We are amid an educational era where students have access to the world in their back pockets. These students, born at the onset of the smartphone in 1997, have never lived in a day where the answer to almost every question can be found in the blink of an eye. The use of mobile devices and computers are an integral part of every moment of their lives. In light of this shift, how might we leverage the power of Generation Z?
Although Generation Z students live in a digitally connected world, the writing assignments assigned in school have not progressed from the analog format developed decades ago. Regardless of your age, we’ve probably all written similar essays: personal narratives, persuasive letters, and responses to books of literary merit. So why do writing assignments continue to stay the same when our students’ world has so drastically changed? In order to match the writing experience to the lives of our hyper-connected students, we need to leverage technology to connect with our Generation Z students. Through blogging and vlogging, we can encourage our students to communicate in engaging and authentic ways that mirror their personal lives. Here are 3 reasons to get your students vlogging and blogging this year:
Replicate an Authentic Experience
In the last ten years, careers in blogging and vlogging have exploded. Teens and adults are making a living through contributing content via blogs, Twitch streams, and YouTube channels, and reaching more people within the ages of 18-49 than all cable networks combined. These individuals are making thousands of dollars a month sharing digital content. Blogging and vlogging are neither exclusive to high school students nor the English Language Arts classroom. The highest paid YouTuber is a 7-year old boy named Ryan, who rakes in $22 million a year. For our students, no form of sharing their stories is more authentic than web-based platforms and apps: YouTube, Edublogs, Seesaw, and FlipGrid to name a few.\
Promote Creativity and Self Expression
When we don’t restrict blogging and vlogging to academic topics, students will potentially share feelings they may not have otherwise explored. Whether it is through speaking or writing, continued practice improves our students’ confidence. They become more comfortable with their voice, beliefs, and opinions and often discover talents they didn’t realize they possessed. These are valuable life skills our students will carry into the workforce.
Increase the Desire to Write and Communicate
In the traditional classroom, most students’ writing stays within a small circle of readers: the student, the teacher, the parent(s), and perhaps a peer editor or two. For most students, that’s not enough motivation to craft a strong, polished and robust piece. But when employing blogging or vlogging, the game changes. Instead of a minimal audience, the scope increases to the entire world. Knowing all eyes are on them, what our students say and how they plan to say it changes.
What might your students say if they had a digital tool to share their voice? Consider how blogging and vlogging can motivate your students to talk all year long about the process, rather than just the end product. Instead of only sharing their work at the conclusion of a unit, they become producers who share their thoughts every step of the way. Imagine what you might learn from your students if they used either tool to reflect on the project-based learning process, a challenging math concept or a complicated science experiment. As you start the next school year, I challenge you to change up the student experience and create more authentic writing and speaking opportunities in your classroom. Don’t let fear hold you back from allowing your students to experience the best year of communication and sharing yet!
Amie Adams is passionate about engaging both students and adults in learning through the use of technology, especially social media and Google. She is able to affect daily change in this work as an Educational Technology Specialist for one of the largest districts in Denver, Colorado. Amie has been educating for 14 years, has earned a Master’s degree in Educational Technology, and is currently pursuing an Ed.S in Leadership in Educational Organizations. She believes in innovating and disrupting the educational norm to create engaging learning experiences that meet the needs of today’s students. In her free time, she is a mom of two, an avid baker, and a lover of all things ‘90s pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @Whamies.