robert richards

Adult Education, learning facilitator, PolyTechnic Institute of Tasmania

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Using TED.com as an organic supercomputer think tank, instead of hooking up networks of personal computers.

Something is broken in western scholastic lesson delivery (I speak of western schooling because it is all I know). Maybe it’s the “factory” type delivery, the “you must fit into this box” scenario. Maybe it’s the system itself. The important thing is the curriculum implementers are aware of the problem but have been unable to offer a viable solution. Ted.com with all its great think tank contributors should be able to help. This could be the first of many such great projects. Would such an undertaking or one like it, require absolute focus of the entire collective? If yes, is such focus even possible?

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    Aug 26 2011: Good morning, Robert,
    this is my first week on TED as a member. Out of what I have seen, I was right now about to initiate a very similar topic!
    When I read your idea, I thought that it would be better try an approximation than to iniciate another topic without consideration to what has been done before. Most of things we write here don´t strictly obbey the academic rules (citation etc), but maybe is this "disobedience" which allows increasing interaction of human knowledge coming from the most different sources...
    It is a common place to say that internet has many revolutionary possibilities, but is very interesting to LIVE this possibility...
    I wonder that around the world, in many places there is a site like this, in which people discuss very interesting things! Maybe if we applyed the rules of academic thinking to phenomen of "the spread of virtual discussions", we should be lead to do a cathalogue of them... But the appetite to building catalogs has its limitations, and here reality (internet included) is always some steps further (or even later) academy!
    Maybe I could open another "Idea", "Question" or "Debate" topic, proposing that some staff (maybe one of this very site) might analyse, sum up, publish or anyhow implement the ideas discussed here.
    This may encompass difficulties, and untill now there is no job like "Ted Analyst" (someone tell me if I am wrong)...
    The thing that I propose is that, if users of sites such as this one don´t elect someone to read the material posted, many good things would be lost.
    One should argue that time and energy spent here (embedded on thinking, typing etc) will not be lost if they are just a tiny part of what everybody does in its "real life".
    However, if there was a deliberate effort towards summing up innovative ideas, a great source of good things would be avaiable to human kind...
    I know that the problem of humanity rests not upon the lack of ideas, but on the lack of will to make them real.
    Anyway...
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      Aug 27 2011: Rogerio, thank you for your reply and I agree. I too may be missing some tracking mechanism of these threads and I appologize if I am. I think in essence you and I are on the same page. The topic I used to start this particular thread while important is not exclusive to it I welcome any other worthwhile idea and in fact dont mind if a different (special think tank )thread is started to carry on the framework. It would be interesting to see what such bright minds could accomplish with intense focus on one problem at a time. Everyone please comment.
  • Sep 6 2011: Hi Robert,

    It seems that there is a movement afoot here in which lessons are learned on the internet, while in the classrrom, students do what was traditionally thought of as homework. The teacher seldom offers a lesson unless it is remedial, and is there to watch students do their assignments or help if they get stuck. This is particulalry well suited to mathematics, in which a huge reserve of lessons are available on YouTube.

    I think I would favor a global infrastructure for education, health, food, and shelter. I know people that are building houses 4 times as big as the ones in which they raised their children, while others sleep in cardboard boxes.
  • Aug 31 2011: Hi Robert,

    You have provided some input to my conversation, it is only fair that I contribute to yours.

    My experience is that there are many learning styles (no surprise to you I am sure) so I could almost see curricula developed by learning style (probably expensive...but that is just a detail right now.) It seems we are bogged down in the classroom model, a style not right for everyone, perhaps not even for most.

    Undergraduates at Oxford are subjected to the classroom model, but are divided immediately into study groups each lead by an advisor. Although the students are expected to learn 39 subjects from 39 teachers, the advisor is expected to be able to help any member of his or her group on ANY subject. The focus is learning how to learn, not learning a "trade." This model is well suited to me, and would perhaps be helpful beyond the classroom model.

    I know you are dealing with a tough problem, one of my best friends spent years managing the development of curricula. good luck...Don
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      Sep 6 2011: Thank you Don, I really do appreciate your ideas and input. The Oxford model sounds very promising as it cuts the delivery to individuals significantly and the delivery sounds very focussed. Very good steps but I wonder if maturity as a student is an important factor in its success. I also agree with your assessment of the financial burden carried by very small group delivery. Another solution to my mind would be to offload the personalization of delivery to technology. That is Ai facilitators. I realise this is a very futuristic view but are we really that far away from the technology? I suppose I should refine my proposition by stating that perhaps we need to start putting in place the grassroots infrastructure needed for such a resource. Such as, extremely fast and (economically feasible) broadband for education… everywhere, not just the cities and not just in the western societies. Globally connected education/learning centres would improve mankind’s immediate and long term future I would think. It could also help your disproportional distribution of wealth idea. Maybe a global infrastructure/education organization should be initiated and funded by the UN?