By Marcus Peixoto – President of UnP
In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama adopted an innovative formula for his campaign communications. He managed to connect with young American voters through social networks, forging a link that was crucial to his victory. Behind this there was a marketing and communication agency called SS+K, whose specialty is something known as “creative social engagement.”
In 2014 I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Kevin Skobac, the “brains” at SS+K, before a gathering at the Laureate in Washington.
In a most pragmatic and forthright manner, he gave us five tips for improving communication with today’s young people:
1º) Speak their language; 2º) Give them power on their own terms; 3º) Make them part of the solution; 4º) Find new ways to transmit value; 5º) Never stop experimenting.
As president of the largest private university in Brazil’s Northeast, and being surrounded by young students who are living representatives of this new generation, I found these tips extremely useful.
It became even clearer to me that seeking to understand their “language” and using new channels of communication are essential elements for efficiently transmitting messages in the process of university instruction.
This does not mean that the current language of the internet should prevail in all situations, but rather that we must adapt to new ways of transmitting our teachings to young people.
Kevin also demonstrated that former hierarchical structures no longer make as much sense to young people, who live and admire pro-activeness, sharing and innovation.
Our education should try to make the most of these attributes, including the high expectation inherent to this generation of “instant response in real time.”
It remains for us to discover the educational process appropriate to this new reality, knowing that we are dealing with people who are eager to work in a team, and want constant performance evaluation and feedback.
Finally, and perhaps most important, we must recognize that this same generation accepts experimentation much more naturally than its predecessors. Surely this enriches possibilities for testing our new methods of instruction, continually improving them jointly with our students.
After all, just as President Obama managed to “strike the right note” and create a constructive environment for debate with his young voters, I believe we have ahead of us a fantastic opportunity that’s very similar: working together with this new generation we can rebuild and fine-tune the way we teach and learn.