Awesome Free Ed Tech Resources eBook!

  • Nearly 200 Free Applications and hundreds of resources to help you get the most out of them!
  • Tools for interactive collaboration, gamification, OER, mobile learning, & so much more!
  • YOURS FREE just for signing up for blog posts!

Sign Up Now


8 Great TED Talks About The Future Of Education And Teaching

by Kelly Walsh on June 12, 2011


These talks offer insights, concerns, and inspiration while discussing today’s educational practices and shortcomings, from a variety of perspectives.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”, bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. If you’re not already a fan of TED, maybe these will open your eyes to this wonderful resource.

Education is only one of the vast array of topics covered in TED talks, so if you enjoy any of the videos below, you might want to click through the the site and check out some more of them.

Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms
This delightfully illustrated video entertains while educating. The video does a wonderful job of explaining how today’s factory-like education model is outmoded and how it needs to evolve into a more personalized model if we are going to take it to a new level. [This video is featured below. Frustratingly, the sound cuts off in the last 30 seconds of the video.]

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education
This video discusses “The Hole In The Wall” experiment that Mitra started in New Delhi in 1999. Children deprived of learning opportunities available in other parts of the world nevertheless figured out the computer at their disposal and started using it to learn and to teach each other. These results repeated themselves as the experiment was conducted in various other locales. Kids can and will teach kids. How can we take advantage of this to improve on education across the world?

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers
Math as it’s taught in classrooms rarely echoes math as it used in the real word. Wolfram (the driving force behind the Wolfram-Alpha “knowledge engine”) suggests that we consider changing the math teaching model, to teach kids to conceptualize problems and use computerized tools to apply solutions, as opposed to the present model of spending inordinate amounts of time teaching how to perform calculations “by hand”. He methodically addresses many misperceived ideas behind today’s approach to math education.

Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together
The notion put forth here is that the Arts and Sciences are and should be integrated in education – they are absolutely connected, but we do not teach that way. There seems to be a stigma surrounding the idea of creativity and logic existing in the same space. How can we overcome and suppress this limiting notion? (In my personal experience, I love both disciplines and find they go together brilliantly, but that people are often surprised by that idea).

Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums
Leadbeater explains that the vast majority of population growth in the next three decades will occur in poor, crowded cities, and that we need to reach kids in these situations if we are going to educate the majority of the world’s young. In this video, many examples of innovative approaches to teaching in these circumstances are offered. Leadebeater notes that, “you have to engage people before you can teach them” (sounds familiar, doesn’t it!). In these challenging environments, a “pull” approach is necessary in order to succeed (versus the forced “push” approach used in richer nations). Education only works if it is motivating and inspiring in these situations, and the approaches being used offer many new ideas that can be leveraged in schools everywhere to improve the educational process.

Arthur Benjamin’s formula for changing math education
In this brief video, Benjamin makes the bold suggestion that the culmination of math learning should be statistics and probability, not calculus. “The mathematics of games and gambling” can not only be fun to learn, it is far more practical and relevant to our daily lives. (To watch a pretty fascinating demonstration of “mathemagic” from Benjamin click here).

Bill Gates on mosquitos, malaria and education
In the second half of this video, Bill Gates provides ideas about measuring successful teaching and using this data to enable improvements in educational processes.

Let’s use video to reinvent education: Salman Khan
In this video, Khan explains his popular and impactful work with Khan Academy (check out this recent post for more on the Khan Academy).

Do you have a favorite TED talk that’s not listed here? Please tell us about it!



Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

Print This Post Print This Post

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise-Amelie July 7, 2016 at 5:15 am

I would like to inform you of my recent TedX Talk about the use of Technology in Education:

I hope that would be of some interest to you.


Elizabeth Boese May 23, 2015 at 5:17 pm

I love Sir Ken’s talks, very inspiring. I gave a TEDx talk “The Internet Has Killed Education as We Know It” ( ) and I DO have over 10 years of teaching experience. I think we do need to change the educational process – the students are demanding it!

Steve January 16, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Sir Ken has NO experience in the classroom. None. None at all.
Neither does Bill Gates. None. Charles Ledbetter ‘s use of the word “slums” illuminates the fake class-war in his head. What can the “haves” learn from the “have-nots”? Seriously? And is Charles a teacher? Does he know what to do in front of a classroom? No, he doesn’t. Charles Ledbetter is not a teacher. So why are these men talking about education? What right do they have informing the public on something they do not engage-in professionally?
Seems to me that these Ted Talks are mostly an outlet for useless Technocrats to demonstrate their personal cluelessness.

Jon Ellis June 3, 2012 at 2:43 am

The Ken Robinson TED talk is one of the best I have ever watched. He is such an engaging speaker.

Michael @ iTutorMaths January 31, 2012 at 4:53 am

Great round-up here and great comments! Love Arthur Benjamin’s talk :)

Kyle July 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Nice round up! Another classic is Ken Robinson’s first talk on How Schools Kill Creativity:

Dan Pontefract July 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

Not sure if TEDx Talks count, but thought I’d share one I did last year entitled “Mr. Classroomachev, Tear Down This Wall”.;search:pontefract

Neville Barnard June 22, 2011 at 12:20 am

Have to agree with Scott Thomas – Dan Meyer deserves a listing. I’m not a fan of the Khan Academy so I’d delete Salaman Khan.

Mark Davis June 21, 2011 at 10:50 am
Frank Noschese June 21, 2011 at 8:34 am

Replace Sal Khan with Dan Meyer’s “Math Math class needs a makeover”

Then add Shawn Cornally and Dr. Tae to make it a Top 10 list:

Shawn Cornally’s “The Future of Education Without Coercion”

Dr. Tae’s “Can Skateboarding Save Our Schools?”

Scott Thomas June 21, 2011 at 8:08 am
Kyle Meador June 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Check out Sam Chaltain’s “The Freedom to Learn”.

Marsha June 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Please add Zoe Weil’s talk, “The World Becomes What You Teach”:

Patti Grayson June 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Please add Will Richardson’s TED talk to your list!

Leave a Comment

{ 118 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: