YouTube may be a rabbit-hole of clickable memes and fun compilations, but it’s also home to some essential watching for teachers and parents looking to understand not only key EdTech trends, but also the nuances of current K12 and higher education debates.

After hours of digging into the video platform, here are the very best videos on the future of education I could find:

Designing a university for the new millennium

Astronomer and astrophysics professor, Dr. David Helfand, speaks at TEDx West Vancouver about his many years’ experience teaching in higher education — and has some insightful, and oftentimes pithy, comments to make. One memorable discussion with a first-year student included the remarkably revealing phrase: “I’m paying for a degree, not for an education.”

Dr Helfand’s irreverent tour through the modern-day campus masks a more serious intent and opinion: universities require radical redesign if they are going to serve the interests and needs of today’s society. Using his experience as one of the designers of the groundbreaking Quest University model, Dr. Helfand goes on to define what he believes a university designed for the next millennium should be like.

Changing Education Paradigms

As the most watched speaker in TED’s history, Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity has been viewed online over 40 million times and seen by an estimated 350 million people in 160 countries. His collaboration with the RSA Animate series, describing how educational paradigms need to shift is a lucid, and infinitely interesting 12 minute video.

I additionally recommend surfing through the other RSA Animate videos that cover a range of salient topics in refreshing and entertaining ways.

Neuroscience, AI and the Future of Education

When Scott Bolland was born, doctors told his mother that he would have serious, and life-long, developmental and learning difficulties. However, after scraping into university with the lowest permissible grade, he went on to a grade point average in the top 1% of the total student population, and gained his PhD in Cognitive Science in the process.

Intrigued by the contrast between his latent academic potential and lackluster school results, Dr. Bolland has made it his life’s mission to try and define the mismatch between how we learn, and how we are taught in school. On the basis that we are all “learning creatures”, and have an innate delight in learning, Dr. Bollard gives concrete and illuminating examples of how simple changes could make the world of difference to millions of disengaged students.

Inspiring Students of the Future

Joe Ruhl has been described as “a teachers teacher”. In this 17 minute talk Mr. Ruhl describes his experiences at the coal-face of education, and describes how over the years he has allowed his students to change the kind of teacher he is.

Using recognizable anecdotes, well-founded assumptions, hard research and many years of experience Mr. Ruhl’s talk is at once a deeply inspiring and highly pragmatic approach to connecting with the students of today and tomorrow.

The Future of Education

While Sanjay Sharma is the vice-president of MIT’s Open University, he is first and foremost an engineer, specializing in RFID technology among other things. This makes his perspectives on education, the skills gap and the future of work particularly interesting — as he is not technically an educator.

His constructivist recap of current learning models, and how they are not being fully or swiftly applied to classrooms and colleges is a whistle-stop tour through current cognitive science. While Professor Sharma has a slightly slanted view of what should be learned in terms of content (e.g. STEM and coding) this no-nonsense talk cuts to the quick of many educational debates, and is well worth 15 minutes of your time.


Read more: Practical applications of Constructivism in the online classroom


Closing thoughts

Today’s post may be short, I hope however that the quality of the content and ideas you find at the suggested links more than makes up for the deficit. I’d love to hear about your five favorite videos. Please share the links in the comments below. Till next time.

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