5 must-watch TED Talks

These 5 TED Talks are each given by an education professional or technology expert with their own unique vision for how to improve learning.

ed-tech-ted-talksThe nonprofit Technology, Education and Design (TED) is “devoted to spreading ideas,” according to its mission statement. How does it do that?

By recording and posting various talks on different topics, given by experts in different fields. It began in 1984, but has lately risen to new popularity, and now has a worldwide following.

Not only does TED have a wide range of Talks devoted exclusively to education, but many of these talks–all available online–deal specifically with education technology, and how to best integrate technological innovations into schools everywhere.

Below are five standout TED Talks on the subject of ed-tech, each given by an education professional or technology expert with their own unique vision for how to improve the quality of learning.

(Next page: Must-watch TED Talks)

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.

4. Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer

This talk is a little different–the speaker, Suarez, is only 12. On top of that, he has already taught himself to build iPhone apps.

“I’ve always had a fascination for computers and technology,” he says. His favorite app that he’s designed? A Justin Bieber version of Whac-A-Mole entitled, “Bustin Jieber.”

But in his capacity as a software developer, Suarez says, he often finds that other kids come to him for advice on where to learn how to make their own apps. He encourages starting with the basics, like Python and Java, as well as Apple’s Software Development Kit. Now, he is leading an App Club at his school, where he helps his fellow students learn how to create apps of their own.

5. Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Khan is an educator and the founder of Khan Academy, a series of more than 2,000 educational videos that cover math and other subjects, allowing students to access educational resources anytime, anywhere.

He stresses the importance of interactive exercises and flipped learning in the classroom. Teachers, Khan says, tell him that they use his videos as lectures, which they assign as homework. And what they would assign as homework, they do in the classroom.

“By removing the one-size-fits-all lecture from the classroom, and letting the students have a self-paced lecture at home… when you go to the classroom, letting them do work, having the teacher walk around, having the peers actually be able to interact with each other, these teachers have used technology to humanize the classroom… now it’s a human experience, now they’re actually interacting with each other,” he says.

Carly Buchanan is an Editorial Intern at eSchool News.

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