TEDxNYED Examines Media and Technology in Education
When we talk about the digital media consumption of teens and young adults, from social media to the mobile web, we often wonder how the future of online media will evolve. Rarely, however, do we consider what it means for the future of education.

On Saturday, March 6, educators and technologists alike gathered for TEDxNYED, an all-day conference, examining the role of new media and technology in shaping the future of education.

Independently Organized, Wholly Engaged

Organized independently by New York educators, the forum combined TED Talk videos and speakers. Conversations among attendees indented to spark insights, deep discussion and connections about the future of education.

Following five themes: participation, openness, media, networks and action, speakers included Andy Carvin, Senior Strategist for National Public Radio’s Social Media Desk; Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?; Chris Lehmann, the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy; and Jay Rosen, NYU journalism professor and author of PressThink, among others.

Tradition v. Innovation 

Schools, public and private, are at a crossroads between preserving traditions and embracing innovations, all in an effort to stay relevant, cultivate patient problem solvers and provide a safe space in which to collaborate and learn. However, ten years into the twenty-first century, many of us are still just talking about technology and innovation, instead of actually implementing them.

The barriers and challenges faced are both philosophical and conceptual, and not unlike the ones being faced by other industries. But when they can be overcome, thanks to supportive and forward-thinking administrators, faculty and staff, the results are astounding.

Whether it’s creating a digital library, where each student is equipped with a Kindle from which to access their English literature homework; or a science class that builds a bio-diesel reactor, which ends up fueling a small town in South America; or connecting students from around the world via video casts to better understand world history, technology and media are not just tools for innovation, but skills that empower young adults to be global contributors.

Exploring the Unknown

If we were to compare the trials and tribulations of the online publishing world to that of the education industry, it’s apparent that they are both paralyzed by their own self-importance. Instead of focusing on and investing in the user, be it the student or reader, they are too concerned about reputations, revenue and rank.

The merit of digital and social media is transparency. With it comes the freedom and responsibility of standing up and declaring that though we may not know how exactly to solve the problem, we are committed to exploring, experimenting and evolving the experience.

In education, not knowing can lead to great discovery. In publishing, it can lead to experimental initiatives like citizen journalism. Events like TEDxNYED help to bring together educators, technologists and innovators so that experiences online, in the classroom and in the community can be adapted, evolved and improved.

TEDxNYED reminded us that it’s not about the diploma or test scores, but rather about the portfolio built, knowledge gained and students reached. Likewise, web publishing needs to look beyond metrics and advertisers, as best they can, and focus on the content and user interfaces. Active learners and online readers want to be engaged -- so what better reason to engage them.