"TED-ifying" Schools

"TED-ifying" Schools

There's a new article of mine online at the Harvard Education Letter you might want to check out, about "TED-ifying" school. Basically, it describes how TED Talks, once limited to individual classroom use, have spread to libraries, schoolwide events, and even (in at least one case) whole-district endeavors.

I didn't come across any Chicago examples, but a handful of schools are putting on full-fledged TEDx events.  Many more are participating in TEDxYouth events, which are more kid-focused.  A larger group still are taking some or all of the TED Talks format and using them for end-of-semester exhibition or culminating activity assignments, and finding that kids respond to the TED brand and the notion of doing something like innovators and experts in the real world also do.  TED Talks is also promoting various school-focused clubs and activities for teachers and students.

Do you or your school use any TED Talks elements, and if so what's the experience been?  The talks themselves can be light, and have definitely been overhyped online and in the media.  That's Bill Gates, giving a TED Talk.  He also sponsored an ed-related TED Talks TV broadcast that received mixed reviews.  But perhaps the process and format can be useful, too.



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  • You-tubing of education. It's a thing. Seems to be working out.

  • Is this the innovation Bill Gates is talking about? Videos of lectures? A surefire way to put students to sleep. Is there anyone more boring than Gates? Not sure how this relates to the Common Core.

  • What I do know is that for my two kids, both recently graduated from CPS high schools, learning the material was not dependent on the proficiency of the teacher. Learning was done in the classroom or if that wasn't helpful enough then the usual on-line resources were used. Since much of that stuff lives on Youtube, yes, part of their education was Youtubed. This was true more so in the sciences and math.

  • I think it is important that Alexander explain to his Chicago readers a little bit more about Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California that his article references in relation to the TED talks program. This high school has a poverty rate of only 15.9%, even Payton HS one of our most elite public high schools has 30.6% low income students. A single family home valued at $1 million in Pala Alto pays about $25,000 a year in property taxes, starter homes come with budget-friendly price tags almost do not exist in Palo Alto. It’s tough to find a single family home under the million dollar mark. Mark Zuckerberg bought four homes for $30 million, one of which sold for $14 million, near his own $7 million estate in Palo Alto, Calif.

    So Gunn has an outstanding high school with 95.9% of the graduating class go on to attend college, with 80.2% going to four-year colleges. The average SAT score for Gunn seniors was 1942 for the Class of 2010.] Gunn has one of the highest average SAT scores for public high schools in the United States. Gunn also has many students who are selected as National Merit Semifinalists – 43 in 2007, 44 in 2008, 31 in 2009, 42 in 2010, 30 in 2011, and 36 in 2012. In addition, 50 students received a National Merit letter of commendation in 2007, 50 in 2008, 60 in 2009, 68 in 2010 and 74 in 2011. Usually 25% of the Gunn senior class receives one of these two National Merit honors.

    So let’s be fair here Alexander, these kids are so academically strong and wealthy they have the time and energy to organize large TED talks events.

    Rod Estvan

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