It’s not uttered a lot anymore, there was a phrase being thrown around maybe ten or more years ago: “digital native.” Supposedly, “digital native” referred to a specific student who would enter college having used computers and digital learning materials her entire life.
Marc Prensky coined the term first in his 2001 paper and then it slowly permeated into common speech:
“Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work. (Does any of this sound familiar?)”
Within Higher Ed, the implication was that when these students entered college, they would expect digital solutions to everything and print textbook sales would decline. College bookstores and publishers needed to get ready.
Whether or not the potential of the “digital native” turned out to be accurate, most people accepted that incoming students would have a certain expectation for how they would learn. As a result, the textbook industry began to prepare for these students and make changes to learning materials and product offerings.
Digital is now pervasive – not necessarily dominant – but certainly commonplace – and most believe the trend will only continue.
“Most faculty members, 73 percent, believe the trends in favor of digital content options will continue, according to the report. Another 73 percent of faculty members said they were introduced to new technology or courseware during the 2019-20 academic year that they plan to continue using.”
Digital materials are undeniably a growing trend for students, faculty and campuses to choose in coming years.
So, what should we look out for next? What expectations do incoming students have? What experiences have they had that will define what they expect from us? And what changes do we need to make?
One way to characterize those expectations are as “one-click” or “one-tap” users.
The “One-Click Generation” wants a lot from college. Their expectations for customer service are often very different from those who are providing it. For most of their lives, making purchases has involved clicking a button. If they want something, they click a button and it shows up. Their expectation is that getting most of what they need is easy and automatic. They haven’t experienced purchasing any other way.
Another post on VentureBeat characterized “one-tap” as:
“The One-Tap Generation is a cross-generational concept meant to encompass the tech-savvy, hyper-connected, convenience-seeking, always-online individual, regardless of age. This generation also has high expectations of having technology work hard on their behalf. For example, the typical One-Tap Generation user expects their interactions to be mobile-native and very easy to navigate on a phone screen. All actions are expected to be metaphorically as efficient as a one-tap or thumb swipe. Moreover, a smooth transition from intent to result is paramount. Basic information about themselves shall be magically known or readily available (i.e. aided by technology). Simply put, this generation demands simplicity, automation, and ultimately convenience. The One-Tap Generation expects the technology they interact with to ‘get with the times!’”
The experience of the “One-Click Generation” stresses the need for collegiate retailers to innovate and simplify and move faster. If there is a process that can be simplified, sped up, and made largely invisible, it’s important to make that change just to meet expectations. Processes that are cumbersome and slow will lead to extra frustration from the “One-Click Generation”. They simply aren’t used to processes that aren’t automated. They aren’t used to delays.
Watchman Payment Systems is working to meet the needs of the One-Click Generation by turning a slow, cumbersome process into something fast, effective, and invisible. Our services abstract away cumbersome work-arounds. Whether at the campus store, with online purchases, or via the LMS, we strive to make it all one-click.