Speaker salary events spend Wodonga Sydney’s south west housing trends hobart friendship