Julian's blog: TED session 10: Who’s The Teacher?

July 17th, 2010
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Sugata Mitra, Education researcher

This was a wonderful TED talk from a charming, funny and brilliant man with a great heart. Children learn to use computers on their, given space (and no teacher) – anywhere in the world. Arthur C Clarke: “Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine, should be.” Groups of children (ideally pods of 3-4 on each computer) can learn without being taught to navigate the Internet and achieve defined educational objectives. Sugata shows many inspiring examples of this in India, the UK and Italy. He is setting up SOLEs (self organising learning environments) around the world, with a Granny Cloud (!!!) because he’s found that children learn especially well when they can check in with a granny figure. There aqre hundreds of grannies connecting virtually with children all over the world – wonderful stuff that rewards both ends of the link! He should run the world’s educational systems IMHO!
Conrad Wolfram, Mathematician
We must change the teaching of mathematics. Why do we obsess about grinding children into tedium by teaching only the boring bit (computation) when they will never use it in life – we have machines for that. The interest bits are formulating the right question, turning it into a mathematical formulation, and then interpreting the results. Computation is a necessary evil, not the ‘basics’. Do you need to understand mechanics to drive a car well? Teach children to feel the mathematics. The first country to do this well will have a big advantage.

 

Tom Chatfield, Gaming Theorist
We can learn lessons from computer game design that we can apply in many areas of life. For example, game designers are brilliant at motivation through exactly the right mix of risk and reward – make a game too easy and people are bored, too hard they give up. Some transferable technologies: performance bars, multiple long/short term goals, rewards for effort (as well as for achievement), rapid frequent and clear feedback, an element of uncertainty, bursts of enhanced attention, peer cooperation in self-created groups.

 

Chris Anderson, TED curator
We are in a period of crowd accelerated innovation, courtesy mainly of YouTube. 90% of the world’s Internet traffic will be video – the most natural form of communication between human beings, as it combines sound (voice), gesture and facial expression, as well as showing action. Groups of expert learners are forming and sharing and setting new standards in all sorts of activities, from skateboarding and unicycling to dance and poetry. TED is part of this, spreading ideas faster in video that text ever could. we had a revolution with Gutenberg, and this is just as big, possibly even bigger as the whole population become net contributors instead of passive consumers. Absolutely Chris – and it’s strangely satisfying to see him go through what so many TED talkers have!

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