TED Conversations

Amy Peach

Director of Instructional Technology, Fontbonne University, St Louis, MO USA


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If you had one year to prepare to apply for an invitation to TED, what would you do?

As many of us know, those who are invited to TED events usually have an impressive resume coupled with natural enthusiasm and excitement for learning. If you had one year to pursue new opportunities that would give you the best chance to earn that invitation, what would you do? I'm curious to see how everyone's respective disciplines prepare for something like this.


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  • Oct 16 2013: I think I distribute more positive energy with my TED question responses than I could in planned activities designed to win an invitation. If a professional takes their job seriously, tries to share knowledge, project a positive energy, and perhaps advance the discipline they have chosen, they are promoting a healthy learning environment. I'd say that is also a good start.

    Perhaps you are speaking of an invitation to speak?

    Gee, for that I think you might need to have shown a body of work that promoted learning, impacted many people, or highlighted some unique aspect of learning that could change the way education and learning are viewed.
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      Oct 16 2013: I would agree about the conversation threads, Robert. I decided to post this for a couple of reasons. When I looked at the registration form, I found it interesting that it asked for websites or other promotional materials to display what you do. What I've found in academia is that there seem to be two types of professionals advancing work in their fields. The first spends all of his/her time researching, talking, and teaching for the benefit of students. The other spends about 80% of his/her time doing this and 20% promoting those activities. Up to this point, I've been the former. I don't think I realized this until I saw that form. While many of us here at Fontbonne have done some fantastic things, we're often too busy to promote it. However, promoting it is an important piece that shouldn't be overlooked.

      As I started looking over the projects I had for the last couple of years and those planned for next year, thinking about what I could do before applying helped me narrow my focus and set firm deadlines. While I completely agree that being great at what you do is important, (and I agree with Fritzie that an invitation should be just a nice bonus) it doesn't always get you exposure to the kinds of people one could really learn from. If hard work and innovation alone were enough, the registration form would never ask for access to information that helps promote what you do.

      As for speaking, that would be a LONG way off for me personally :) I've been a fan of the talks for quite some time, but I'd like to know a little more about the attendees as well.
      • Oct 16 2013: Amy,

        I understand a bit better now. So lets think of some ideas to help achieve your goal.

        Many schools have a marketing department or consultant that helps bring students into their schools. Perhaps you could appeal to the administration to get this group to help promote the work you are doing at your school without taking away from the work you are doing with your students.

        Perhaps you might sponsor a competition among your students and ask the questions: What do we do here at Fontbonne that makes us different from other schools?' This sort of data would interest the marketing people anyway, and the administrators, so perhaps part of the marketing plan could be to give the teachers/professors involved in these activities the kind of local and national publicity that might catch the eye of a TED invitation folks.

        Another way you may gain some attention is to take on a bit of professional risk by trying something like the Khan method or some other learning method described by one or more of the TED conversations. This would be sort of a working application, then you could report/write on its effectiveness relative to the techniques you have already found to work, or perhaps a pure Socratic method of some kind.

        Perhaps you make a project in one of your classes where the kids have to learn the material and then present it in a way that inspires people, spins positive energy, or captures curiosity. Then pick the ones that are the best and send them into TED for review. Perhaps you and the students get invited to an event.

        I think the events are open, so maybe you could appeal to a parent's association, alumni group, or business that supports a particular learning style that your attendance might be good field research that you could effectively bring back to the school in some manner.

        If I were a teacher, I think this is how I might go about getting to a TED.

        Do TED events need volunteers? That might be another way to get there!

        Good Luck!
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          Oct 16 2013: LOVE these ideas, Robert! I'm not really much of one for self-promotion so I think that's why this sort of thing doesn't come naturally to me. However, I'll do just about anything to get students involved in any kind of active learning. As teachers we sell all the time (you've never tried a hard sell until you convince 17 year olds that understanding the New Deal is important :) You would think we'd be better at selling what we do or why our institutions are worthwhile. Thanks very much for the feedback. TED invite or not, these are all important things to think about.

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