Ideas worth spreading about education, technology, and more
The nonprofit Technology, Entertainment and Design (known as TED) is “devoted to spreading ideas,” according to its mission statement. How does it do that? By recording and posting online thousands of talks on many topics, given by experts in different fields.
TED began its work in 1984, but it has lately seen an explosion in popularity. Currently it has a worldwide following.
TED offers a wide range of talks devoted exclusively to education, and many of these talks deal specifically with education technology, including how best to integrate technological innovations in schools to engage students everywhere. All of these talks are available online.
Check out our picks for the ten standout TED Talks on the subject of ed-tech.
Each was given by an education professional or technology expert with a unique vision for how to improve the quality and accessibility of learning.
- Shimon Schocken: “The self-organizing computer course”
Shimon Schocken is a computer science professor and dedicated educator. In this talk he discusses a self-paced online course he developed with his colleague, Noam Nisan, and made available to people all over the world for free. This course was one of the first successful, massive, and free online courses, and it opened doors for many of the online course offerings available today.
- Ayah Bdeir: “Building blocks that blink, beep and teach”
Engineer and artist Ayah Bdeir is the founder of littleBits, a startup that makes an open source library of modular electronics that snap together with small magnets for prototyping and learning. Her TED Talk is a quick 5 ½-minute demonstration of the incredible, LEGO-like modular circuits (“littleBits”) that make electrical engineering accessible and fun for people of all ages. The circuits can be used for anything from creative playtime to teaching about electronics.
- Conrad Wolfram: “Teaching kids real math with computers”
Conrad Wolfram is a mathematician who runs the worldwide arm of Wolfram Research, the mathematical lab behind the cutting-edge knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha. In this talk, Wolfram discusses the importance of teaching math in ways that are relevant to the modern needs of society. His idea is that teaching children how to do math on computers through computer programming is the best way to keep kids engaged and learning.
- Jack Choi: “On the virtual dissection table”
Jack Choi is the CEO of Anatomage, a company specializing in 3D medical technology. In his TED Talk he discusses and demonstrates a virtual touch dissection table, designed by his team to be an affordable and more available alternative to cadaver dissection. This innovative technology will make dissection more accessible to medical students all over the world.
- Salman Khan: “Let's use video to reinvent education”
Salman Khan is the creator of Khan Academy, an online learning resource containing video and instructional content on topics in many different subjects. These videos reinvent the way students can learn by offering them the option to pause, rewind, and replay parts of a video that they didn’t understand at first viewing, or that they need to review.
- Mitch Resnick: “Let's teach kids to code”
Mitch Resnick is a computer scientist who helps kids of all ages experiment with design. His talk emphasizes the modern need for kids to learn a new language: coding. He outlines the benefits of teaching kids how to code, including the result that kids will not only be able to “read” the new technologies, but also create them.
- Anant Agarwal: “Why massive open online courses (still) matter”
Anant Agarwal is an innovator whose blended courses pair online education with face-to-face student-faculty interactions, reshaping the university campus experience. He is the CEO of edX, a nonprofit online collection of free college-level courses. His talk outlines the importance of edX and the massive open online courses that it offers, with the caveat that they are not necessarily a replacement for the traditional classroom experience.
- Ali Carr-Chellman: “Gaming to re-engage boys in learning”
Ali Carr-Chellman is an instructional designer who studies the most effective ways to teach kids. In this TED Talk she pinpoints the reasons why boys are no longer engaged in their schoolwork, and proposes a way to re-ignite their interest in school: by bringing their culture into the classroom through video games that are both educational and fun.
- AnnMarie Thomas: “Hands-on science with squishy circuits”
AnnMarie Thomas is an educator who likes to use engineering tools to help teach others. In this quick, four-minute talk, she shows how homemade play dough can be used to teach electrical properties, and how it will engage kids through bright LEDs, spinning motors, and the chance to design their own circuits.
- Gabe Zichermann: “How games make kids smarter”
In this TED Talk, entrepreneur and author Gabe Zichermann points out that many of today’s kids seem to have a short attention span, which he thinks may be due to boredom. Like Ali Carr-Chellman, Zichermann proposes that video games are good for those kids who need a faster-paced world, making them better problem-solvers and teaching them to multi-task.
These are just a few of the 2000+ Ted Talks currently available to stir your curiosity. Be sure to take advantage of this great FREE online resource, where you can see wonderful and inspirational speakers – no matter where you are.
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