Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some of Ted Talks' Best: Round 1

So I recently contacted faculty to find out what are some of their favorite TED Talks. For those unfamiliar with TED, get ready to be blown away and inspired. TED is where the cutting edge meets the open public. It's a regular conference (and many mini-conferences) that take place wherein people deliver a presentation based upon their most recent and powerful research. Some have equated them to Randy Pausch's famous Last Lecture or the lecture of your life, and there's much truth to how these talks can inspire, motivate, and make us think. This is why they are great for the classroom. Coming in at 5-18 minutes long, each talk can serve as a springboar for discussion, debate, and paradigm change within a vast array of disciplines.  Most recently, TED has recently released  its TED-Ed platform, an easy-to-use toolbox for instructors to flip their classroom with TED Talks (or any Youtube video).

So in our first round, we have four different faculty here at North Shore Community College, sharing what they find to be some of the most inspiring and useful TED Talks that they've come across--either for their own experience or their inclass-usage.

Aimee Mullins: My Legs Give Me Super Powers
Laurie Carlson (English): "She talks about prosthetic limbs as an enhancement rather than a deficiency. The video deals with disability, feminism, and body image, all of which I feel are important topics and ideas for our students to be aware of and grapple with."

Bill Gates: Innovating to Zero
Barbara Ikalainen(Green Initiative Coordinator, Environmental Studies): "I show this to my Environmental Science students to promote a discussion on how to meet our future energy needs. He is referencing a new nuclear technology (nuclear fusion, not nuclear fission). It's not that I'm a proponent, but he brings up all the evidence of global climate change and he is actively looking for a solution. The dilemma that he poses is the difficulty of the democratic process towards technology and changing public opinion and how solutions to climate change will necessitate working with countries unfriendly to the USA."

Niall Ferguson: The 6 killer apps of prosperity
Kara Kaufman (History): "This TED Talk is a great counterpoint to the book Origins of the Modern World, by Robert Marks that I assign in World History II. Marks and Ferguson are examples of a debate within world history scholarship regarding the role of the West in the past 500 years. Marks takes a non-Eurocentric perspective while Ferguson's point of view is Eurocentric. The TED talk is also useful in that it is not a book. In other words, students are already reading most of Marks' book, so I like that TED  delivers excellent information in an alternative, entertaining format."

Amy Purdy: Living Beyond Limits
Dawne Spangler (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; Math): "Purdy discusses her journey adapting to (and maximizing) life after losing her legs. Really interesting. (For example: now she gets to be as tall as she wants to be - depending on the prosthetics she chooses!). Inspiring and Uplifiting!"

Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
Dawne Spangler (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; Math): "Grandin explains the "thinking in pictures" that comes with her autism, and describes how that has influenced how her career in engineering. An Interesting Contrast!"

Hans Rosling: Stats that reshape your world-view
Dawne Spangler (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; Math): "Rosling demonstrates world trends, using interactive statistical charts - with moving bubbles and colored snakes to describe things like the relationship between GNP and longevity! Colorful, Fun and Easy to Understand!"

Tavi Gevinson: A teen just trying to figure it out
Dawne Spangler (Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; Math): "A high school sophomore, Gevinson discusses her (plural) e-zines and her publishing success. Fun and Encouraging!"

We'll be posting more soon, but in the meantime, what are your favorite TED Talks?