This post could be almost infinite: there is most certainly an extraordinary array of options for videos which expand educators’ understandings and inspire advances in 21st century learning.  But curation is about choice and selection, and while I know I will leave out many, I thought I’d offer up a set of 15 of my favorites for your consideration for video screening at at back-to-school or beginning-of-the-year faculty meetings (and/or parent and board meetings).

I’ve starred those that might also serve as useful and engaging videos to share with students at back to school or other assemblies.

I am sure every reader will have their own opinions about the videos I’ve left off this list, and please: add them below using the comment box, or, post yourself your own set and share the link from this post to your own.

21st century learning generally:

1. Will Richardson’s TEDx talk is a terrific way to open the perspective: we are talking about our kids, and their future, and what really matters for them, and what are we doing now to help them.

1b. Will Richardson Ignite talk offers 19 “bold ideas” that should provoke creative thinking and valuable conversation among teachers.

2. Pat Basset’s Schools of the Future: The Big Shifts is a longer video than others on the list, about 25 minutes.  Bassett is addressing independent (private) school educators, and comes from that background, but I believe his talk is of broad value for educators in every sector.

3. Adam Bellow’s Educational Tech Commandments.  This is a terrifically fun, fast-paced, visual talk which will do brilliantly to stimulated conversation and thoughtfulness about our use of tech in schools.

4. Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ TEDx talk.   It is impossible not to be energized by this talk, and by her utopian vision of how we can reinvent learning for our students’ future.

5.  Sir Ken Robinson Ted Talk: This one needs little endorsement from me; it is one of the most widely watched TED talks of all, and is in wide distribution.   Still, you will find many audiences who are not yet familiar with it, and if it is old hat for your faculty, consider sharing it with your board or parent meetings, and enjoy the conversation that follows.

* 5b.  Alternately, you can share Robinson’s talk, Changing Education Paradigms, Animated.  This talk was very popular at my last school– students, teachers and board members all found it eye-opening.

6. Chris Lehmann’s TEDx talk.  Chris is the outstanding leader of Science Leadership Academy, and nobody I know of in the US is doing a better job right now of combining current, active school leadership with significant, large scale thought leadership.   He is an exemplary role model for all us, and an inspiring visionary of the future of learning, always with his heart deeply and genuinely aligned with the interests of kids.

6b.  His colleague (until recently) at Science Leadership Academy, Diana Laugenberg, also has a terrific TEDx talk which speaks, better than most others here, to teachers entirely from a teacher’s perspective, and gets straight to the core of learning, which begins with making mistakes.   Very worthwhile.

7.  Sal Khan’s TED Talk, Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education.   I know this is controversial and entirely irks some of my fellow educators in the blogosphere, but I think it offers an optimistic view that digital video can enhance student learning and actually make our classrooms more, not less, humane and interpersonal.

* 8. Sugra Mitra’s TED Talk on How Kids Teach Themselves. This is a wonderful, emotionally compelling articulation of the tranformative view that our job as educators is to empower students to discover and pursue their own learning with our encouragement.


* 9. Steve Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From.   Innovation is an all consuming topic for me, and something that I believe we need to embed, explicitly, into the culture and conversation of every school.    Johnson’s book and video talks are a great way to introduce the topic or advance thinking and understanding about “where good ideas come from.”

* 9b.  Johnson’s talk, Animated.

* 10.  Everything is Remix.   Innovation isn’t what we think it is, often.    It is more about remixing what we are already have than inventing something entirely original, and this swiftly moving, visually stimulating piece helps us understand and appreciate this.   This is a four part series, and all four are fascinating, but I think Part 3 is the best.

* 11.  Chris Anderson on Crowd Accelerated Innovation.   This is a bit less widely distributed than others on this list, but I think it is fascinating and very affirming of the positive value that video-watching and video-making can bring the world.

Project-Based Learning

12. PBL: What it is and isn’t.  High Tech High offers these two, short, animated videos which lay out, simply but profoundly, how to think about project-based learning at its core.   They are worth sharing with teachers if your school is on the PBL journey in any way.  I can’t seem to embed them, so here they are in links.

What PBL Isn’t. 

What PBL Is. 

13. Edutopia offers a valuable Introduction to PBL (below), and also provides an entire series of videos helpful to schools advancing the program.

I offer also a link to a post I did a while back, 8 high quality PBL videos. 

Student Voices (or at least, quasi-student videos)

* 14.  A Vision of Students Today.   This is already an oldie (but a goodie) in this category, and perhaps your audiences are already long familiar with it– but perhaps they are not.  It still gives me shivers every time.

Michael Wesch, the professor who directed the video above, has two very worthwhile talks for sharing.   Here are links:

15.  A Vision of K-12 Students Today.   The companion piece, inspired by the original and, thought not as compelling, still powerful.

16. The Voice of the Active Learner is brand new but not superior to the “oldies”  above.  Unlike most others here, it is also corporate (Blackboard) funded, so bear that in mind.   The video is voiced by a student, but unlike the above, it is not especially authentically voiced by youth.   Nonetheless, it captures in a very short piece some important messages.


* 17. Dan Pink Drive isn’t about teaching and learning per se, but it is, of course, enormously pertinent to our vocation.   What is it that motivates us and what is it that rewards us in our work and in our life?   Master, Autonomy, and Purpose: this is not just idealistic passion, but, Pink points out, well supported by research.  Here’s to Motivation 2.0!

14b. Dan Pink Drive Animated

* 18. Shawn Achor on Happiness and positive psychology.  I am ending with dessert here– this talk is less serious in tone, and indeed, it is laugh-out-loud hilarious at times, but ultimately it may be the most important message of all: How do we live, and how do we live in ways which bring us the most happiness?    In a short 12 minutes, Achor lays it out, and audiences will never forget it.