Academic Technology @ Palomar College

TED Talks

TED LogoWe are busily preparing for our annual summer tech camp which begins next week.  The detailed agenda is published and now we are going through our materials to be sure we are prepared.  Our tech camps are inspired by TED talks.  If you are not familiar (I suppose this is possible) TED talks are a forum for the world’s brightest people to present their best ideas in 18 minutes or so, more or less.  A speaker stands in front of a largish audience and usually uses PowerPoint, Prezi or some speaker’s aid to present cogent, brief, brilliant ideas.  The whole thing is filmed and the videos are placed on the web for all to see.  What a great idea.

The resemblance to education is obvious, because it IS education, only much more compelling education than we are used to.

We always begin tech camp by watching a TED video, and then professors work over four days to create their own, using the tech tools we present at camp if they wish.  A secondary goal of tech camp is to expose professors to technologies they might not normally consider using in a fun and interesting way.  Just to get them thinking…

One of the most difficult tasks in preparing for tech camp is to select the TED video that we will show on day one.  This year the choice was particularly difficult.  Time is very limited and there are lots of tasks to perform on day one.  I am not going to report on the video(s) chosen, but rather on the ones considered and, unfortunately, rejected because of time constraints.  I encourage all our readers to view them and comment with their own favorites.

Here’s the list of ones we wanted to show but just couldn’t fit in:

Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex — those familiar with Harford’s The Undercover Economist will want to see this one.  Ah, humanity… as Bartleby said.

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity, also Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution.   Here is a brief (1:23) YouTube video taken from one of his TED talks to give you the flavor of Sir Ken’s views:

Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world — unbelievably, mountains are being moved with real dynamite and jack hammers to gain a microsecond edge on the competition.

Jonathan Drori: The beautiful tricks of flowers — one of the most beautiful TED talks available.  It’s all about sex.

Michael Shermer on strange beliefs — Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, and skeptic in chief for the US if not the world.  This talk is a bit older, but still hilarious, especially the Mother Teresa bun.

Sean Carroll: Distant time and the hint of a multiverse — the essential problems of cosmology, and a paean to Ludwig Boltzmann and Richard Feynman, all in a cogent and visually impressive package.

VS Ramachandran: The neurons that shaped civilization — the psycho-physical foundations of empathy.

Gregory Petsko: On the coming neurological epidemic — brief but telling, the down side of longevity.

Elliot Krane: The mystery of chronic pain — my vote for best use of multimedia (well, nearly) in a TED talk.

Mikko Hypponen: Fighting viruses, defending the net — the truly alarming rise of cybercrime, and what we can do about it.

Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days — brief, fun, inspirational, practical.  Give it a try.

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover — the travails and solutions of a remedial math instructor.

I suppose I could go on and on, but this is a sample of the ones we reviewed for tech camp.  I wish we had time to watch them all as a group, but then, we can on the web.  Let me know what you think or if you have other candidates for outstanding TED talks.

4 Responses to “ “TED Talks”

  1. Kalyna says:

    Terry, I haven”t yet seen most of these TED Talks you mentioned, but many of them sound great. They”re going on my list of stuff to watch once I”m done with my summer school grading. I agree that Drori”s talk had really beautiful images. As soon as I watched it, I sent the link to my sister who loves to garden and does volunteer work at an arboretum. One talk not on your list that I found utterly fascinating was Alice Dreger’s “Is anatomy destiny?” http://bit.ly/ilc2yA

    Thanks for taking the time to put out this list!

  2. Terry Gray says:

    Hi Kalyna. I loved the Alice Dreger presentation. I find the diversity of the TED presentations very stimulating. Another I should have included in my list is the Sir Ken Robinson animation on educational reform ( http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html ). Strictly speaking it is not a classic TED talk, but I find it a really compelling presentation melding multimedia, thought and narrative in a manner that is nearly impossible to stop watching.

  3. Cinda Holsombach-Ebner says:

    Hi! I, also, have not seen most of these (but I plan to now); however, I have watched and I loved the Robinson video. I also watched one I highly recommend with John Maeda about creativity and technology, and I posted a quick entry about it with the videos:

    http://cindaleigh.blogspot.com/2011/02/john-maedawhat-interesting-and-creative.html

    Please excuse the state of my blog right now…it”s being restructured.

  4. Kalyna says:

    Terry, I forgot another TED Talk I absolutely loved: Aaron Koblin”s talk titled “Artfully visualizing our humanity.” So stunning and fascinating. http://bit.ly/m7EOZ2

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