TED has changed communication – and therefore, education

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This article (link below) offers some quick insights in the ways TED talks have changed how audiences listen to presentations.

Bottom line: nobody is gonna listen to your lame presentation any more. We now know how great it is to crank up TEDtv and watch people explain complex ideas inside 18 minutes. It’s not boring, and the slides (usually) help rather than hinder the talk.

How TED changed business communication forever
(Might require you to log into LinkedIn, since that’s how the link came to me)

I’d like to extend this thought into education:
Boredom is (and always has been) one of the great hindrances to classroom success. Maybe college and grad students are just better than 1st graders at handling boredom (less twitching or raising mayhem in the higher ed context), but sitting through a boring lecture kills the mood for anybody.

I’ve been on the giving end of those boring classes, and it sucks to be the teacher in that spot. For me, it generates feelings of concern (“can I do anything in the moment to make this better?”), which soon become feelings of anxiety if I can’t make the learning environment more engaging. Sometimes the students are the problem — too tired, too unprepared, too apathetic about the subject — but honestly, the fault is usually mine.

Making the class interesting and engaging falls on my shoulders as the instructor, and when I can’t do that well, it feel like a failure. The best remedy is analyzing the class period to find the problem(s) then taking steps to fix/prevent them.

I’m bothered that our classrooms these days are so focused on assessment that teachers have no time to engage. Learning that sticks takes time — lots of it. Perhaps we are distracted by the drive to make education into a business– where efficiency rules — rather than recognizing that humans aren’t widgets and the “one size for all” solutions will always be flawed.

Let me be clear: I’m not blaming teachers for the current state of our public school emphasis on assessment. That was imposed on them by lawmakers who acted in response to their constituents back home. “Accountability” in education is good and necessary; abuse of teachers and leathers in the name of testing and standards and data is exactly that: abuse.

Perhaps it’s time that we constituents sent our congressmen a new message: more local control for districts, less top-down initiatives.

TEDxGreenville is coming up in a few weeks. If you’ve never experienced a TED event, give it a shot in 2014. You’ll meet some great people and some great ideas.

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