TED Conversations

Kyra Gaunt

Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Assoc.Professor, Kyraocity Works


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How does the status quo design of student - faculty interactions diminish innovation in the classroom? How to hack higher ed?

This Live Conversation with TED Fellow Kyra Gaunt will open on June 15th, 1pm EDT.
Note: Conversation has been extended until June 17th.

There are many TED talks about innovation in education, but most focuses on K-12 education. There are also amazing talks about breaking the code on our relationship to work, to learning, and to our application of knowledge (aka wisdom).

Students call me Professor G. I am a professor of anthropology, ethnomusicology and racism studies. I am also a 2009 TED Fellow. My students in cultural anthropology are interested in engaging the TED community in a conversation around how to hack the design of the higher ed classroom where emerging adults and their supposed mentors, if a design was scalable, could truly become the consumers of their own productivity as students.

My aim as a professor is to help students realize they are great students, great citizens and great human beings NOW not after graduation.

To truly explore this question, we need diverse perspectives and we intend to discover the power of extending the classroom beyond its four walls with a weekly TED conversation around a question related to hacking the higher ed classroom.

What if the classroom interactions were designed for sustainability, for curiosity, and for innovating thinking? What would we talk about? What could we talk about? And wouldn't we talk about anymore?

Consider grading (but we do need so way to measure accurate thinking). Consider the power dynamics of the student-teacher conversation around grades, assignments, and dialogue. And consider the role of the repositories of knowledge and experience that often goes unnoticed, the students themselves.

Do we need textbooks anymore? Would Google and the students' experience be enough in an anthropology or social science course? #justaskin

Also consider issues of ethnic and gender representation relative to issues of power and training emerging adults to be leaders in a globalizing world.


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  • Jun 17 2012: To entirely explore this question, I divide this topic into two parts. The first part is reformation of the classroom design, and the second part is innovation of teaching.

    The classroom is a space for student to learn, to meet, to think. U-shape is one of the ideal classrooms that gives student a lot of inspires and emphasize the position of teacher/professor simultaneously. Student can discuss with each other face to face, and teacher is more freely to move and help them.

    I am taking professor Gaunt’s Anthropology class this summer, and she is the most understanding, creative and friendly professor I’ve ever met. She is trying to encourage student to be the consumer of their own productivity by saying that “Hello, great ones” in the beginning of every class. It really helps students to have good start of a day and value themselves. On the other side, I like this small classroom for a summer course, and we did a lot of communications during class. Without doubt, it is the best way to meet new people and expand our social network. I had a lot of class which professor only focused on lecture, so I did know anyone after finished the whole semester. Prof G. uses Facebook, email and other NetTools to keep in touch with student, and she said she prefers student to text massage to her, so she can respond us as soon as possible. According to my personally experience, there are only few professors/teachers would like students to disrupt their private lives. Therefore, I can say professor Gaunt is the unique! She really cares about student, not only their grade but also their future!

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