When I need inspiration, I always seem to be able to find it in TED talks. After all, these videos give us all a chance to hear from the world’s thinkers and doers in a short, easy-to-digest format.

That said, when I first started looking for TED talks on education, I was hoping to find a few that discussed the use of technology (considering that’s what we’re most interested in here at Motivis). TED didn’t disappoint. In fact, most of the educational talks had at minimum a technology component, if not a technological focus.

And, at the heart of it, all of the talks could be boiled down to making the world a better place by deploying technology to further learning and education.

I’ve included three of my favorite world-changing education TED talks here. I’d love to hear from you regarding your favorites, as well.

Note: Wouldn’t it be great to see Aleph Molinari implement Sugata Mitra’s “Granny Cloud” model in some of his community centers?

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud

Sugata Mitra discusses why schools as we know them today are not broken. Rather, they are obsolete. Designed to serve the British Empire about 300 years ago, they churn out one-size-fits-all education that produces identical people for “a machine that no longer exists.”

[Tweet “.@Sugatam: Education produces identical people for “a machine that no longer exists.” #edtech”]

So, what are we going to do next? Will we do anything?

He proposes building self-organized learning environments (SOLEs). He came up with the idea by observing that young children in rural India, left alone with a computer, were able to not only learn how to use it, but also learn the English language in order to use it most effectively. Upon further investigation, these young kids were also able to teach themselves about the replication of DNA. From a computer. In English.

His hypothesis was that: broadband + collaboration + encouragement = learning. And, boy, has he proven it well!

See exactly how he thinks these SOLEs should work in his inspiring TED talk. Bonus: you’ll also hear why Sugata says he probably knows more British Granny’s than anyone else in the world.

Aleph Molinari: Let’s Bridge the Digital Divide!

The digital divide is a mother that’s 45 years old and can’t get a job because she doesn’t know how to use a computer. It’s an immigrant that doesn’t know he can call his family for free. It’s a child that can’t solve his homework because he doesn’t have access to information.

About 5 billion people, or 70% of the world’s population, don’t have access to computers or the internet. That’s not a digital divide. Aleph Molinari says it’s a digital abyss. 

[Tweet “70% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to computers or the internet. #edtech “]

Why does this matter? It means people are less informed, less inspired and less responsible.

So how can we begin to bridge this abyss? Aleph has started the Learning and Innovation Network, a network of community centers that bring education to the community through technology.

According to Aleph, there are four key elements to this approach:

  1. Creating spaces that are welcoming to the community, built on the needs of the people in the community, and based in a strategic location.
  2. Developing connection—not just to the internet, but also an interconnection of humans.
  3. Providing content—technology is nothing without the educational content. We must use it as a means, not an end.
  4. Providing training for the users and the people that will facilitate the learning for them.

Aleph makes sure to point out that technology is not going to save the world. WE ARE. But we are going to use to technology to help us. See more about his vision, including his “acupuncture approach,” in this presentation.

Daphne Koller: What We’re Learning from Online Education

Daphne Koller, along with Andrew Ng, founded Coursera to offer “the best courses from the best instructors at the best universities and provide them to to students around the world for free.”

Over a million students have now taken Coursera courses.

An unexpected result of this educational endeavor is the wealth of learning data pouring out of Coursera’s online programs. In addition to outlining the key components of successful online programs, Daphne discusses the tremendous opportunities afforded by this unique data:

  • Data-driven study of human learning. This completely unprecedented look into student learning allows us to turn the study of human learning from hypothesis-driven mode to data-driven mode. We can now answer fundamental questions like: what are effective learning strategies and what are not? In the context of particular courses, what are the most common misconceptions and how can we help students fix them?
  • Opportunity for personalization. We can’t afford to provide every human with an individual tutor (like Bloom illustrated as the ideal with the 2 Sigma Problem), but maybe we can afford to provide everyone with a computer or a smartphone. Then, using an online platform, personalized through data, we can continue to push toward Bloom’s ideal, improving educational outcomes.

[Tweet “Data from millions of @Coursera students transform study of learning. #edtech @motivislearning”]

Check out how Daphne frames the need for more educational access and how technology and data can get us there in her TED talk.

Your Favorites?

What are your favorite education TED talks? Share away in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *