Rediscovering wonder at TED 2011

My dream of attending the TED Conference came virtually true today.

Thanks to the TEDxToronto team and the generosity of the Center for Social Innovation (CSI), Day 2 of the ongoing TED 2011 conference was made freely accessible to a handful of TED enthusiasts via live webcast.

We cozied up at the CSI digs in downtown Toronto and immersed ourselves into the wondrous world of game-changing innovators and thought leaders gathered presently in Long Beach California. There is something truly magical about the synergies of being part of a live event, and it was a thrill to witness both the poise and gaffs of the speakers in real time.

For me, there were two highlights from today’s sessions:

First, the fact that TED curator Chris Anderson  experimented with guest curation, inviting none other than Bill Gates to choose & moderate the four speakers that made up the “Knowledge Revolution” section. Gates did a tremendous job and his enthusiasm was clearly evident and infectious.

Second, I predict that Salman Khan’s talk will join the most memorable/most talked about list this year. A hedge fund analyst turned social change driving educator, Salman showcased the next iteration of learning: via 12 minute single-topic videos that are projected to revolutionize the classroom this century. His idea goes beyond creating creative videos: he demonstrated the nuances of the new  teacher-student paradigm, including “encouraging experimentation but expecting mastery”, building progressive “knowledge maps”, and a data-centered tracker that both students and teachers can utilize to chart progress.

Other ideas I came away with:

Historian David Christian’s Big History Project – “an introduction to everything”, as explained below:

Epidemiologist Bruce Aylward’s call to spread the “End Polio Now” idea. If we don’t it has the potential to spread from a few cases restricted to four developing countries to 200,000 cases worldwide by 2030!

Filmmaker Morgan “Supersize Me” Spurlock’s account of adventures in embracing transparency while making The Greatest Film Ever Sold(a cheeky look into theworld of marketing/advertising) and director Julie Taymor’s perspective on the “rough magic of theater” were entertaining and heartwarming.

Ever wondered what a quadratic equation was or how photosynthesis really works?

From math to science, finance to the credit crisis, partake in your own Knowledge Revolution by checking out the answers at the Khan Academy.