Google education chief says higher ed needs new approach for Generation Z

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. ­ — Colleges and universities need to create lifelong learning partnerships with their students and alumni, Google’s chief education evangelist told a Penn State audience Tuesday.

“If my 14-year-old comes to Penn State, I want you to have him forever,” Jaime Casap said in a keynote address to about 150 academic and business leaders at the 2015 EdTech Network Summit.

“I want you to be able to connect with him and communicate with him, and 10 years down the road to be able to provide more training or more research.”

When Casap finished college and graduate school he remembers thinking, “I am done learning.”

“That was false way back then, and it’s even more false today,” he said. “We’re never done. So where’s that partnership, that relationship?”

"I cringe every time someone asks my 14-year-old, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?’ There’s a good chance that his job doesn't even exist yet."

CEOs and representatives from more than 50 educational technology companies participated in the summit, being held Nov. 2-4 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Participants are looking at ways to develop solutions for the challenges facing higher education.

Casap, who was part of the team that launched Google Apps for Education, said the educational model that has worked for so long in this country needs reconfiguring for today’s “globally connected, network-based and knowledge-based economy.”

 “We have to create education models that reflect that economy, just like we did 150 years ago,” he said. “We have to think about: What does education need to look like?”

Until recently, knowledge came from teachers and professors or from the library. “Now we have the world at our fingertips, but we’re still using the educational model where we didn’t have that.”

Members of Generation Z don't know a world without smart phones or wi-fi or Google, Casap said.

They aren’t wired differently, “but how they think about learning is different,” he said. “We have to make sure they're not just natives to digital technology — that we actually teach them to be good digital leaders.”

That means teaching them how to examine and vet information, Casap said.

“No matter how hard this generation tries — and my 14-year-old is trying very, very hard — they will never be able to watch every video on YouTube,” he said.

“About 100 hours of video gets pushed up to YouTube every minute. How do you make sense of the information that's coming at them? How do we help them look at the world from both a traditional way of doing things but also the digital way — and how do those things relate to each other?”

Casap said he cringes every time someone asks his 14-year-old son what he wants to be when he grows up. "There’s a good chance that his job doesn't even exist yet," he said.

In that world, educators should ask students what problems they want to solve, not what they want to be, he said.

“Then we can follow up with, ‘What are the knowledge, the skills and abilities you need to solve that problem?’” he said. “How do you get those knowledge, skills  and abilities? What classes can you take? Who should you be collaborating with? What websites should you be visiting? What blogs should you be reading? What research should you be paying attention to?”

Young people today value higher education, but they are outcome-oriented and looking for more competency-based education, Casap said. They want to “take what they learn and practice it on a consistent basis” —in real-life experiences such as internships.

Colleges and universities also need to emphasize the opportunities they offer to build innovation and entrepreneurial skills, Casap said.

Casap said he is constantly asked what education of the future or the classroom of the future will look like, and his answer is, “I don’t know.”

Twenty years ago, just 1 percent of the world was online. Today, it is 40 percent. “The Internet is new for us,” Casap said. “This is the most exciting time in education.”

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Last Updated November 03, 2015