Category Archives: TED Talks

Try something new for 30 days…

Happy New Year!

How do you feel about 2014? Do you feel excited and positive or cautious and anxious? In January, people often make New Years resolutions about themselves, something they may wish to change, or the desire to start a new hobby or course (You may wish to try a new course on or or perhaps give up a bad habit (smoking, watching rubbish TV, or even cutting down on facebook time)

Last week in project, our students gave great presentations on their hopes and predictions for the new year 2014.There were a diverse and very interesting range of topics from Electoral Referendum in Catalonia, Swiss unemployment, Climate Change, Social Media and Kuwait. Some students also spoke about their personal hopes and predictions for 2014.

Whatever you may wish for and are looking forward to for 2014,we hope you have a great year ahead.

Click on the image below and listen to a really interesting Ted Talk on about trying something new for 30 days.What will you try?

Becoming great requires time and effort

I am always interested to read new articles about how to deliver engaging presentations. There are still too many occasions when we all have to sit through life-sapping talks given by people who have either spent too little time planning, or given too little thought to their audience.

Good presenters learn their craft, put in the time to become experts, plus continue to learn and improve. Some of the best ways to do this are to accept advice and watch other speakers.With the availability online now of TED Talks, for example, there is no excuse for not knowing what a good talk looks, sounds and feels like.

Click on the image below for some more top tips and think about which ones you use already and which ones you could start to work with.

Time and Effort


Into the Valley

As regular readers will know I am a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson and his views on education. I share his opinion that much of what happens harks back the Victorian era, the need to produce a large-scale workforce with skills specific to those times and in keeping with the resources available in that period of history.

When I found out he had spoken again recently at TED, I was keen to hear what he had to say. I was not disappointed…

Please click on the image below to listen to his presentation. There are no comprehension questions –  just listen and think about what he has to say.

Into the Valley

Life’s a game

How do you deal with mundane tasks? Do you avoid them or do you just get on and complete them? Or, like many people, do you put them off until the last-minute?

What about if the task became part of a game? A game that you enjoyed playing so that the task disappeared and was completed by playing the game. A game with rules, but one where you make choices and you are in control.

Does that sound good?

More and more businesses are looking to engage with people using these techniques. This is not to manipulate or force people to do things they don’t want to do, but instead it is to engage people and make life more fun.

You can see a brilliant example by clicking here for SuperBetter and if you join, tell me and I will connect with you as an ally (you will see what I mean).

Also, by clicking on the picture below you can listen to a TED Talk by the founder of SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal. What do you think about making tasks more fun – is it important or should we just accept that some things aren’t enjoyable in themselves or require self-discipline?

What are the benefits of making tasks more engaging for students or employees?

© Jon Helgason | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Sixes up wallpaper

Because it’s there…

What makes you do, or want to do, a job well?

Is it all about the money? Is it the fear of failure or being reprimanded? Is it about the satisfaction of completing a task or challenge? What other reasons can you suggest?

Motivation is an interesting topic and motivated employees and students are far more likely to a) enjoy life and b) be productive, aren’t they?

Click on the image below to listen to Dan Ariely talking about this and try to answer these questions:

What does mountaineering tell us about motivation and happiness?

What is the IKEA effect?

How does Kart Marx’s view of pin manufacture differ from Adam Smith’s?

Mountain Lake
Mountain Lake (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I can’t save money, because I speak English

I read an interesting article recently on how the language we speak can affect the way we think and view the world. Some of the examples included the aboriginal sense of space and direction, the Spanish and Japanese use of passive tenses that result in avoiding direct blame, and how different languages deal with colours in a variety of ways.

One of the most interesting ideas for me was the proposal that Chinese speakers are better at saving money, because of the way their language deals with the future compared to English.

What do you think? Can a language really have that type of impact?

Click on the image below to listen to Keith Chen talking about this.


If you want something done…

How many times have I posted about happiness? To save you time I think the answer is three times, by the way. Strangely on two of those occasions, John Lennon was mentioned, not that I think of him as the epitome of happiness…

Happy Talk looked at the relative scores of individual countries and Happiness is a warm gun gave us 10 ways to be happier ( the title is a Beatles song).  There was also Graham Hill’s TED Talk – Less is more.

In Bristol we even have a happiness map!

So what makes a person happy? Click on the link below to read an interesting article on this topic. Do you agree with the writer?

Clock on Steeple of Old New England Church

Head in the clouds or on cloud nine?

For those of you following TED 2013, you probably already know that the $1 million award has been given to Sugata Mitra to develop his groundbreaking plans in education.

This interests me greatly as I sincerely believe we still, by and large, look to create clones to do the tasks we did and our parents before us and their parents before them. Many of us grew up in a world where information  was provided by the teacher, a textbook and perhaps a visit to the local library for the really ambitious. The mark of success was to demonstrate the ability to receive a set of facts, memorise them and then regurgitate them on demand. Do we really need to test our memory like this (apart from pub quizzes), when we can find out all the information online in seconds?

We cannot even imagine the jobs that future generations will have, so we certainly can’t equip them with the precise skills they might require. As Sir Ken Robinson said in one of his TED talks we squander the talents of our children too easily. We have also discussed before that the pass the test mentality is outmoded and we need to be providing students with the life skills to contribute to society. These plans must be a step in the right direction, although the project at the moment seems to be with very poor, rural children. Will the same process work for affluent kids that already have their own iPad?

Click on the image below to read more about the school in the clouds and how we can all participate in the creation of SOLEs (read the article to find out what a SOLE is).

Sugata Mitra

A balancing act

I’m off on holiday from today until Monday the 18th of this month.

Do you manage to achieve a proper balance between your professional and personal life? Or do you work/study so hard that you don’t have time for family and friends?

Click on this link to answer a quiz about this – Work Life Balance Quiz.

Knowing you have done a good job is really important, but please remember to find time to keep the balance.

Click on the image below to watch one of my favourite TED talks from Nigel Marsh and I will be back soon.


Mass Market Individualisation

The way we learn and the way we teach is changing.

Current examples include Coursera and TED Ed, but there are a whole host of options emerging that will change the way future generations are educated.

I was taught in almost exactly the same way as my father and even my grandfather to a large degree, but with technology I think the changes will be far more frequent and far more radical.

Click on the image below to read an article about this and try to answer these questions -

How many views has Aaron Reedy’s TED-Ed video had on YouTube?

What does MOOC stand for?

What is the 2 Sigma Problem?

Mass Individuals We are all individuals…

Brian: Please, please, please listen! I’ve got one or two things to say.
The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!
Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t NEED to follow ME, You don’t NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re ALL individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!
Brian: You’re all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I’m not…
The Crowd: Shhhh!