Excellent learning platform

Weekender
EDUCATION

By Rev SEIK PITOI

WE NEED to think. There is a great need for thinkers today.
Many people do not think. They jump onto to any bandwagon that comes along. No thinking, no analysis, no critiquing. Just go along because it sounds good.
Some time later, another wagon rolls down the other way with an opposing set of views (usually one wagon driver will accuse the other driver of importing external views to confuse the masses).
So when the latest bandwagon now becomes more appealing, they switch wagons! That’s the problem with those of us who cannot think for ourselves and form our own opinions.
One excellent way around this is to hear an array of presenters speak on a given topic. Let the speakers challenge your firmly held position.
Learn as much as you can, even from those whose positions you may not agree with.
Appreciate where they are coming from and see how you can benefit from their vast knowledge.
Think, analyse, critique and do your own research. It will do you good.
One such platform of learning I have come across is TED Talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and their speakers are some of the most learned in the world in their respective fields.
I have learned so much in areas where I previously knew very little. What I gleaned from those talks made me hungry to learn more so I embarked on my own research in my spare time.
I have been greatly inspired by the many good speakers on TED whose presentations (each is limited for 18 minutes or less) have been adapted to a wider audience worldwide through YouTube.
I got the following information from the TED website and I will allow them to give us an insight into how the organisation began:

Health and wellness practitioner and nutritionist Cynthia Thurlow challenges the audience on facts about Intermittent Fasting (TEDx Greenville).

“How did a one-off conference about technology, entertainment and design become a viral video phenomenon and a worldwide community of passionate people? TED was born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman’s observation of a powerful convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment and design. The first TED, which he co-founded with Harry Marks, included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.
But despite a stellar line up, the event lost money, and it was six years before Wurman and Marks tried again. This time, in 1990, the world was ready.
The TED Conference became an annual event in Monterey, California, attracting a growing and influential audience from many different disciplines united by their curiosity and open-mindedness – and also by their shared discovery of an exciting secret. (Back then, TED was an invitation-only event. It is not now – you’re welcome and encouraged to apply to attend.)
Meanwhile the roster of presenters broadened to include scientists, philosophers, musicians, business and religious leaders, philanthropists and many others.
For many attendees, TED became one of the intellectual and emotional highlights of the year.
That was certainly true for media entrepreneur Chris Anderson, who met with Wurman in 2000 to discuss the conference’s future.
A deal was struck, and in 2001, Anderson’s non-profit Sapling Foundation acquired TED, and Anderson became its curator.
In taking the conference non-profit, Anderson stood by the principles that made TED great: the inspired format, the breadth of content, the commitment to seek out the most interesting people on Earth and let them communicate their passion.
It soon became clear that the ideas and inspiration generated at TED should have an impact well outside the city limits of Monterey.
Accordingly, the years 2001–2006 saw three major additions to the TED family:
A sister conference, TEDGlobal, held in locations around the world
The TED Prize, which grants its winners one wish to change the world
An audio and video podcast series, TED Talks, in which the best TED content is released free online.
The first six TED Talks were posted online on June 27, 2006. By September, they had reached more than one million views.
TED Talks proved so popular that in 2007, TED’s website was relaunched around them, giving a global audience free access to some of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and teachers.
In 2008, in part thanks to new awareness created by TED Talks, we launched TEDActive, a simulcast version of the springtime TED Conference, allowing more people to attend at a lower price.
By 2009, the number of TED Talk views had grown to 100 million views, making Internet heroes out of speakers like Jill Bolte Taylor and Sir Ken Robinson.
In that same year, the TED Fellows program was launched to bring up-and-coming innovators from around the globe to the conference for free.
The same year saw the creation of TEDx, a radical opening up of the TED format to local, independently organized events.
Around the same time, we embarked on the TED Translator program, creating the infrastructure for TED Talks to be translated into 100+ languages.
In March 2012, TED-Ed was launched, creating short video lessons aimed at educators, and April 2012 saw the debut of TED Radio Hour, a partnership that brings ideas and stories from TED Talks to public radio listeners.
All of these projects aim to create ever greater access to ideas, for free.
In the fall of 2012, TED Talks celebrated its one billionth video view.

Eleven-year-old Oxford University Philosophy student Joshua Beckford sharing his views on the environment (TEDx Vienna).

As TED Talks continue to be watched around the world, with an average of 17 new page views a second, TED conferences and events continue to inspire, motivate and thrill attendees.
In 2014, the annual TED Conference celebrated its 30th anniversary in Vancouver, Canada.
The theme of the milestone conference: “The Next Chapter,” both a reflection on developments of the past 30 years as well as a look at what’s ahead.
As of July 1, 2019, TED is owned by TED Foundation, a tax exempt not-for-profit corporation”. (Source – www.ted.com).
The vision of one man has brought about this powerful tool to help us today to think and learn more.
It is free on the internet through YouTube (sorry, it will cost you a flex card from your service provider)!
There are many things you can learn, some obviously more interesting than others, depending on your taste.
For instance, I learned recently about autophagy, ketosis, intermittent fasting, ketosis diet, the human brain and memory enhancement.
I was fascinated to learn about the human body’s ability to rejuvenate and heal through fasting.
Indeed, the Creator God “fearfully and wonderfully” made our bodies in His image, something intricate and precious, as mankind is beginning to appreciate and understand now (Psalm 139: 12, 14).
Another series I enjoyed was on the power of laughter, laughter yoga, the importance of learning to laugh at ourselves, and learning to fight depression with a positive change in lifestyle behaviour.
Truly in these days of stress and anxiety, such truths are greatly needed.
Then, as a Christian, I get excited when I see the same truths laid out many hundreds of years before by the Lord Himself.

Next week I will bring the inspiring story, as told in TED, of one woman’s efforts to challenge and change the views of men in her country towards women, and how her effort is making a real impact.

  • Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.

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