TED Conversations

Al Meyers

social enterprenuer, community activist, inventor, artist, peop, AICPA


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What if the TED Community worked together to build the model 21st century learning environment? What would it look like?

The TED Community has some of the most innovative minds in the world. This goes beyond TED-ED. We have digital media experts, researchers, educators, public policy experts, politicians and entrepreneurs. The community has all of the tools and resources in it to become the ultimate disruptive innovator in education. What about adding a new type of fellow: a TED-ED Fellow, and have them work together on a project to design a new learning environment, and one that can be scalable. Then take the "idea" and use the financial resources of TED to turn it into an "idea worth doing."

The model would need to account for teacher training, compensation and evaluation; curriculum standards, learning pedagogy, and funding sources, to name a few factors that need to be accounted for.

I believe there's no better brain trust in the world to tackle this project than an open-source TED collaboration.


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    Jun 9 2011: Thanks to everyone who has commented to date. Some great examples here. I am very familiar with Katie Salen's "Quest to Learn" initiative in NYC. She is a colleague of mine. While I am a believer in using game-based learning in the classroom, I believe that video games is only one of many digital elements that needs to be threaded into the learning environment. I'm a big fan of "blended learning," and what is most critical is that a new "model school" design can be crafted by this community that is scalable. That's the current challenge facing education reform in the United States.

    And to address one of the comments herein, the focus of this "idea" is K-12. The formative years provide the foundation for everything else.

    Regarding Gina's questions about barriers in other countries, I suggest you read the whitepaper I alluded to previously. The difference is that in the leading countries (Singapore, Finland, Korea, etc.), they have made education a top priority and created a flexible architecture with which to work with. We have had a very static model for hundreds of years.

    More on this soon. Keep the comments coming.

    And to Albert's point about risking children's futures, I think anything we do is far superior to what they're getting now. The key is to create a model, research its progress, and then replicate the success. In this way, you could even deploy this "disruptively," which is the name of the game. If you take on the establishment head on, you will fail every time.
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      Jun 10 2011: I agree that the current challenge is scalability. I think this requires thinking about training on the 'teachers' end of things, and the rest of the people that make up the schools infrastructure, which is something that has only recently come to my attention. Good food for thought!

      Blended learning does seem to be the way to go here, mixing not only academic subjects, but also emotional and social learning. It's a major shift to our normal, categorization-focused approach, and will take some work to re-orient the thinking of the staff of such a school. I think one key thing is to treat children as capable and intelligent, with ideas worth listening to, not just kids who will sit there and learn what one has to say. Not having a system with right and wrong answers, and with set grades, etc, with a focus on book-academic-intelligence is a big change too, but I think it's the way to go as well. It requires teachers to be really engaged: they can't just phone it in with a lesson plan from 4 years ago, instead they have to actively engage and be engaged by the students, constantly adapting to the children around them.

      Also, I totally agree that our system stinks and anything we do will be better; that fear is not my own, but one I suspect some parents will have. However, I have seen that there are enough parents who agree with our view to make these 'new schools' work. And once others see their success, any fear will be dissuaded. Oh, and 'disruptive' deployment is almost certainly the way to go. Of course, as we have said, he problem is replicating the success...

      Finally, I'm sure many of you ave seen it, but this RSAnimate, based on a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, was, and still is, a major inspiration for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

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