Full Session with Abstracts
The vast majority of college students today are members of Generation Z (those born after the mid-1990s), who grew up in a world of smart phones, free Wi-Fi, and social media. The generational experiences of these students shape their preferences in the ways they learn and absorb new information. To develop the next generation of structural engineers who are excited to tackle big, interdisciplinary engineering challenges in creative ways, it is imperative that educators incorporate teaching methods that appeal to and engage these Gen Z learners. This presentation will introduce ways to use technology, such as social media platforms, videos, and online content, as educational tools to enhance student learning with minimal additional burden on the instructor, even for those who do not consider themselves to be tech-savvy. For example, the presentation will discuss how to leverage social media (e.g., Twitter, YouTube, Slack) features and online learning management systems (e.g., Canvas, Piazza, Blackboard) to actively engage students in structural engineering course concepts they see in the “real world” and to encourage group discussion about course concepts outside of the classroom.
Audience members will leave the presentation with new tools and techniques that can be adopted in any course to better engage and excite Gen Z students. An instructor is not required to have a social media or online presence to implement these methods, although active participation in the online student community can certainly enhance efficacy of the techniques presented. Additionally, introduction of these new tools in existing courses does not require significant curriculum overhaul or change in course format, which is often seen as a hurdle to implementation of new teaching techniques. The techniques are scalable, such that these methods can be applied incrementally to a course and built upon over time. To encourage audience participation, the presentation will include interactive surveys to poll the audience on current teaching methods and uses of technology for educational purposes, as well as a poll on what techniques from the presentation audience members plan to adopt for their own courses.