TEDActive Projects Education
The TEDActive Education Project will explore how children can make an impact on the education system. We hope to come out of this project with fresh ideas for ways kids can start an education revolution. Join the conversation »
Education Project news from the TEDActive Blog:
21 March 2011
Imagine a classroom where content from every possible discipline is explored. Where diverse individuals have dozens of entry points to inspiration. Where the teachers present the most relevant, compelling material – with the invitation to take action.
Sound familiar? TED’s learning environment not only nurtures “ideas worth spreading” – it enables a diverse crowd to take ownership of this mission. Just as teachers utilize TED talks to engage students, the collective identity of TED can be used to empower them.
There is no “textbook” answer on how to empower students. The question itself is an invitation to explore how the full spectrum of contributors can get involved – teachers, students, and communities in every corner of the world.
The learning environment at TED takes us on a journey from inspiration to action. The result is transferable; the product is a collective identity. Darren, Trent and I sought to define a process through this lens:
Inspiration. Students need to learn how to dream, to discover the breadth of possibilities that exist and the way forward. This is not just the realm of teachers, mentors, and experts, but of the community as well.
John Hunter’s World Peace Game provides students a venue to delve into real-world problems, realizing the depth of challenges they will face in their lives and how they will need to work together to solve them.
Choice. Decisions are a fundamental component of life. Students need to understand their identity and feel safe making mistakes. They should be able to learn and grow without fear.
The Khan Academy enables students to discover at their own pace – creating a virtual classroom that supports learning inside and outside of the classroom.
Action. Choice begets action. If a student has the confidence to create change in the world, they are empowered. This intersection of teachers and students creates an environment for action.
TED Prize winner, José Antonio Abreu, has inspired millions of students to have dreams – providing them a voice through the orchestra. His program, El Sistema, uses music as a vehicle for social action. Maestro Abreu inspires participants to give back – to teach and spread the message.
Gustavo Dudamel, Maestro Abreu’s most famous student, did just that. In 2007, Gustavo became the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With this appointment, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) was born – the adaptation of El Sistema in Los Angeles. Today, hundreds of students participate in YOLA from communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access to music education and its social benefits.
Our education system is in an identity crisis – a cycle of educational-poverty in our schools. We have a responsibility to support our schools, to inspire our students and support their choices. We need to allow students to create their own identity – as individuals, classes, schools, and communities. This sets them free from other pressures.
How? Each community has relevant problems to solve and classrooms that could connect to solve them. What if you identified a community need and engaged a local classroom or school to solve it? What if you introduced a new game or resource to a classroom teacher?
The next generation of innovators is sitting in classrooms right now.
18 March 2011
Check out this great re-cap of the TEDActiveEDU group through the eyes of Stacy Weitzner (seen above), our visual thinker that was brought in by redu to help the education project team bring together their ideas for action on the same board. More pics of Stacy’s handiwork can be seen after the jump >>
03 March 2011
Over the past few days I have been listening to amazing TED speakers hour after hour as they discussed the broad topics that TED so wonderfully curates for us. After each thoughtful presentation it has been great to see how it was received through the audience’s reaction. Some presenters over the past couple of days moved us to our feet immediately and others only received a sitting clap of acknowledgment.
The standing ovation is the original test of crowd wisdom. The audience reaction (and soon the online reaction) seems like a good predictor for which ideas at TED will stick and have a lasting impact on large scale. When others in a crowd stand with me to applaud an idea then I believe the presentation touched a nerve within us all- it spoke to a deep common need for understanding or a solution we were all looking for. Once it is evident that the presentation addressed a common concern then the people who have the resources will see it clearly and will do what they can to support the cause. And as we have seen from many TED talks the idea will spread like a wildfire, people will rally and support the cause and the talk will have had a huge positive impact.
Yesterday, Salman Khan’s work on how to improve education touched a common nerve and brought everyone to their feet. It is common for people to believe that education needs an overhaul, that our current methods need a refresh and that the technology of today can play a huge role in making better instructional decisions. He shared how his program can make a difference one classroom at a time, through self guided lessons and plenty of data for teachers to make decisions. It brought me to my feet because we have been doing work to get this “real time data” through manual grading and google docs over the past three years and I immediately saw how his work would save us hundreds of hours of time and help us make better decisions faster. I assume others saw that as well. He touched a nerve in all of us and I am excited for the future of Khan Academy. Then, this made me think about how we can empower our students to change education in a similar way.
What if there is a way where students can present to us a solution to a current challenge in education that can potentially touch a common nerve in us all and cause us to rise to our feet in approval and call us to action? What if there is a student who speaks about their insights into online bullying and how they plan to overcome it? What if that speech touches a nerve and gets 1M “likes”, the online version of a standing ovation? Imagine how that can impact the decisions made by educators and students across this country?
It hit me last night that TED empowers us all to listen to the best thinking out there and make our own decisions about what ideas are worth supporting. That is a forum we should provide for our students so they have a voice in education reform. Maybe we should curate the best students around the world who can articulate a challenge and their solution or thoughts around that challenge in an online forum. I can only imagine the topics students will talk about and how that will give us insight into the decisions we make a educators, school leaders, parents, policy makers and anyone who works with youth. Maybe they will give us insight in to their social dynamics, how race plays a role in their learning, how relationships affect their attention into the classroom, how not having enough food to eat affects their learning…it could go on and on and I can’t wait to see who gets the online version of the standing ovation. As a school leader I will definitely pay attention to the online reactions and will be ready to take action.
02 March 2011
As we work to converge to “an idea worth spreading” we are still determining the unit of change that will have a long-lasting impact in improving education. Many of us in the group believe that education needs to be improved but we question at what level should we attack this problem. Should we address it at a student, teacher, principal, district or systemic level? We know we need to empower somebody or something in this process to make a change but who should be our target? Once we figure out our entry point then we need to match the resources we have at TED to make this change stick so when we reunite one year from now we can see incremental change from how students are learning today to an ideal we have yet to define.
As a social entrepreneur I have been given a blank slate to create both after school programs (L.A. and Boston) and a high school (Chicago) from scratch but something at a systematic level has made me create programs that look more like the status quo than towards an ideal model. We acknowledge in our group there are many great pockets of successful schools that empower students to have an impact in their own education. But if there are pockets of success at empowering students in various places then why has it been so hard to replicate at scale? This is definitely something worth looking into more deeply. I think Sir Ken Robinson did a great job of this in his highly viewed TED talk and perhaps we could investigate this further in the future. For example, for my high school to be defined as successful we need our students to do well on the ACT and get high percentages of our students to very selective colleges. To make this happen our students need to learn certain skill sets through a predetermined set of classes that colleges across the country observes as “core classes”. The definition of success imposed on us by standardized test scores and college admission requirements make any kind of change at a systematic level too challenging to solve at 10pm meetings, after 2-3 hours of socializing, and 10 hours of mind-blowing conversations– so we moved onto an easier target. Thinking of a solution within this system makes me feel like we are Tom Cruise in the movie “The Firm” and we see that it is too hard to challenge the system so we need to look for ways out without changing systemic issues.
We spent most of our time in two camps who believe that our group (and the newly introduced TED-ED) can influence change through the empowerment at either the teacher or student level. At the teacher level, we can empower teachers to move from a more traditional direct instruction model of teaching to a more student centered, non directive or group investigation approach. This is a subtle shift that can be made within the system. To do this we discussed how we can gather TED and TED-like content that would serve as our hook or source of inspiration for our students to actively engage in the learning process. We would also supplement each video with instructional materials and general directions to guide instructors through the non-directive approach of instruction based off of inspiring content. It makes sense to me that we are offering this as a solution because there is no doubt that we are thinking at high levels in discussions with other TED participants after each session. I think the hard work comes in developing the skills and thought processes of synthesis and evaluation that now comes naturally to us now into 14 – 18 year young adults or even younger students.
Starting the empowerment process at the teacher level, through empowering teachers to shift their instruction to a more non-directive approach, could go a long way to sustainably empowering students to impact education without challenging the current systematic constraints. If teachers make this subtle shift then students will have more of a say in what they learn, how fast they learn and how they can express their newly acquired knowledge or thought processes in formats that are most meaningful to them. This isn’t a revolutionary concept but it has the simplicity of many great reforms or revolutions.
This is where we are at and I know that our group may be frustrated by either the lack of ambition or scale but as Tom Cruise states at the end of The Firm, as he needed to find a way out of a system without changing it, “it’s not sexy but it has teeth.”
Looking forward to our continued work today.
02 March 2011
While we have a late-night meeting for our education group still to come, it’s been a fascinating day two–one of the highlights being the announcement of a TED ED program, leaving us all excited to see what and how that will evolve.
Day one for the education project group here at TEDActive didn’t feel as productive as I think many had hoped, but I thought it was a brilliant start. While we had a hard time getting centered on the question we were offered at the start–”How do we empower kids to impact education?”–I think our need to grappled with core questions about education is reflective of a larger need to hold conversations about education. Just as we dug deeply into assumptions and ideas about teaching and learning, I sense a growing and widespread need for us to do so in our own cultures and communities.
The conversation that we had yesterday in our small group about education represents one of the *great* conversations of the ages. This conversation is critical right now for two reasons:
1. The Internet and social media are actually changing our information world dramatically enough, like the printing press did, that teaching and learning are actually going to change.
2. The Internet and social media are also changing who has voice in conversations and narrative-building, especially where institutions has previously been able to control the message (of course, the Middle East right now, but also Wisconsin, or the students in California and immigration). We are going to need to construct new stories or narratives about teaching and learning, and those stories will no longer come from the top, nor should they.
(There is a fascinating delicate balance to this narrative piece. The temptation is to promote the student voice in changing education. I agree. And I also believe that we have to do so in a way that doesn’t abdicate the adult responsibility to provide structure for that energy, and that allows students to focus first on engagement in their own education.)
So, about building conversations and narratives. We tend to view education from the standpoint of “outputs,” but in truth education is about the “process.” In the same way that we believe in Democracy as a process, where the value is in participation as much as the ultimate resolution, I would argue that we need to find a way to respect eduction in a similar fashion. For me, that starts not with drawing conclusions for others, but in helping provide the opportunity/platforms for the same kind conversations, at as local a level as possible.
The power and passion of the TED network seem uniquely placed to help encourage these conversations all over the world. At the same time, it’s also important to recognize that the conversation about teaching and learning is not a new one, and there are many deep and thoughtful voices who have addressed education over the last decades, even centuries. We need to figure out how to bring these voices and ideas together with the passion and power of the TED network to a broad audience.
In a meeting this morning around one of the pool-side firepits, I think we made some progress in thinking, and that an idea is brewing. More to come.
01 March 2011
The idea of bringing together a group of TEDsters to think and design the first baby steps in a student led revolution of the classroom, the teaching environment full stop is exciting. Yet, the whole idea is all a bit daunting as well. The question that I keep returning to is:
Where to start? And, how do I get into the frame of mind to start thinking about an education revolution?
One of the first things I did was take a look at redu, the group that is behind the video on the Education Project page. This is a great start but it sent me back to the TED Talk about Tinker School and then that great talk by Clifford Stoll.
We need to get the kids tinkering! An approach to this project should not only consider the challenge in terms of our collective knowledge, but it should also ignite the passion for participation of the students we are seeking to empower. It is fine that we talk but we need begin with some radical ideas that get the student, the kid excited. FastCompany has a great piece in this months edition called 13 Radical Ideas for “How to spend $100 million to really save education.”
For this TEDActive Education project, maybe we need to begin thinking like kids?
I am going to poll the kids in my son’s classes and ask them, in Twitter format, to tell me what they would change/add/eliminate/do different in their school if they were going to make it the ultimate place to get the tools to do amazing things! What if we all find a handful of students K through 12 and ask them what would make them love school and see what we get? Maybe that will help to get us all thinking.
How do you start? Kids are all around us, start talking to them.
You can begin the process by talking with your children, the children of your friends, the kids on a sports team, that teacher you know and maybe even a bowling team.
Start with one kid, ask them to ask their friends and listen to what they are saying.
Write the ideas down, no matter how far fetched, and bring them to TEDActive.
Is this scientific research? No.
But in 60 seconds you can learn a whole lot about how our children might change education to make it work, listen hard.
Our job is to create that tool to follow the roadmap.
01 March 2011
It may seem a little crazy to present an orange sweater to talk about what I hope for the TEDActive Education workshop, but well, it’s the first day and here we go…
I made the sweater above from four different sweaters the day before coming to TEDActive, each with its own history and different owner (I found them all at a thrift store). Through washing, drying, slicing and piecing them together, they became this orange,blue, gray and purple tunic, an eclectic, one-of-a-kind garment that can’t be bought or mass-produced. I had a basic pattern in mind that I had to chuck out the window when I actually sat down to work with the materials.
When I think about education, and what Bing hopes to do here at TEDActive with our education workshop, the sweater reminds me of a few things … there will be a diversity of ideas, a patchwork if you will, that must be presented and unified or we will never gain momentum to solve education’s problems. We may be reworking old ideas, much as elements of the older sweaters had strong value, but we may also be working toward a completely unexpected, ad hoc notion (the new “upcycled” sweater”) that can’t be figured out ahead of time. Some of the upcycled sweater’s stitching was automated (serger machine), some had to be fudged and reinforced by hand — and that may be true for the educational system too. Technology is a powerful classroom tool, but there’s also no subsitute for the guiding hand of a great teacher. Machines and humans are both key to learning in our modern age.
Also, my hodgepodge wool creation reminds me that a society with a good education system (whatever that system may evolve to be) like an upcycled sweater is a protection – against the chilly desert night, against getting too set in my ways (wool is a STRETCHY thing), against an unthinking lack of resourcefulness. If this orange sweater falls apart, I can stitch a new one with what I learned from making this one. Experience matters, trying matters, and innovating matters if we want to make a future different from what we have today. And it feels so much better if you have a hand in making that future, yourself.
I look forward to seeing what the great brains at the education workshop produce over the next few days, and to the future we will all make together. Live it vivid!
01 March 2011
Fixing, even revolutionizing, education is not a new idea.
Every one of us has gone through the education process, some may even still be engaged in it, so why are we so clueless when it comes to bringing about meaningful, effective, sustainable change?
For a start, maybe we should focus locally and stop thinking in broad, abstract, global terms.
Unfortunately there is no magic solution, or one-size-fits-all formula to facilitate education reform, but there are hints to guide us as to how we might start thinking about radical education change.
A few hints to thinking about radical education change:
1. Global is great but we need to think in terms of micro-level implementation at individual schools.
2. It’s great to come up with grandiose plans but they must be easy to implement.
3. Teachers are VERY busy — so if change can’t be implemented without any investment of time on their part it will never happen.
4. The student/consumer has to be at the center of an idea.
Increasingly I am beginning to think that for education change to happen it has to be simple and user focused.
14 February 2011
TEDActive is so excited to have PSFK on board as a collaborator for the TEDActive Projects! They have invited their friends to explore, collaborate and act on vital issues raised at TED, and is actively engaging their expert network, the PurpleList, to give their valuable input for the different teams involved with the projects.
Their experts have already joined in on the conversation! Check out their feedback for the following projects!
09 February 2011
So, there are 26 of us itching to start an education revolution from the ground up. The problem, of course, is that you and I are anything but close to the ground.
I had a wonderful conversation with a group of primary school and high school students that totally opened my eyes. Think of the conversation I had as a bit of preliminary research on staging an education revolution. The predominant thread throughout the conversation was engagement and ownership. Students are sitting in neat rows in neat rooms and they are being taught by a teacher at the front of the class.
What are students thinking about while the teacher is droning on?
2. mobile phones
So what if there was a way to link music, mobile phones, and games to engagement and ownership in the classroom?
That got me thinking about smart (and not so smart) phone apps, karaoke, social media and remixes. We cannot throw out what is being taught in the classroom just yet but maybe we can add to it with a little personal engagement and a lot of ownership!
Do you have any examples of ways that music, mobile phone, or games can be used to build engagement with students in the classroom?