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Top 10 TED Talks That Will Help You Understand EdTech

The average 21st century classroom is, unsurprisingly, more tech-savvy than ever. Many are packed with iPads and laptops, catchy educational videos, expensive laboratory facilities, and even students attending remotely from around the world. To understand modern education, you must track the current trends in educational technology and virtual engagement. What better way than to hear from experts and innovators behind today’s most popular, influential ed-tech resources? In these TED talks, you’ll hear from engineering and programming innovators, pioneers in virtual education, and teachers who have embraced bold ideas in the brick-and-mortar classroom. Read on to discover a new world of exploration, imagination—and fun!

Top 10 EdTech TED Talks

 1. “Why Massive Open Online Courses Still Matter” — Anant Agarwal

After presenting some disappointing results, massive open online courses have acquired a bit of a bad reputation. Can virtual learning be used not to replace, but to supplement, the brick-and-mortar classroom? In this talk, Anant Agarwal, an ed-tech innovator whose courses blend online elements with traditional classroom interactions, thinks that we shouldn’t write off web-based education entirely. By describing the ways that his influential edX nonprofit has permanently changed the landscape of education, he presents a new vision for the 21st century learning experience.

2. “This Virtual Lab Will Revolutionize Science Class” — Michael Bodekaer

In a world of high-tech imaging software and predictive algorithms, most notable scientific discoveries still happen after long hours in the laboratory. What can we do to ensure that the next generation of talented scientists and engineers will not be hampered by lack of access to expensive equipment or adequate lab spaces? Michael Bodekaer, an ed-tech entrepreneur, believes that virtual reality is the answer. In this talk, he takes the audience on a tour of an entirely virtual Ivy League laboratory, which allows students to conduct experiments with world-class machines, rare materials, and even deadly bacteria without excess cost or risk.

3. “Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education” — Salman Khan

Kids spend a lot of time watching YouTube—so why not make YouTube a part of the curriculum? That’s what Salman Khan, founder of the popular Khan Academy website, is doing right now. By allowing students to pause the lecture, fast-forward through parts they already understand, and replay sections that seemed confusing at first, video lectures provide a distinctively individualized learning experience that’s accessible to every child. Khan also argues that video courses give teachers more insight into their students’ learning patterns and habits, creating a more efficient and robust experience for everyone.

4. “Building Blocks That Blink, Blip, and Teach” — Ayah Bdeir

By drawing a parallel between familiar LEGO blocks and transistors, which she calls the “building blocks” of complex circuits, Bdeir invites her audience to think about how electronic engineering could be made more accessible and enjoyable for young students. Her innovative classroom tools, called littleBits, allow children to program a variety of lights, sounds, and actions using simple, intuitive gestures. Bdeir and her team of designers believe that these kid-sized blocks can be used to help children gain confidence in their own programming abilities and understand the electronic systems that they interact with every day.

5. “Gaming to Re-Engage Boys in Learning” — Ali Carr-Chellman

As Carr-Chellman mentions, it’s a well-known fact that school-aged boys struggle with literacy, a trend that is often blamed upon their fascination with video games. How can teachers foster a more receptive attitude towards reading and learning while still keeping boys’ interest levels high? A truly integrative program needs to go deeper, creating rich opportunities for exploration and engaging students in the areas where their interests already lie. Carr-Chellman, an instructional designer who has studied male learning patterns, believes that modeling classroom experiences after immersive video games might be the perfect solution.

6. “Hands-On Science with Squishy Circuits” — Annmarie Thomas

All tech-savvy educators must grapple with one very important question: how can you teach children about science without using hazardous or fragile equipment? Annmarie Thomas believes in the power of Play-Doh. In this short yet informative talk, she describes how using a variety of safe, conductive materials can teach kids about complex circuits, hone their advanced problem-solving skills, and give them the power to program fun lights and sounds—all from within the comfort and safety of the classroom.

7. “Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers” — Conrad Wolfram

Conrad Wolfram believes that our current methods of teaching math—which are mainly based on manual, paper-based calculation—are both dull and ineffective. In a time when computational skills are crucial to everyday living, logical capability, and a diverse variety of professional contexts, teaching kids to love and understand mathematics is more crucial than ever. Why not incorporate the tools that professionals actually use in their fields? In this address, Wolfram advocates for the use of programming and advanced computer modeling as math education methods and explains how they can make learning math more interactive and enjoyable for all.

8. “Let’s Teach Kids to Code” — Mitch Resnick

Everyone uses computers, so why doesn’t everyone learn how to code? In this short but informative talk, Mitch Resnick lays out the case for why we should teach children how to express themselves through programming. He uses a variety of demonstrations to show how students can use coding to explore the world around them, express their own ideas, and learn how to interact with technology in exciting and productive ways, regardless of their future profession. But as Resnick argues, it can also convey important life skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and creative thinking to every student.

9. “A Delightful Way to Teach Kids About Computers” — Linda Liukas

There’s no disputing that software and code are the languages of the future. While these tools are frequently associated with analytical processes and technical expertise, Linda Liukas believes that they also hold a unique potential for storytelling, giving kids the power to build their own worlds and rules. Through her hilarious, often touching stories about working with children and computers, Liukas envisions a future where every student is able to imagine boldly, explore confidently, and create a new generation of zany, versatile technologies.

10. “The 100,000 Student Classroom” — Peter Norvig

How do you create a new kind of classroom—one that can offer a rich educational experience to anyone in the world, regardless of their location? In this groundbreaking talk, Peter Norvig describes the experience of teaching a class that was attended by 200 in-person students and over 100,000 virtual attendees from across the globe. He describes the strategies he and his colleagues used to encourage student engagement, many of which were born from years of experience in the traditional classroom. Norvig puts the concepts of rigid due dates, interactive discussion forums, and host of creative—and sometimes surprising—ideas to the test.

Conclusion

TED Talks are great at unravelling and explaining the opportunities EdTech.  As classrooms will become even more tech-savvy the way students are taught will change, too. With TED Talks by experts in the field, it is easy to keep up to date and understand the vision these pioneers have.

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Theresa Kern

Business Development at beta|careers
Theresa is a management student and team member of the 2017 class at beta|careers.

Her responsibilities include growing and nurturing our platforms and, occasionally, taking care of bus tickets for the team. In her free time, she can be found on horseback out in the woods.
Theresa Kern

Ecosystem Basics