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4 TED Talks for Teaching with Tech

By Melanie Foster *

Conrad Wolfram discusses the need to equip students with the knowledge necessary to respond to a more mathematical and quantitative world. But standing in the way of this knowledge is a chasm between need and opportunity. Wolfram explains that many children fail to grasp the larger concepts of mathematics because they spend a majority of their education learning to calculate these numbers by hand.

Responding to a series of frequent arguments against his claim that computers should be used for calculating in the classroom, Conrad develops his own argument for letting the computers do the work so children can learn to apply critical and logical thinking to the real world problems that involve math.

The inquisitive and innovative Sugata Mitra discusses the challenges of educating the children in underprivileged communities of India. Mitra argues that for many schools, technology does not offer enough of an increase in skill to be considered a viable tool. The children at the top, Mitra argues, do not have as far to grow. Instead, Mitra says, technology should be used to serve the most underprivileged of children first, to support learning or even serve as an alternative to primary education that is subpar or non-existent.

In further experiments, Mitra finds that when left alone, children are capable of teaching themselves and their peers, without supervision of guidance. This demonstration of group power wielded by young minds is extremely fascinating. Based on his findings, Mitra presents an overview of what educational technology should achieve.

Salman Khan shares the origins of the now-famous Khan Academy. He discusses the advantages of video lectures and how this tool fits within the flipped classroom model. The lecture explains how the flipped classroom creates a more socialized learning environment in which peers and teachers work together to achieve a higher level of group understanding.

In addition, Khan introduces personalized data that allows educators to track the progress of students over a number of years, supplying a continuity and level of detail that has never before been possible. Khan proposes that traditional classrooms leave behind the one-size-fits-all learning approach to move toward a more personalized method. He also touches upon the potential of global education that is offered through these free videos.

Daphne Koller, former MIT professor and co-founder of Coursera discusses the shortage of global education and how open courses can change the world of learning. One of the leaders in the Mass Open Online Course, or MOOC,  Koller discusses how educational content in the courses was designed specifically for online learning, again breaking away from the one-size fits all curriculum.

She admits that students don't learn from passively watching a video, and demonstrates different methods of interaction, including a peer-grading pipeline methodology and organic developments of learning communities. For teachers, MOOCs are the experimental playgrounds that should be watched for new ideas and methods for incorporating technology.

(*) Melanie Foster is a passionate supporter of global education and a writer for onlinephdprograms.com. In her free time, Melanie enjoys hiking and reading. You can contact Melanie by adding a comment.

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