4 donuts for my experience at Tedx Paris Universités

23 Mag

In the last few days I  finally got a break after the intense period spent  preparing my Tedx Talk. The imposed “six-minutes-speech” rule forced me to take on a challenge: give  structure to a huge amount of data on the value of classical culture, which I’ve collected during the last two years. I know it was  time to reorganize coherently some ideas that were already in my mind but in a pretty undefined form. After the Tedx conference I had the same feeling: I was overwhelmed by new information and not really able to grasp my thoughts. Yet this morning I woke up with the need to write down how this experience has significantly changed me.

1) What surprised me and made me happy:

First of all, I was really surprised to have been selected. I want to thank Halim and his team: they were brave to bet on a subject such as classical philology, normally not well represented on the stage of TED’s conferences, and on someone like me who, from the word go, seems to represent radically different opinions  on the use and role of new medias. On the stage,  I somehow felt responsible as a representative not only of  my own thoughts, but as a spokesperson of Latin and Greek’s studies: this feeling of responsibility increased my fear of speaking for the first time in front of 400 hundreds people. I worked on this conference with all my strength and what has made me happy was the impression to be deeply connected with the public, as if they could sympathetically feel how hard I believe in what I was saying. Thanks to everyone who listened to me during these six minutes: your attention was the best reward for my work.

2) What I liked the most and got me thinking: Science and religion by Florian Douam

I loved the speech by Florian Douam on science and religion. For my PHD I’m studying ancient roman religion (in particular the 6th book of the Aeneid of Virgil) and I know how difficult it is to deal with such a subject. I found his talk powerful and well constructed around pertinent examples. His message was clear, without arrogance and therefore  respectful of diversity: we can’t play the game of religion with the rules of science and vice versa because we’re in two different and not comparable domains. What has made me thinking was his capacity to express a good concept through elegant words, gently escaping the danger of  annoying rhetoric of  change (words such as “passion”, “hacker”, “share”, “mates” were in my opinion overused during the  whole day).

3) What I didn’t like and got me thinking even harder: Unishared by Clement Delangue.

I didn’t like the presentation of Unisharedby Clement Delangue and I personally explained to him my initial doubts during one of the coffee breaks.  When I don’t like something I always try to understand why. I’ve nothing against the concept itself: taking notes in a collaborative way can be eventually useful and funny (however I don’t think revolutionary). Why  did the presentation of Clement therefore bother me so deeply? If the content is not the problem, I said to myself, the reason must lie in the form. I read a lot of articles, watched videos about technology and education (thanks to mikiane for this interesting article) and I came up with the following conclusion. Clement started with the example of the Uncollege movement, born in America, which proposes a program of “self-education” opposed to the college education, unavoidable for the majority of the American population. Peter Thiel, CEO of Paypal, who instituted some scholarships to encourage twenty young students to skip college and realize their start-up idea, considered university to be a bubble, something generally overvalued: it costs too much and doesn’t provide the skills to become an entrepreneur. Since Clement started with this example and continued using Thiel’s bubble metaphor, I got the feeling that he wanted to underline the potential of Unishared as an online instrument of “self-education”. Here in Europe we have a different educational system and, in my point of view, self-education  not  opposed to university’s education: we can do both without difficulty. I believe in technology as a way to democratize the contents of education, especially for those who have no real possibility to attend university. I don’t believe in technology as the way of creating a new bubble: an independent system of “self-education” where we try to learn in new loneliness the skills which we require to realize a specific project. I hope that my critics can help Clement and his team to replace their project in a different context of values.

4) What I want to study and made me enthusiastic:

a) I want to study the for me completely new rhetorical discourse linked to the startup world: a mix of coolness, youth, passion, virality, net,metaphorically hacking and dynamism.

b)I want to better understand  the possible interaction between technology and education. I want to spread the idea that a revolution of education doesn’t have to coincide with a massive technologisation of school, but, instead, with the conscious research of a program of study well balanced between technical skills, humanities and liberal arts. Thanks to this TEDx conference, and what I  experienced there, what I liked and disliked, I have been able to  open my mind to a new range of interesting topics.

Keep thinking critically, constanter et non trepide!

Giovanna

Annunci

4 Risposte to “4 donuts for my experience at Tedx Paris Universités”

  1. Clément Mag 30, 2012 a 10:42 am #

    Hi Giovanna,

    Thanks a lot for your feedback and for your talk at TedX! Please find below my answers. I would love to continue the discussion in real-life whenever you want 🙂

    ” I’ve nothing against the concept itself: taking notes in a collaborative way can be eventually useful and funny (however I don’t think revolutionary).”

    Actually it’s broader than that, as you also share it in real-time with everyone who is interested by the subject of the class, all over the world. Maybe this video will make it clearer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqJ2-A4eAII. I’m thrilled if it’s not revolutionary to you and if you’re already using collaborative tools inside your classrooms (you have no reason anymore not to use UniShared :)). I don’t think it applies to the majority of the classrooms though. And in fact, we don’t intend to be revolutionary as we think change needs to occur progressively, which is the reason why we’re using the existing Google Docs.

    “Why did the presentation of Clement therefore bother me so deeply? If the content is not the problem, I said to myself, the reason must lie in the form. I read a lot of articles, watched videos about technology and education (thanks to mikiane for this interesting article) and I came up with the following conclusion. Clement started with the example of the Uncollege movement, born in America, which proposes a program of “self-education” opposed to the college education, unavoidable for the majority of the American population. Peter Thiel, CEO of Paypal, who instituted somescholarships to encourage twenty young students to skip college and realize their start-up idea, considered university to be a bubble, something generally overvalued: it costs too much and doesn’t provide the skills to become an entrepreneur. Since Clement started with this example and continued using Thiel’s bubble metaphor, I got the feeling that he wanted to underline the potential of Unishared as an online instrument of “self-education”. Here in Europe we have a different educational system and, in my point of view, self-education not opposed to university’s education: we can do both without difficulty.

    I started and finished my presentation with Uncollege to stress out that, contrary to them, I did not think that the solution was for students to drop out, but to be given the chance to change the way they are educated. Looking forward to the video to be sure I was clear on this point. Moreover, the bubble image was to show that most of the classrooms are not sufficiently open to the rest of the world. In fact, people today are sharing everywhere but in the classroom. Plus, I truly believe people should and are actually learning both by themselves but also and mainly with others, be they peers, teachers or anyone else. “Connecting learners” who were previously learning by themselves is the main objective of what we are doing.

    “I believe in technology as a way to democratize the contents of education, especially for those who have no real possibility to attend university. I don’t believe in technology as the way of creating a new bubble: an independent system of “self-education” where we try to learn in new loneliness the skills which we require to realize a specific project.”

    Totally agree with this! This is why we advocate for better in-class interactions. Actually, there is no tech/distance learning versus non-tech/in-class learning. They are complementary as you can use technology to enhance both physical and distance learning at the same time by making it more collaborative and open. I encourage you to experience a live-sharing session on UniShared to understand this point.

    Hope I was clear, let me know if not.

    Cheers,

    Clément for UniShared

    • purpleclassics giugno 3, 2012 a 7:14 am #

      Dear Clement,

      Thanks for your reply. As I understand it, your goal is to integrate the use of collaborative tools (such as Unishared) in classrooms, and you don’t stand for the model of self-education only.

      In all honesty, I don’t believe that the quality of a lesson can be improved with the simultaneous connection of the class members with a worldwide community interested in the same topic. The best lessons for me were those in which I had the opportunity to really interact and engage in discussion with the people in the class. This atmosphere is not easy to create: this kind of interaction demands a big effort from professors and students, requires attention and a deep connection with the present.
      As a teacher, I will probably not be happy to have my students tweeting or Unisharing (:D a new neologism just for you!) during the class. As an active user, I will not be prepared to share contents that I’ve probably not yet understood myself. As a passive user I would find difficult to properly understand somebody else’s notes without having attended the same course.

      In many instances I have strong opinions, but I have also a lot of doubts… millions of doubts. I’ve been wrong many times before, and I may well be wrong now. I wish you good luck for your project. I’ll continue pursuing my studies on technology and education, and I’ll let you know the next time I’m in Paris.
      I always find that discussions between people belonging to different schools of thought are the most stimulating. ^^
      Keep in touch,
      Gio

      • Gnu giugno 6, 2012 a 9:31 pm #

        I agree. Taking notes is a very personal matter and after during as well as after a class, I have my own thoughts, the thoughts of the author in question and the professor’s words to think about — already quite a lot. Discussing issues and ideas is another matter than studying. Real studying happens only through intense and focused intellectual interaction, or during those fruitful hours spent alone at the library. If class isn’t interesting enough just listening to the professor, then you might have chosen the wrong field of study.
        It shocked me when I heard Clément say in the video that he could find the exam question in 20 seconds on google. For me, the best thing about being at university is when I realize I know more about a detail of truth than google, when I’ve learnt something in class which isn’t on google, or even better, which is wrong on google! That’s why rigorous academia and peer reviewed standards are indispensible. There’s a reason I’m taking class not from my co-student’s twitter notes but rather from a professor with years of research in her field.
        If others in the world are interested in a topic only enough to google it, they CAN google it, like you said, and gain easy, fast and maybe unreliable knowledge. If they are really interested in something, they can go to uni and participate in class.
        Fortunately, university is not a bubble, it’s a window to look at and question the outside world from a critically removed, contemplatory and truth-seeking place.

      • bianca luglio 5, 2012 a 7:23 pm #

        Maybe discussing the topic AFTER the class with other students all over the world, and not DURING the class, could have some kind of pro. However, I doubt it. I honestly think that the idea of quantity, rather than quality is at the basis of the Clement’s conception. Quantity rather than quality, superficiality, loss of concentration are the flipside of a wonderful technological world that enable us to access infinite information and people.

        But let s try not to get lost, keeping our feet and brains on the ground : firstly, we have to connect each other in the real world, with the people sitting besides us in the class. This would be already a great achievment. There is so much to learn from your teachear and your own classmates. Let s put some more effort in this before skyping someone in China. Stay human!

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