Lee Frankel-Goldwater

Educator, Writer, and Media Designer, New York University Steinhardt School of Education, Culture, and Human Development


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A college level course using TED as the driver for discussion, research, and learning.

For some time I've had the though of creating a college level class based on TED Talks. The essence would be to look at different realms of innovation around the globe, the impact of open social media, and the role good story telling plays in communicating ideas.

Final projects could include creating your own TED talk and having a small TEDxEvent in the university. This could likely get a lot of support from local media and truly highlight some of the amazing work going on by students in universities around the world.

1. Is there anything like this going on already?
2. What could it entail and how could it be used to create more collaboration between departments?
3. Is there anybody interested in developing such a course for their university?

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    Aug 18 2012: Hello Lee,

    Great strand you've started! I love that you're thinking in terms of a class and that you've elegantly tied together existing initiatives that so many people are involved in.

    Some info....
    TED-Ed, in concert with the other TED initiatives, is actively positioning itself to implement some of the ideas that you've brought up. Though TED-Ed is in BETA now, and focused on building and aggregating content, you will see quite a few features added over the coming year that will hopefully be helpful should you decide to implement your idea.

    So, keep the great ideas coming, and watch the TED-Ed space ( http://ed.ted.com/ ) for tools that might prove useful as you continue to build on this one!
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    Jul 26 2012: Why not a high school level course? None of the talks that I have heard are too difficult for high school students of around age sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen.
    High school has a broad reach, embracing students who intend to go to college and those who don't. It is a misconception that only college-focused students care about big ideas. Consideration of the wide world of ideas out there is perhaps most important for students in those formative years.
    Colleges already have specialists across fields, including practitioners who either teach there or visit the campus to give lectures or teach courses. High schools do not have this depth at their finger tips and those who have left school no longer have such ready access except through distance learning.
    I know many college courses assign TED talks here and there that fit in with the other materials that are assigned that go into the issues of the course in depth.
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      Jul 27 2012: Completely agreed. The form would look different, but the greater amount of classroom exposure time that HS has would be valuable and also perfect for engaging the current generation of media saturated youth.
    • Aug 19 2012: Why not younger students as well? Being currently a highschool student myself, my English teacher uses talks to better explain the subject or topic at hand. Learning from the experience of others, and or researches and ideas help us, as in the students, wrap our heads around the concepts and see them from an experienced viewpoint. This method works on students that are a lot younger than the original audience it was aimed at, because these young people see the ideas from a more mature standpoint and they are presented with real world topics/knowledge/questions/ideas etc. Although I was already aware of the talks before they were used in our classroom, they really give a better understanding on the subject they are applied to. That's one of the benefits of being 14 :-) there's so much out there to learn and soooo much room to grow
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    Jul 26 2012: Suggestion: Think outside the box of Academia...whether US/elsewhere

    Consider: The massive global event...of folks eager to learn English,.
    But...many-many study strenuously with text-books/grammar-books/dictionaries, but they do not learn well.
    They do not actually ACQUIRE the language (Krashen)...as in the difference between taking a written test on swimming/bicycle riding...and...doing the actual process. Krashen emphasizes that what learners need is...COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT..."real messages of real interest."

    TED Talks can help...especially via the development of a global WIKI-nomics network of Mass Collaboration/Peer Production...learners doing user-friendly Audio Editing (such as with audacity.com), for their OWN training for their OWN listening comprehension levels (Krashen's i+1 Process). Globally, there can be millions of learners for whom such individualized PBL (Project-based Learning) will be well-suited to their OWN particular levels..for bringing them to the next level of Listening Comprehension (I+1) Perhaps these value-added audio materials could become micro-enterprise peer-collaboration projects...with TED's consent/support.

    There's significant research demonstrating that, for the vast majority of folks, Oral Fluency can only come via Audio Input...Not Printed Word, but the Spoken Word, with its subtle energetics/harmonics et. Ascher's Total Physical Response emphasizes that "brain-switching" is essential for Oral Fluency...switching from the left-brain dominated approaches, to right-brain dominance...which is in harmony with Jill Bolte Taylor's TED Talk.

    Chris Anderson emphasized the ORAL-ity of TED Talks.

    Consider the difference between (1) actor/politician memorizing speech written by writer, and
    (2) TED speaker-with-a-cause, presenting with sincerity/passion/hope, with voice resonating with energy/power...SATYAGRAHA.

    Consider:China's nation-wide not-yet-networked grassroots English Corners, at public parks and on campuses
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      Jul 27 2012: These points are quite significant. The initial idea came from a distaste for the current state of education. I do just wish everyone would use these amazing tools and collaborate more, but one step at a time, yes? You point about China is amazing. I do wonder what the "feel" is of the digital commons in China given a very different gov structure from what I'm used to.
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    Jul 24 2012: I hope this becomes a reality in South Africa.
    TED is an educational institution that has contributed immensely to the propagation of good ideas, in fact, great ideas. TED has been a platform for insightful debates; and an avenue for asking questions and subjecting our answers to scrutiny.

    This sort of training programme may not neccessarily be like the convention higher institution programme. One Saturday every month throughout the years of study should be enough.

    There would be sessions of watching TED talks and sessions of discussing the talk.
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    Aug 19 2012: Hi all:

    I'm a faculty at the National University of Singapore, School of Computing. I've been asked to teach an advanced Human Computer Interaction (HCI) course this semester, and plan to use many more videos as the basis for class lecture and starting conversations about lecture topics.

    Since HCI overlaps with (interaction) design, I'll be using a number of the design talks in class, and for starters in our first week (it's still the first week of class now) we watch Salman Khan's update about the Khan Academy (http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html) as a starting point to talk about the future of education and about evaluation methodologies.

    I hope to use both Coursera (Scott Klemmer's HCI class) and TED as platforms where students in the class can engage the global community and get a chance to interact with folks much more (or less!) experienced than themselves.

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    Jul 21 2012: of course! Have been using TEDTalks for the past two years in my rhetoric, oral communication, and even ethics classes! Truly inspires discussion and creativity... and students adore it! they usually go back home and ask for more! They've even critiqued transcripts of TEDTalks!
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      Jul 23 2012: That is amazing! Have you documented this? Have you shared it with the TED people? The pitfalls and the promises? I think a TED class would be amazing! How about an entire TED study abroad program connecting to the fellows and partners around the world! That is the dream. Possible?
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        Jul 24 2012: That would be a freaking amazing and achievable idea!
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    Jul 20 2012: Kyra Gaunt, a TED Fellow teaching anthropology at Baruch College-CUNY, hosted a conversation in mid-June about reforming the higher education classroom. She uses TED talks a great deal in her courses and takes a particular interest in use of the internet for sources in lieu of work published offline.

    If you search on this site for "higher education reform," you may find excellent ideas for course design involving TED.
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      Jul 20 2012: Thank you very much. This is wonderful to know, I am based in NYC and would love to learn more about contacts and partners working towards this goal. Please keep me posted with other thoughts.
  • Aug 3 2012: I've been in a couple of graduate courses where one of the biggest drivers of discussion were TED lectures, usually shared by me and the teacher(s) actually liked them enough to sometimes spend at least a week or two on a single talk. As for the idea of coupling a class with a TEDxEvent, that's a bit of a new one. But as for having a college or graduate level course that uses at least the TED videos for discussion, research and learning, sometimes it's just up to the instructors or the students to start introducing stuff like that to class.
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    Aug 2 2012: What is your work? Is this something you're interested in implementing?
  • Aug 2 2012: I think TED is an awesome website for almoast all people regardless their age.
    Many of my friends have a great interest as I do. Most of the afternoon, we
    spend time debating on google+ and describing own ideas about the talk we watched.
    I am curios about developing the idea to make or create a collabration of departments.
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    Aug 2 2012: I teach a course to undergrads using TED as a weekly discussion video. Specifically TED talks on technology and sociology. The course is a Technological Trends class and it is a great tool to supplement a textbook that can't be updated as often. I think building a course completely off of TED content would be a good writing course for first year students that can reflect on what was presented.
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      Aug 2 2012: I agree TED talks can serve as good writing prompts.
  • Neil C

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    Jul 27 2012: While not identical, I've recently started a study group with two friends, in which each week we take it in turns to choose a TED talk that is appealing. During the week we'll consider the lecture's main idea, perhaps providing other resources that explore similar issues to the rest of the group and consider the merits (or lack thereof) of the presentation. Then, we'll get together for a conference call (we live in different cities) and discuss our findings and thoughts. Again, as there are three of us, the idea is to be pleasantly surprised should another member choose a topic that the rest of the group would not usually consider.
    I'm sorry that this is not exactly what you're asking, but I would like to reaffirm that I completely recognize the value of TED talks as a resource in a university setting as a platform for exploring technological innovation. I'm sure the interest is out there.
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    Jul 27 2012: BIG steps can be made when decisions are individual, by intrinsically-motivated English learners, rather than by academic institutions.TED show DVDs are avalable in China's Pirate DVD shops, with both English and Chinese subtitles. Regarding China: both BJ & Shanghai have TEDx events, no doubt attended by govt. eyes/ears. The concept of the "commons" remains problematic in clannish China. See my 4-minute Video "Bo Yang Meets John Trudell at the Chinese Bus Stop" https://vimeo.com/user9219483/videos
    RE: China and " very different gov structure from what I'm used to".for the East-West divide..it's seems "the 'twain shall meet..." in the CorporateStates
    Here on Bali we'll be developing freeTED Club for learners of English/Indonesian, using the English/Indonesian transcripts.
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    Jul 24 2012: I hope this becomes a reality in South Africa.
    TED is an educational institution that has contributed immensely to the propagation of good ideas, in fact, great ideas. TED has been a platform for insightful debates; and an avenue for asking questions and subjecting our answers to scrutiny.

    This sort of training programme may not neccessarily be like the convention higher institution programme. One Saturday every month throughout the years of study should be enough.
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    Jul 24 2012: 1. Yes, at Georgia Tech, there's a class called Ethics of the information age or something like that for Computer Science majors. It was a very thought-provoking class imo if I didn't skip for other projects to do lol

    2. Having a class based on TedTalks is probably one of the best things that should happen. I think there should be a Freshman level introductory class for every college on this as a required core class that ALL freshman should take. There should be no hw assignments, only pure discussion. Maybe even have a forum of this or something.

    3. I would most certainly be willing to, but I have another agenda that to me is even more important.
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      Jul 26 2012: I agree, but I would certainly have homework be it group project or independent study on advancing a current topic from day 1 lecture/discussion.
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        Jul 26 2012: Alright, sorry, I confused my definition of homework as "graded" assignments. But yeah, I think maybe breaking things down into small groups and having a small discussion about topics and turning it into a homework assignment or mini group project would be pretty cool.
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    Jul 23 2012: Thanks for the vote of confidence :) Having a full blown TED class would be awesome! Honestly, I don't see how it work in our institution, but good luck to anyone who does! in the meantime, though, TED talks continue to enrich whatever we currently teach... as for the question of documentation, I haven't... not officially that is.
  • Jul 20 2012: why not just enjoy TED talks. A university honors program is similiar, but more closed. Enjoy TED As the number of college graduates declines Here is another way to learn. Some american politicians are so hatreful they oppose NPR and PBS. Teh more options for self-learning the better. a great deal of PBS content is BBC Good job Brits. Let's have all the learning options we can havew. Self-learning is exactly what it says.
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      Jul 23 2012: George, this is why with the open revolution we must seek to break the molds holding us back.
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    Jul 20 2012: TED Fellow Nina Tandon and Jessica Green have used TED Conversations in their classroom. You can see all the TEDinClass projects here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/topics/TEDinClass
    Nina Tandon and her students also did a TEDx event at the end of the semester. Nina talks about it in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnrL3-HH_iA

    Let us know if you have questions and interested in TEDinClass. TED Conversations team will be happy to help!

    TED Conversations Team
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      Jul 20 2012: This seems quite amazing. I feel this could be a way to really blow open youth education all around the country. There is so much potential in digital learning and exchange that is not being fully tapped into by most ed organizations. How can we fix this?