Clearing the Air . . . or Clear as Mud?: Tackling the Questions We Face as Generation Z Demands More Video and Interactive Course Content

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Brief Abstract

Less is not more for Generation Z: They need and expect more videos and interactive course content than ever before.  However, practical and pedagogical questions arise as we respond to this need.  Join us to tackle these questions: the lingering questions we haven’t had the time or space to wrestle with this year. 


Stefanie Buckner has taught the UAEC 200 College Readiness Course at The University of Alabama for five years. She has led two major course revisions, collaborating with instructional designers to create a variety of course content including on-campus videos, screencast tutorials, cartoon videos, and Storyline interactives. Before teaching at UA, she taught high school English in Nashville, TN for seven years, and she has a passion for preparing students for both college-level work and the online learning environment.
Tracy Hinton is an instructor for the UAEC 200 College Readiness Course at The University of Alabama, which is the first class taken by high school students in the UA Early College program. During the past year, she has been involved in a transformative course revision process that incorporates innovative instructional technologies to engage these high school-aged students. Prior to this position, she taught Career Technologies and English at the middle and high school levels. In addition, she worked as a K-12 Library Media Specialist and has presented at local, state, and national conferences. Dr. Hinton's areas of study include K-12 technology integration, 21st Century Learning Skills, and student engagement and motivation in online learning. She enjoys utilizing engaging instructional methods that help students to discover their passions and develop their College and Career Readiness skills.
Robyn Hammontree is an Instructional Designer at The University of Alabama specializing in interactive technology. Prior to joining UA's staff, she worked for five years as a Curriculum Developer with The Institute of Reading Development.

Extended Abstract

We have all worked in online education long enough to know that video content and interactive media increase student engagement. In fact, many of us have experienced the rapid changes in online learning over the last few years: we see our courses embracing more media elements, more screencast tutorials,  more interactive lectures, and more interactive activities than ever before.  And yet, believe it or not, Generation Z wants more.  As digital natives, Generation Z not only desires a highly visual, interactive experience--they expect it.  And after at least one semester of online learning due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Generation Z is hungry for content that captivates their attention and oozes with innovation. This demand begs the question: how much is too much? Videos and interactive media are great, but can there be too much of a good thing?  Do these tools and technologies build necessary bridges in each course, or do they muddy the already full and active waters? 

Whether you are an administrator, instructional designer, or faculty member, you have probably sensed these questions haunting you or others within your institution.  Most likely, these questions were either intensified or completely ignored during your institution’s sudden transition to an online format.  Rather than pretending these practical and pedagogical concerns don’t or shouldn’t exist, this conversation seeks to explore them.   We will begin the conversation with some observations and survey data that confirms Generation Z’s pressing need for more video and interactive content, then we will discuss four distinct tools that many courses have recently embraced in response to this need: Flipgrid, Screencastomatic, Sway, and Adobe Spark.  These tools will truly serve as tools in our discussion, for they will help us identify our fears, concerns, and excitement about reaching Generation Z.   Throughout the conversation, attendees will be encouraged to post their comments, questions, or feedback using either the audio, video, or text tool within Voicethread. At the end of our conversation, we will pose questions to encourage personal reflection and invite each attendee to post one major take-away from the conversation within Voicethread so our realizations, conclusions, and ongoing concerns can be saved and shared with others. Attendees will also be emailed a handout that includes our recent survey data, as well as the basic pros and cons associated with Flipgrid, Screencastomatic, Sway, and Adobe Spark.