1. Andreas Schleicher: Use data to build better schools

Schleicher, an education surveyor, opens his talk with a simple statement: “We have such a hard time figuring out that learning is not a place, but an activity.” He talks about the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), created by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This exam, Scleicher explains, measures the knowledge levels of 15-year-olds around the world. It encourages “international comparisons [that] have globalized the field of education, that we usually treat as an affair of domestic policy.”

Not only can this global measurement stack schools up against one another, but strategies of high-performing schools can also be used to help others improve, illustrating an important use of data in education.

2. Mitch Resnick: Let’s teach kids to code

Resnick is a computer scientist at MIT, who helps kids of all ages “tinker and experiment with design.” In this talk, he emphasizes the importance of exposing kids not to just new technologies, but creative new technologies.

“It’s almost as if they can read, but not write with new technologies,” Resnick says in the talk. “And I’m interested in helping young people become fluent, so they can write with new technologies. And that really means that they need to be able to write their own computer programs, or code.”

He also talks about the rise of coding programs geared toward kids, and the rise of coding in worldwide, for everyone from Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg to first-graders in Estonia.

3. Anant Agarwal: Why massive open online courses (still) matter

“We are taking what we are learning, and the technologies we are developing in the large, and applying them in the small, to create a blended model of education – to really reinvent and re-imagine what we do in the classroom,” says Agarwal, an education innovator involved in blended and online learning initiatives.

He claims that education hasn’t really changed in the past 500 years – that the last big changes in education were the printing press and textbook, while “everything else has changed around us.” The real issue, Agarwal asserts, is access. That’s why he says massive open online courses (MOOCs) are so important. They allow us to widely share quality learning and supplement our traditional educational models.