5 Fantastic TED Talks About Technology

Posted on Dec 27 2013 - 10:04am by Adam


TED Talks are the greatest free resource of the 21st century: a series of online presentations designed to do what the internet was always meant to do – deliver specialist knowledge… to everyone. Across some 1,500 videos, there are talks on everything from living to 1000 to how to fold a paper towel correctly and everything in between. But perhaps where TED still excels best is in delivering talks on education and technology. As a child of Silicon Valley in the 1980s, TED has an understandable bias towards these sorts of talks, and it’s easy to see why. Featuring geniuses and luminaries spinning some of the best lectures ever filmed, these talks on technology and education have the power to change your life…

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud

Imagine a school that exists only as a fairy tale; a world of learning perched high atop a distant cloud that nurtures and protects young talent across a subcontinent. In this dizzying talk by Sugata Mitra, that vision becomes a tantalising reality. Essentially an inspirational plea, this twenty minute video explains Mitra’s idea for ‘Cloud Schools’ – cyber cafes where kids voluntarily connect with retired teachers thousands of miles away (‘Grannies’) to collaborate on quirky scientific projects. It sounds almost humdrum in black and white, but the force of Mitra’s conviction will have you convinced he’s sitting on a worldwide teaching revolution that will make us not only smarter, but happier too. [Visit]

Mae Jemison: Teach arts and sciences together

Are art and science really so different? Are tech and, say, sculpture courses incompatible? Is one inherently better than the other? Most of us would probably answer ‘yes’ to all three – especially if we went to a mixed university where the art and science crowd routinely mocked one another. But Mae Jemison has a different idea. The former NASA astronaut thinks we should be focusing on building brilliant minds instead of splitting subjects apart; and she’s got a convincing argument to prove it, one that could make us all more intellectually-rounded human beings. [Visit]

Taylor Wilson: Yup, I built a nuclear fusion reactor

Recorded when he was only 17, Taylor Wilson’s 3-minute talk only indirectly concerns education. But it does show what’s possible outside the rigid world of the school system. At the age of 14, Wilson constructed a working fusion reactor in his garage in Arkansas. This micro talk is his take on this achievement, and a powerful rallying cry for young outsiders bored senseless by the rote-learning of modern education. [Visit]

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers

Hush, say it quietly but: maths is kind of boring. Thanks to the impenetrable world of long division and working out by hand, almost all children fall asleep at the idea of learning with numbers… and Conrad Wolfram is determined to change all that. In this video, he argues that the way we teach maths has no bearing on how it’s used in real life – and that we should be getting kids to program computers and learn by inspiring themselves. Like so much on TED, it champions the idea of a world that lets children learn, rather than forcing it on them. And, like so much on TED, his argument for a world of inspiration is deeply inspiring in its own right. [Visit]

Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

The Khan Academy is like TED on steroids: a vast online curriculum that can teach you everything about maths from a beginner to an extremely advanced level. In this talk, founder Salman Khan calls for the strategic use of video and the internet to create a world where kids willingly learn at home and teachers become support workers instead of the guardians of knowledge. It’s a practical meshing of both technology and education, and the conclusions he draws are almost impossible to argue with. [Visit]

About the Author

Adam works with Home Leisure Direct, the UK’s premier games room specialist. In April 2013 we were chosen as the Reader's Choice at the ECMOD Direct Commerce Award.