Training Technology

The Top 5 TED Talks for Online Education Professionals

Published by in LMS

I love TED Talks. I love the online accessibility of big ideas. I love the wide variety of the presented topics. I love how educated they make me feel. I especially love having them playing in the background while I clean my apartment or pack for trips.

TED Talks for Online Education

I’m probably at least a little biased, though, since I presented at TEDx in Spring 2016. (If you think it’s about tech or eLearning, you’d be wrong, because it’s actually about the history of American Sideshow. If you think I’m shamelessly self-promoting, however, you’re spot-on.)

Some of my favorite TED Talks are about education. How do we learn? How do we teach? What impact has technology had on the ways we learn? I thought that some of these sorts of talks might be of interest to all you online education professionals out there, so I compiled this list of my favorites for you. Supplement your Learning Management System (or make it better) with these videos as inspiration.

1: Salman Khan: Let’s Use Video To Reinvent Education

“Encourage experimentation, encourage failure… expect mastery.”

If you’re in eLearning you’re probably already familiar with Salman Khan, the creator of Khan Academy. In his TED Talk, he discusses not only how his nonprofit came to be, but also why it works. Videos are effective. You can view them at your own pace, as many times as you need, without the pressure of person-to-person instruction. These methods can be especially helpful for adult learners. The talk also mentions how video learning can be used to help flip the classroom.

2: Daphne Koller: What We’re Learning from Online Education

“…break away from the one-size-fits-all education.”

Education is vital, but it’s easy, in the global North, to take it for granted and to forget just how inaccessible it can be.

Daphne Koller, co-creator of Coursera, envisioned a world where college courses could be accessed by anyone in the world, for free, to educate the masses. The video discusses the value of short (8-12 minute) modular lectures, different paces and pathways for learning, and how to utilize and take action based on the data reporting about your online learners. The lessons Koller has learned about how to present an online lecture that people want to watch can help you craft material that your students will enjoy watching.

3: John Green: The nerd’s guide to learning everything online

“And I became a learner, because I found myself in a community of learners.”

Author John Green presents on why Youtube creates an online community of learning and intellectualism. He also explains why learning within a community can be inspiring, thought-provoking, and why it enhances learning by making it collaborative and social. If you want to create social learning spaces over the web, this is how you can learn to do it.

4: Anant Agarwal: Why Massive Open Online Courses (still) Matter

“The last big innovation in education was the printing press and textbooks.”

Anant Agarwal, head of edX, speaks on the value of MOOCs. Self-pacing and instant feedback are aspects found in online education that are largely absent from in-person educational methods. And these aspects can make all the difference for students. Instant feedback, in particular, allows learners to keep trying instead of waiting on answers and being discouraged. Agarwal also talks about the value of gamification. And not just assigning points to course completion, but making the lesson itself feel fun. Consider Agarwal and edX a case study for how to make a nearly-perfect eLearning community.

5: Richard Baraniuk: The Birth of The Open-Source Learning Revolution

“We needed a community to do it and we needed new tools to be able to interconnect these ideas.”

Books get outdated. Physical guides from textbooks to workplace handbooks are expensive to produce and update. By comparison, online materials are more accessible, cheaper, and easier to update. What if all the world’s knowledge was like this, online and open and free to all? Richard Baraniuk, founder of an open online library called OpenStax, compares open source material to the ways music is created and shared, for an inspiring look at what makes open source so valuable.


I feel more inspired and hopeful already. Do you have an eLearning TED Talk that you love that didn’t make the list? Did you gain any insights from these videos that you’d like to share? Start a dialogue in the comments below.

Looking for Learning Management System software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Learning Management System software solutions.

About the Author

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.


Comment by Nikhil College on

Amazing videos. Just want to ask if there are any TED talk videos which explain the difference between online education and online college assistance and whether websites like transtutors provide both of them?

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