ASA Blog

What Ed Tech Week Can Learn from Gen Z


Blog Archive

» 2020
WRITTEN BY: ALISA WILKE, VICE PRESIDENT OF STRATEGY & INNOVATION, AMERICAN STUDENT ASSISTANCE (ASA) | APRIL 16, 2021

As innovators across the U.S. and world interact during Ed Tech Week, there is one voice in the room that more of us need to listen to: Gen Z students. These students have a unique perspective on the world, growing up in the age of the internet and rapidly advancing technology. They have watched as education, careers and communities all over the globe have transformed because of technology and learned that anything is possible with a little grit and ingenuity. Because of this, Gen Z has an innate sense of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Many feel that starting their own business is a step to achieving that happiness. Nearly half (47 percent) of Gen Z students ASA surveyed reported that they would prefer to be an entrepreneur and be their own boss rather than work for an established company. And more than a third of those identified that they bring an entrepreneurial mindset to their hobbies, with 39 percent wanting to profit from their hobbies.

Combine that mindset with the fact that today’s middle and high school students are digital natives and ed tech – and the world – is in for a paradigm shift in business and education.

It is time to meet Gen Z students where they are and give them the insights, tools, and experiences to plan a meaningful path forward. Gen Z’s most important goal in life is to be happy, and they are willing to put in the work to secure financial stability and freedom to live their life by their own rules.

This week Gen Z entrepreneurs have the chance to exercise their entrepreneurial spirits at Ed Tech Week.

We are thrilled to partner with EdTech Week and JFF to host the first-ever Youth Career Tech ‘Shark Tank’ event. Young entrepreneurs, ages 16-22, competed to develop technology that assists middle and high schoolers in making decisions about future career and education pathways and solving for barriers that they experienced in their own searches. This week, top finalists from the competition will present to “Shark” investors and receive feedback on their pitch. The winning team will receive the $5,000 ASA Prize. And we’re eager to hear from these young innovators and entrepreneurs and see what they have developed.

Our research also revealed that one in three high schoolers are using an app for career exploration. For most students, their first step is to do their own post-secondary education and career pathway research through apps, social media and other websites, before turning to their support network of parents, counselors, educators and friends. Increasingly, data point to more students engaging in online content when making important decisions, so it is imperative we listen to Gen Z students as we think about solutions that work for them.

If we want the future of ed tech to be meaningful and successful, then we must listen to the ed tech entrepreneurs of the present AND future – Gen Z students. Join us in celebrating all the competing student teams for their innovation and hard work. Competitions like this will help us get there faster by learning from and listening to Gen Z about what they need.

Link copied