Google Hangout + TED Talks = CONNECT

Jun 8, 2012 by

The catch phrase / motto / vision of TEDx is “Share. Connect. Act”

We hold these TEDx events all over the world, so I’d say we’re pretty good at sharing. The TEDx Action Team is working on some “recipes” for making action easier (and I’ve written about my own idea for Turning Ideas into Action). So, I’d say that the next thing to do is recreate the awesome “liquid network” that we experienced at the TEDxSummit on a year-round basis – to find a way to cultivate connections of people around ideas.

Imagine this world … You go to to watch a new video. Next to “Play” there’s a new button: CONNECT

When you go to TED to watch a video, you’d get the option to watch with others, to CONNECT. (click on image to enlarge)

When you click on “Connect” you get placed in a waiting area in Google Hangout.

Now you’re in Google Hangout, waiting for your fellow “Connect” viewers to arrive. (click on image to enlarge)

Once a few others from the queue get added to your “Hangout” the video begins. Viewing as a group means you can see the reactions of others and make comments as you watch.

Now watch the video with others and see their reactions. (click on image to enlarge)

And when the video is over, you can have a conversation about it with those other viewers from all over the world.

And then have a conversation about the TED video you’ve just watched. (click on image to enlarge)

As our conversations around ideas begin to include those people with very different perspectives, maybe we’ll all learn to respect and value the beliefs, cultures, and values of others.

Well, I can imagine it, I wonder if someone at TED can build it?

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Copyright Math

Mar 20, 2012 by

This is a short TED Talk by Rob Reid (The $8 billion iPad) that tries to infuse a little “reasonability test” into our blind belief in the numbers provided by those with self-interest … in this case, the music/entertainment industry.


There are several examples that you could turn into signed number addition or subtraction problems.  In my favorite example (about 2:57 in the video), Reid uses what he calls “Copyright Math” to “prove” that by their own calculations, the job losses in the movie industry that came with the Internet must have resulted in a negative number of people employed.

Here’s the word problem I’d write:

In 1998, prior to the rapid adoption of the Internet, the U.S. Motion Picture and Video Industry employed 270,000 people (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Today, the movie industry claims that 373,000 jobs have been lost due to the Internet.

[Prealgebra] There are many ways to interpret this claim.  If all these jobs were all lost in 1999, how many people would have been left in the motion picture industry in 1999?  If the 373,000 jobs were spread out over the last 14 years, then on average, how many jobs were lost each year? Using this new “annual job-loss” figure and no industry growth, how many jobs would have been left in 1999? Can you think of other ways the quoted figures could be interpreted?  Use the Internet to see if you can find out how many people are employed in the motion picture industry today.  [Prealgebra]

[Intermediate Algebra] If the job market for the motion picture and video industry grew by 2% every year (without the Internet “loss” figures), how many people would be employed in 2012 in the combined movie/music industries?  How many jobs would have been created between 1998 and 2012 at the 2% growth rate?  If the job market grew by 5% every year (without the Internet “loss” figures), how many people would be employed in 2012 in the combined movie/music industries?  How many jobs would be created between 1998 and 2012 at the 5% growth rate?


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Teaching Math Without Words

Oct 19, 2011 by

I’ve been following this MIND Research Institute math platform for a while now … looks like it has really come into its own in the last year or two.  So your students have poor reading skills?  Maybe this is what we should use.

Teaching Math Without Words, A Visual Approach to Learning Math from the MIND Research Institute from TEDxOrangeCoast

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Failure is a NORMAL Part of Learning

Sep 24, 2011 by

“Dr. Tae is a skateboarder, videographer, scientist, and teacher. Contrasting his observations of his own learning while skateboarding with the reality that is the current education system, Dr. Tae provides some insight as to how we might better educate in the future.” (from the YouTube description of this great TEDxEastsidePrep video called Can Skateboarding Save Our Schools?)

Some observations.  As Dr. Tae says, “Failure is Normal.” Period. You might try to solve a proof or a mathematics problems many times before you succeed at doing it correctly.  You will only learn the correct process by making mistakes.  I’d venture that more is learned from making the mistakes than by doing the problem correctly.  Every mistake branch tells you valuable information – this is something that didn’t work.  Huh.

This week I told my Calculus students that “division by zero” no longer means the problem can’t be done.  It just means “try another way.”  This is an incredibly hard lesson to learn.  Many learners are too quick to just give up when they encounter something that doesn’t work.

“Nobody knows ahead of time how long it takes anyone to learn anything.” – Dr. Tae

I agree. And yet, here we have the so-called modern education system, where 1 credit hour equals 15 weeks of one hour in class time and 2 hours of out-of-class time.  We predict, several times a year, that it will take 3 credits or 4 credits for every student to learn the topics that are covered in a course.  On top of that, we are starting to be held accountable if students aren’t successful enough.  If we don’t know ahead of time how long it takes any student to learn a body of knowledge, then why do we keep pretending we do?

Some time last year, I wrote down this quote in my Moleskein notebook, and I’ve been running back across it ever since:

“Grades are simply a measure of the speed at which a student learns.”  – Unknown source

If a learner manages to become competent at an average level during the period of learning (semester or quarter), they get a C.  If they manage to become expert, then they get an A.   I think there’s an argument to be made that learning math should be more about mastery, like skateboarding.  Either you “land the trick” (problem, concept, proof) or you don’t.  Any assigned grade in between just leads to problems down the road.  For example, “average” understanding of algebra and trigonometry leads to a pretty poor understanding of Calculus.

Another point from the video, “Learning is not fun.”  I would revise that slightly. The process of learning is not fun.  The process of learning is work.  The moment when you finally master a technique or synthesize an idea is fun, and it continues to be fun up until the point where it just becomes boring.

[Thanks to David Wiggins for pointing me to this great video.]

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