Student led co-creation through the MarTech Laboratory at Ulster University: Past Successes of the ‘6S community’.

Do you know any organisations focusing on sustainability and/or social good projects who could benefit from working with some of Ulster’s brightest Marketing undergraduates?  If they would like to participate in a Digital Marketing audit and strategy development between October and January, click here for more details or share with someone who might be a good fit for the 6S community.  To learn more, read on!

The MarTech Laboratory is a concept at Ulster which is supported by specialists and led by students and is focused on exploring digital marketing strategy and applying this knowledge to particular challenges each academic year.  In academic year 2022-23 the MarTech Laboratory is focused on supporting students in exploring and practicing digital marketing for personal/professional development as well as its potential to positively impact on people and planet, promoting a more purpose driven approach to brands and businesses. 

We have previously shared how 6S stands for the MarTech Laboratory’ s key stakeholders who are students, specialists (academic, industry, policy and societal focused), social enterprise, start-ups, sustainability focused or social good projects.

Some notable experiences we have participated in as the MarTech Laboratory (previously ALTMarketing.co) include challenges with public sector organisations such as assisting Tourism NI’s launch of “Embrace the Giant Spirit” campaign as well as multinationals like ABB, and their Smart Homes division as well as social enterprises and start ups such as Madlug and Ulster University’s student wellbeing project.  Our focus is much more firmly on sustainability and social good and as part of this developing ethos our 6S community will seek to engage projects relating to these important and impactful types of outcomes, hopefully enabling organisations such as start ups and social enterprises in the process.

Given the social and economic importance of start-ups and social enterprises, last year we worked with 2 start ups and 1 social enterprise and co-developed strategies with them.  Below is some of the feedback we received from those experiences which will give you a sense of the project experience when working with Ulster undergraduates on a Digital Marketing challenge:

If you’d like to learn more about the lab and stay in touch with developments, please do join our mailing list and follow us on social media or on LinkedIn.  Please do share this concept with any of your network who might be keen to engage.  They can contact Dr John Bustard (Senior Lecturer, Digital Transformation) at Ulster University at j.bustard@ulster.ac.uk

Gen Z’s Perspective on the Ethical Implications of AI in Education

It is true to say that AI has a significant impact on various aspects of our lives. Its impact on how we live, work, and especially learn is huge. In the context of education, AI presents promising opportunities to enhance learning experiences. However, the ethical implications of AI cannot be overlooked. According to Statista (2023), the majority of global ChatGPT users fall within the age range of 18 to 34 (Gen Z), making up 62.52% of its total user base. Given that Gen Z has become the main user demographic for this AI tool, it is critical now to understand their concerns as well as expectations when it comes to the ethical use of AI, especially in the context of education.

This blog post discusses three questions related to the ethical concerns of using AI in education, aiming to gather insights from Gen Z individuals in the UK and the US.

Question 1: On a scale from 1 (not at all concerned) to 5 (extremely concerned), how concerned are you about the ethical use of AI tools in your current or future educational experiences?

The first question delves into how much Gen Z actually worries about the ethical use of AI tools in their education, be it right now or in the future. The findings reveal that in both the UK and the US, a substantial number of respondents expressed varying degrees of concern.

Level of ConcernUK (%)US (%)
Not at all concerned1113
Slightly concerned2219
Somewhat concerned3836
Very concerned1820
Extremely concerned1012
Table 1. % of people in the UK and the US who are concerned about the ethical use of AI tools in their current or future educational experiences, on a scale from 1 (not at all concerned) to 5 (extremely concerned).

The data reveals that most respondents from both regions (56% in the UK and 68% in the US) fall into the “somewhat concerned” to “very concerned” categories. These figures indicate that Gen Z recognises the importance of ethical factors when it comes to AI in education.

Question 2: On a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), to what extent do you agree with the following statement: The ethical practices of the provider of an AI tool significantly influence my willingness to use that tool for educational purposes.

The second question examines how the ethical practices of AI tool providers influence Gen Z’s willingness to use these tools for educational purposes.

Level of AgreementUK (%)US (%)
Strongly disagree67
Somewhat disagree1211
Neither agree nor disagree4641
Somewhat agree2626
Strongly agree1015
Table 2. % of people in the UK and the US who agree to varying extents with the statement: “The ethical practices of the provider of an AI tool significantly influence my willingness to use that tool for educational purposes”, on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

Interestingly, about half of the respondents in both the UK and the US (56% and 56.5%, respectively) remained neutral, indicating that the willingness to adopt AI tools for educational purposes is moderately affected by ethical considerations. However, a significant number still believe that ethical considerations influence their decisions, with 36% (UK) and 41% (US) expressing agreement to some extent.

Question 3: On a scale from 1 (not important at all) to 5 (extremely important), how important do you believe it is for educational institutions to provide training on ethical use of AI tools as part of their curricula?

The final question explores how important it is to teach about the ethical use of AI tools in education.

Level of ImportanceUK (%)US (%)
Not important at all76
Slightly important1816
Moderately important3333
Very important2627
Extremely important1618
Table 3. % of people in the UK and the US who believe it is important to varying degrees for educational institutions to provide training on ethical use of AI tools as part of their curricula, on a scale from 1 (not important at all) to 5 (extremely important).

According to the data, Gen Z respondents believe educational institutions should provide training on the ethical use of AI tools. Over half of the respondents in both the UK and the US (52% and 45%, respectively) ranked this training as “very important” or “extremely important.”

To address the ethical concerns surrounding AI in education effectively, educational institutions must take a proactive approach in integrating ethics training into their curricula. Ethics training can encompass a wide range of topics, including understanding AI bias, data privacy, and the responsible use of AI technologies (Figure 1). By engaging students in discussions about real-world AI case studies, educators can foster critical thinking and ethical decision-making skills.

Figure 1. Key elements of ethical AI (Siau et al., 2020, p.83)

The insights from the survey highlight the pressing need for educational institutions and AI tool providers to address ethical concerns. Some respondents are unsure about how ethics affect the use of AI tools, but many recognise that ethical considerations are important. In addition, AI tool providers should prioritise ethical guidelines to gain the trust of Gen Z. The survey shows that ethical concerns influence users’ decisions, so it is crucial for providers to demonstrate and communicate their commitment to ethical principles.

Image credit: Canva


Siau, Keng & Wang, Weiyu. (2020). Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethics: Ethics of AI and Ethical AI. Journal of Database Management. 31. 74-87. 10.4018/JDM.2020040105.

Statista (2023) Global user demographics of ChatGPT in 2023, by age and gender. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1384324/chat-gpt-demographic-usage/

Generative AI Tools and the Gen Z’s Perspective

Recently, there has been a surge in the popularity of Generative AI tools, with ChatGPT standing out as a notable tool in the spotlight. A recent survey conducted by Bloomberg Intelligence has shed light on the preferences of consumers aged 16-34 (Gen Z) regarding ChatGPT and its potential impact on the future of search.

The survey has revealed a significant shift in the way Gen Z consumes information online. Consumers in the 16-34 age group have expressed a preference for ChatGPT results over traditional Google search. This indicates that the conversational nature and interactive capabilities of ChatGPT have captured the attention of this generation.

However, when it comes to paying for a subscription to ChatGPT, most individuals in the 16-34 age group are not willing to pay more than $10 per month for such a service. Gen Z, in particular, holds the strongest stance against paying for ChatGPT, with over 50% of participants expressing a preference for free services. This finding suggests that while Gen Z values the convenience and benefits offered by ChatGPT, affordability remains a key consideration for them.

Interestingly, the survey data reveals that the primary use of ChatGPT and other Generative AI tools is for educational purposes, especially in studying. Students have recognised the advantages of leveraging AI-powered tools like ChatGPT to assist them in their educational endeavours. By utilising the conversational capabilities of ChatGPT, students can engage in dynamic and interactive learning experiences. This growing use of ChatGPT in education highlights its potential to revolutionise the process of acquiring and sharing knowledge.

There are ethical issues which present themselves and pedagogically it is still too early to establish all of the drawbacks of engaging with AI (think of the calculator’s impact on mathematics as an example of paradigm shift). There are some very interesting proposals being shared as to how to engage AI as a learning partner and evolve assessments to provide opportunities to engage and grow through honest, authentic and open uses of large language models (LLMs) to individualise and personalise learning but again this field in education is still very much in its infancy in terms of application. The question of ethics is significant and will form some of the Lab’s future focus to assure consideration from multiple perspectives and contexts to try and find pathways for future marketers to engage ethically and effectively with such technologies.

In conclusion, while Generative AI is growing, and the data suggests the increasing acceptance of tools like Chat GPT by Gen Z and their preference for Generative AI over traditional search engines, it’s important to recognise both the advantages and concerns of this technology. While it provides benefits for finding information, as previously stated we also need to address issues like misinformation, ethics, and the impact on human creativity. By doing so, we can ensure a responsible and balanced use of Generative AI.

Image credit: Canva


Bloomberg (2023) ChatGPT is big with Gen Z, but they won’t pay for it. Available from: https://www.bloomberg.com/professional/blog/chatgpt-is-big-with-gen-z-but-they-wont-pay-for-it/

The New Education Landscape: Gen Z’s Vision for Practical Education and Career Pathways

In today’s fast-paced world, higher education is going through a significant transformation. Recent research conducted by Savanta reveals that Gen Z is questioning the long-held notion that attending university is the only pathway to a successful career. With Gen Z challenging these traditional beliefs, it has become crucial for universities to adapt and cater to the changing needs of students.

Savanta’s research reveals that UK universities received over 750,000 applications in 2022. These numbers are expected to rise further, with projections indicating that applications will reach 1 million by 2023. In addition, the research highlights that while many still value the university experience, tensions are arising about how education will be delivered in the future. The emergence of apprenticeships at higher levels introduces a compelling alternative for individuals seeking practical, hands-on learning experiences alongside strong academic standards. This is prompting universities to rethink their educational models, blending theoretical knowledge with practical skills to meet the new demands.

According to the Youth Trends Report (2023), Gen Z, the ethical consumers of today, has clear expectations from brands. An impressive 83% of Gen Z individuals want brands to take a stand on social issues. They seek more than just products; they want a meaningful connection. These expectations also apply to the universities Gen Z selects. In turn, it urges universities to recognise that Gen Z students value environmental sustainability, and community engagement and actively seek out opportunities to make a difference.

In a world that is constantly changing, where success is no longer solely dependent on higher education, students are re-evaluating their options. At the MarTech Laboratory, we acknowledge this changing landscape and provide solutions to meet these evolving perspectives. Our primary focus lies in providing hands-on learning opportunities, actively engaging with the challenges faced by Gen Z. We provide students with chances to tackle real-world MarTech challenges, enabling them to develop practical skills and demonstrate their ability to solve complex issues within the MarTech domain.

Through our #6SCommunity we facilitate networking opportunities with industry professionals. Participants can engage in exclusive webinars, guest lectures, and networking events, which facilitate connections with experts and potential employers. Furthermore, we offer micro internship opportunities and career support, with the aim of assisting participants in leveraging their interdisciplinary skills to propel their professional growth.

At the MarTech Laboratory, we strive to ensure that we stay ahead of the curve and continuously meet the evolving needs of Gen Z students. We firmly believe that by doing so, we can empower the next generation of MarTech professionals to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Image credit: Canva


Voxburner (2023) Youth Trends Report 2023. Available from: Youth Trends Report 2023 [UK] – Voxburner

Savanta (2023) 10 years of student life – how have things changed? Available from: Comms & Convos (hubspotusercontent-na1.net)