The conference featured 11 speakers from across professions and generations. The conference included two panel discussions on “the challenges and opportunities of ‘Teaching Tech’” and “social and mental wellbeing of young adults in the digital age”. Each panel concluded with a brief Q&A. The conference began with a welcome speech from Dr Caroline Varin of Professors Without Borders, she spoke about the importance of using technology as a tool for teaching while ensuring young adults are using those tools safely.
In the first panel, moderator Tina Götschi challenged the panellists Henry Adams, Laurens Geffert, Marc Lewis and Frederick Zahn to consider how we can teach tech to the next generation and to understand the benefits and limitations of using technology for education. Marc Lewis emphasised that schools and universities should equip students with tech skills and grow their creativity so they are provided with all necessities of entering the job market. Henry Adams who is currently a year 8 student stated that schools do not teach enough about tech to students as it is viewed as a distraction instead of a tool for learning. Frederick Zahn who is currently a computer science student at university highlighted the importance of teaching tech to students of all ages and genders. Finally, Laurens Geffert spoke about the importance of tech literacy and gender balance at higher levels of tech professionals.
In the second panel, moderator Dr Carola Hieker asked panellists, Allison Cole-Stutz, Laura Hills, Andrea Rodrigues, Paul Azrak and Mary Sullivan to analyze how to ensure the social and mental wellbeing of young adults in the digital age. Allison Cole-Stutz applauded the resiliency of generation Z on social media and spoke about her experiences as a Dean of Student Affairs with students of Richmond Univesity who aimed to help other students by launching a campaign that encourages young adults to speak out about any mental issues they might be facing. Paul Azrak who is a university student stated that his generation is more understanding and vocal about their social and mental wellbeing than older generations. Laura Hills emphasised that as a mother she sees maintaining the wellbeing of the next generation in the digital age is a challenging task and should be a priority to all parents and educational institutions. Mary Sullivan who is part of Gen Z pointed out the online harassment culture and how aware young people are of problems they might face online. Andrea Rodrigues suggested some ways for young adults to safeguard themselves online.
The event concluded with closing remarks from Sophia Hieker a student at the German School who was the main organiser for this conference and had the idea of involving members of Generation Z in the discussion.
A video and a report of the conference “Teaching Tech to Gen Z” are to be published in the upcoming months.