How is Social Media Transforming the Future of Education?
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How is Social Media Transforming the Future of Education?


I have here a Slinky It’s a kids’ toy But a few years ago
I tried out something with it that most people don’t often do. It’s fairly basic. All I’m gonna do…
I’m gonna dangle the Slinky like so. My Slinky is extended
under its own weight. What I wanna do is drop it. What I’m gonna ask you to do is predict what will happen
when it falls. Obviously, the Slinky will fall
to the ground. But my question to you is
how will it fall? Will it stay stretched out like this
as it’s falling? or maybe the top will fall
faster than the bottom? or perhaps when I let go
the bottom might come up? These are all options that I’ve heard. But what I’m gonna request from you
is that you make prediction right now, and you commit to it. Because scientific research has shown
that if you don’t make a prediction what you learn from this will be no more
than if you never saw this at all. So has everyone made their prediction…
exactly how the Slinky will fall? Now if I did this live for you
you might not be able to see it, so… I have already filmed it
beforehand in about 800-frames-per-second
slow motion, to make it really clear exactly
what happens when the Slinky falls The bottom of the Slinky
remains completely motionless until the whole Slinky has collapsed. It’s as though it’s defying gravity. Now one thing I know,
if a little Slinky is good then a big Slinky is even better. see, now we’re talking, right? This is not just a phenomenon
that Slinkys obey. This is the way all objects work. If you hold a steal rod from the top
and you let it go the top of that steal rod
really starts falling before the bottom of the steel rod. That is because that release
of the tension needs to propagate through the whole material. Now in a Slinky
it does it particularly slowly which allows us to see it. But the take away, the real piece
of learning that we have here is that disturbances take time
to propagate. you think the gravity should be
pulling the bottom down immediately when I let go. But the tension is holding it up until
it can relax throughout the Slinky. Now that you have seen it
in slow motion, I bet you can see it live. You guys ready?
In three, two, one… Right? You could see that. I bet you anything,
if I had dropped it before you had watched this video
you wouldn’t have seen it. You would have seen something different. And I think that’s remarkable. I mean we say
“you need to see it to believe it,” But sometimes you need
to believe it first; you need to know what’s there
what you’re looking for in order to…
to actually see it. So, that is one of
the YouTube videos that I created. It’s actually my first kind
of viral success. As you might be able to tell
I am a teacher. This is not a profession
it’s a state of being, it’s a personality. I was a teacher when I was a kid. I tutored my friends
and younger kids. I just get a real kick out of
helping people understand something. So I started teaching… one-to-one,
that’s what I did. And after I graduated with a degree
in engineering and physics and I did a PHD in physics education I was teaching in Sydney
in small classes of about 14 students;
one to 14. I also started lecturing at university. Few of the universities in Sydney
had lecture theatres of 400 students. So I would lecture to these students. And I was kind of scaling
my ability to affect peoples’ lives. I’m not sure how affective
each one of those scalings was. Obviously, smaller class sizes
work better. But now I’ve got to the point
by using YouTube, that my lessons have reached
250 million views. It’s a quarter of a billion views worldwide. I think that’s extraordinary;
it’s an extraordinary opportunity, and it demonstrates the difference
that an individual like myself can have. And it was interesting to hear from Paul… you know Paul wasn’t making videos
as part of his sort of… school mandate. He was making them
because like me, he is a teacher, and he wanted to do the best thing
for his students and it just turned out
that was also in the best interest of people around the world. So I just wanna give you
a little taste of what I’ve been up to. My channel on YouTube is called
Veritasium, an element of truth. If you get where am going with that? But I just wanna give you an idea
of how this came to be. I started making this channel
five years ago. There was no funding behind it
there was no organization behind it, there was no real plan. I did this for the love of teaching. So this is what it looks like
in about a minute or two the last five years of my life. Thank you. So that’s what am always looking for,
that moment when the penny drops; when they make that realization. And it’s not just me
who’s doing this. You look around the globe…
there are dozens of creators who are also teachers
who feel that need to share their knowledge,
their excitement for science and technology, for mathematics to share it with the world. what is interesting is that the people
at the top… of YouTube and online video
who are spreading education they’re not Harvard or Stanford or big government-supported
or major educational institutions; they are individuals, they’re people who just took it
upon themselves because they needed to share that
with the world and that has resonated
with the audience. So I always try to consider,
you know, why is it… why is it that, you know,
it’s been these individuals… You know, each one of these people
has a very unique story about how they just came
to make a video on the internet to share an idea with the world. And there’s something about…
about that which is just so compelling for those people watching. It’s because we’re not doing it
for the money and we’re not doing it for the mandate
or because it works within our organizational framework; we’re doing it because we love it. And for some reason
that is finding an audience and it’s really resonating. but I think there’s a lot of lessons
that can be learned from the people up on this screen you know, who have been
really successful… Those lessons can be learned. I feel like we are at the beginning
of this kind of chain reaction; like the way the Slinky starts,
it starts with a little bit at the top and the rest of the Slinky
is not moving. In a similar way, I feel like
we are just at that moment where the disturbances starting
to propagate through our system and these are the people
at the forefront who are really changing
the way education happens. Now, you might be tempted to say that
these people will revolutionize education, and if that is the inclination,
then I’m here to urge caution, because I did my PHD about
how to make films that communicate physics. I tested how well different films work to help people actually learn
and understand Physics. And when I was doing this research
I came across a troubling history. Let me take you back
nearly a hundred years to 1922. There’s this gentleman
Thomas Edison who said, “The motion picture is destined to
revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years
it will largely supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.” You go back a hundred years and obviously we know he’s wrong,
we still use textbooks today. But I hope you recognize that this did
not seem like a ridiculous idea when he proposed it. Motion pictures are revolutionary;
they changed entertainment. It’s extraordinary the impact
that they have had on our lives and yet they have not replaced textbooks. Why not?
I think it’s a question worth asking. If we don’t ask these questions,
we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes. You can move forward to the 1930’s,
when people believed that radio would be the thing
to revolutionize education. There’s a lot written about how
we can take experts now and beam them directly
via radio into the classrooms, and in fact replace some
of the teachers with radios. You can essentially have,
you know, a babysitter and a radio and that would take care
of your teaching. This was the big idea in the 1930’s. And you can see
the attractiveness of this, right? To governments who worry about the big
budgets of Education, you look for ways to make the educational
system more efficient. So, in the case of radio, it was this
idea that we can take experts, we can get them into classrooms,
and we can reduce the costs of teachers. They’re expensive,
they’re difficult to train, it’s difficult to get everyone
on the same page. I can understand the desire to believe
that this would revolutionize education. You can move
to the 1950’s with TV. Studies were conducted to figure out: do students prefer it more
when they’re watching the live lecture? Or if they’re in an adjacent room
with a TV which displays the lecture? I kid you not, these studies
were done with mixed results. In fact, in most of these studies the result was no significant difference.
When you mix up the technology, how does the learning differ? The result is it doesn’t.
The technology makes virtually no difference. And here, you know,
I feel myself echoing Paul again. But people really thought were onto
something in the 1980’s. You know why?
Because there were computers, and computers are not one way;
their interactive. This is the piece
that we thought was missing. “This time is different,”
they would have said back in the 1980’s, Computers can really revolutionize
education; if we teach kids to code, their logic will get better, because they’re programming
the logic of a Computer, so they will learn these skills. What happened? They got better
at programming the turtle; they did not get better
at their logic skills. They get better at the skills
that they’re being taught. It’s kind of no surprise. Except that we continue
to make these mistakes to this day. Here’s an article, “The big idea that can
revolutionize higher education.” I feel like people over the years
are invariably drawn to use these words: Revolutionize and Education. And there’s this sort of amnesia that we’ve had a hundred years-worth
of these predictions worth of really groundbreaking
technologies that have… that have really transformed other areas
of our lives, but yet have failed to fundamentally change
the way we do education. So I stand here today
as a voice of caution to think that the future
of education is not one of revolutions. This was a note about MOOCs, right? Massive Open Online Courses, right?
Again, what is the idea here? Taking great teachers
and amplifying them out to hundreds of thousands,
if not millions, of kids in a highly scalable way
that doesn’t cost very much, right? We are all looking for the silver bullet:
a way to reduce the investment
that is needed in education. We want to believe that there
is an easy cheaper solution. Now we talk about:
can technology revolutionize education? This is what a classroom looked like
a hundred years ago ..or more.
A hundred fifty years ago. What does a classroom look like now? Ok it’s slightly different,
it’s a little bit more disorganized; the desks are… you know there’s group work possibly happening
with those kids, there’s clearly technology in places, right? But what does the SMART Board do
that the blackboard didn’t? I mean, fundamentally,
it doesn’t change the game, it’s what I’m saying. You still have a teacher here
you still have that person guiding groups of students.
Why has this not changed? You may be dismayed at it,
you may think: this is just the inertia of education
and it’s impossible to move us forward past this step. But I think there might
be something else going on here. I think there’re some
lessons to be learned from all these predictions
of education revolutions, and their failures; the fact that
fundamentally classrooms look similar. Why is that?
Why did the revolutions fail? And for me a lot of what comes down
to is that this is not education. This is a statue from Belgium
where we have a pupil reading a book, and essentially he’s pouring
the knowledge into his head. Pouring the wisdom into his head; that’s
the metaphor that’s being represented here. But my point is
what we’ve learned about education is it’s not about a transfer
of a thing from A to B. It’s not a transfer
from the book to the head. It’s not a transfer
from the teacher to the student. IT is not this sort of commodity. I hate for education to be thought
of as this commodity to be delivered to students. Why is it not that? Why is education
not this delivery of information? It’s not that
because that’s not how our brains work, and that’s not how information works. The way our brains work
is we interact with other people; we engage with our friends, with our
families; we tell stories to each other. And through those stories, through those
experiences, through those activities that we conduct together,
we form memories. Each one of us forms individual memories, and it is out of those memories
that our personalities are formed, and our understanding of our world
forums, and our skills develop. I guess what I’m saying, fundamentally,
is education is a social process. And I think it works best when there is a teacher who the students
respect, who they feel accountable to, who can inspire them, who can hold them accountable
for doing the work of learning. Learning is hard work and it’s important
to there’s someone there that you feel socially engaged with and that
you feel like you have to do the work for. Just like, I guess, in your jobs you feel
you need to do the work for your boss or they’ll be repercussions.
I mean… I share this view with Paul
that the future is not virtual technology, you know, virtual-reality. The future is not kids
only watching YouTube videos. I like to say that there will be an
evolution in education, as there’s already been. Are tools change,
our technologies change, but what is the core?
What is the foundation? What is the bedrock of education? It is social interaction between teacher
and student and between the students and amongst the students, right ?
That is the core of education So what does a classroom of
tomorrow look like? It is an environment where the teachers and students
are working together. And if there is a way
in which I feel social media will transform the future of education, it is not in the delivery
of information to the students, it’s in what the students
will do with social media. And this goes back to the point
of making the students into makers. When the teachers can work
with the students in such a way that they can leverage social media to have a larger impact on the world, that is where we’re going to be seeing
the big changes in education. So I see social media
not as a deliverer, but as a tool to be used by students
to really make their own world and make an impact
on the world. Thank you very much.

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