Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You've Got TED Videos All Wrong

You guys have it all wrong. TED is about learning, but it’s not about learning in the way you’re thinking. It’s not about cool resources to use in your classroom. TED videos are the final product, they are the assessment. The TED video is the portfolio piece. It is an assessment of the presenter you are watching. The real power in a TED video is not the message we often are enamored with or our envious admiration of the presenter’s presentation style. Those are just characteristics of the assessment, the final product. The real power of a TED video is discovering the learning that took place to allow that student/presenter to create the presentation in the first place. What “instruction” worked for this learner/presenter? What “strategies” worked well for his or her teachers? Could they be modified, tweaked, adapted for other learning situations? The list that you generate will result in content that is much more valuable than the content the presenter is sharing in the video.

Okay, let’s test this out. Let’s randomly select a TED talk that has grabbed our attention. Then let’s do a little research on the presenter, maybe even interviewing them to see what it was that interested in this topic. What schools did they go to? Where did they grow up? What did their parents do? Etc. etc. We don’t have to be overly obvious with our interview questions, as we want to see which things in the presenters past were influential. What experiences stick in their mind? What lessons (good or bad) do they remember? Which adults were influential in their lives, and why? How far back in time do we go? How recent do we reach? What would be some good questions? Ultimately creating a dossier of influences that resulted in the TED video.

The hypothesis is that those stories that the presenter shares with us via the interview, and the research we discover about their past work, will lead us to determining what this individual’s teachers were effective in teaching them. Furthermore, the individual’s teachers do not have to fit the stereotypical definition. The “teachers” of their story could be any influential individual, group, or inanimate object.

Next, after evaluating a series of these portfolio pieces, what are the similarities? Are there any outliers, unique experiences? Or, do the collection of learning experiences/influences boil down to a common list when comparing TED presenters with the most hits? Any surprises? Or just what you expected even without the assessment?