I love TED Talks. I find them to be absolutely inspirational, educational, and motivational every time I am able to carve out 30 minutes (usually once a week), and simply immerse myself in these dialogues and discussions with some of the most creative thought-leaders in the world.
The first time I learned about TED was in Teacher’s College when I was searching for high quality educational resources that embrace new ways of thinking, technology integration, and critical thought. The first, and most powerful, TED Talk that I have seen to this day is Sir Ken Robinson’s incredibly popular (more than 28 million views on the TED website) discussion on “How schools kill creativity” (2006). The key themes around nurturing students to explore, discover, and experiment as opposed to conform, drill, and memorize resonated deeply with my values in education and forever changed my perspective.
Fast forward 8 years, and educational technology has become a central element in all forms of education. Social media has grown exponentially and has become ubiquitous; educators are actively embracing new technologies, and some of the fastest growing demographics to adopt these technologies are our elderly. The #Socialnomics 2014 video below by Erik Qualman does a wonderful job summarizing this revolution.
Let’s make this a bit more real-world. I count myself incredibly fortunate to be a faculty member at one of the most innovative colleges in North America. As of this September (2014), we have had the single largest roll-out of any Canadian postsecondary institution in educational technology and electronic textbooks (e-textbooks). Our students are paying less, accessing more, interacting with learning content, reducing the physical strain on their bodies, and have all of their textbooks available to them on their phone (and up to 3 other devices). They own the e-textbook. They can print it. They can keep it (beyond trial or semester dates). And in case that was not enough, the e-textbook will read to you. That’s right – it reads to you. This not only enhances the learning experience for students, but also reduces the barriers and increases accessibility for a host of other students who may not have been able to fully participate or engage with the more traditional delivery techniques used in the past.
The bottom line for me is that the pace at which technology has evolved in the field of education is incredible. Back in 2006, I did not think that the pace of change would have been what it has been. I’ve never been happier to be wrong 🙂