A Few TED Talks on Education

For the past few days I have been watching a few  TED talks on Education.

I want to share a  couple of my favorites.

Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online — giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks — they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn.

Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free — not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. With Coursera (cofounded by Andrew Ng), each keystroke, quiz, peer-to-peer discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed.

With Coursera, Daphne Koller and co-founder Andrew Ng are bringing courses from top colleges online, free, for anyone who wants to take them

Some observations:
  • I like the approach taken by the self organizing computer course going from fundamental principles (NAND gates) to building a computer, writing an OS, a compiler and a game. It may be worth starting a community just to do that for interested students and enthusiasts.
  • The Coursera talk was fascinating. MOOCs are a popular but also a controversial topic. Daphne, in her talk mentions some of their learning from teaching students online. It was cool to see that there were using machine learning to spot some trends and how they started personalizing certain aspects of the course based on their analysis.
  • I think online learning and learning communities can help existing educational institutions. They do not replace teachers or class room learning, but complement them.
  • Anything that sparks interest or curiosity, help students follow some specific path (even if it is not part of the curriculum) of their own interest will be great tools to improve learning experience.
  • Learning by doing is probably one of the better methods of learning but the existing labs do not seem to fulfill that need.
  • Finally, teachers need help. We need to help teachers use more interesting tools to make learning engaging.
I think some of the autonomous colleges take some of these ideas and adopt them for their own needs or offer them as optional courses to interested students.
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