Saturday Nov. 10, 2018

News & Updates

TEDxOshkosh Sparking Conversation in UW Oshkosh Advanced Composition Class

By: Christine Roth, Ph.D., Director of the UW Oshkosh Department of English Graduate Program

Editor's. note: When the TEDxOshkosh team discovered that UW Oshkosh Professor Christine Roth had incorporated TEDxOshkosh as a part of this semester’s Honors Advanced Composition class, we just had to ask her to write a guest blog post for us.

I teach Honors Advanced Composition at UW Oshkosh, and I have always asked students to write a researched critical essay as their final project. This fall, however, my students will finish the semester with a public TEDx-style Talk instead of a traditional academic essay. The folks at TEDxOshkosh learned about what we are doing in class and invited me to write a blog entry about the experience.

Part of the UW Oshkosh Honors College’s mission is “to challenge the university’s best students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and community leaders.” Since 1984, TED has presented us with a similar kind of challenge, connecting innovative thinkers with an intellectual community that shares their passion for ideas that make us think, that offers solutions and new perspectives on issues of the day, and inspires people to make a positive difference in their communities. The model seemed ideal for a group of bright, engaged students from diverse academic disciplines, backgrounds, and writing styles.

TED and TEDx Talks are created to “spark conversation.” This is important. Students feel a lot of pressure to be correct. And there is a time for that. In formal writing assignments, we want our research to be rigorous, we want our data to be sound, and we want our grammar and spelling to be free from errors. But I also want my students to be interesting. When a student makes an argument about a text, I want that student to be able to respond to the question “So what?” In other words, I want that student to know what makes the argument interesting to other people. If it’s not interesting, it might not be worth writing out. And to be interesting is to take an intellectual risk. It is to question what we think we already know and to offer a fresh perspective that makes people want to share their own thoughts and responses. It is the kind of exchange that lies at the very heart of academic work.

Unlike traditional student essays, though, TED and TEDx Talks are written for and delivered in front of an audience. This is also important. Students must shape their argument for a specific audience’s interests, needs, and knowledge base, and they are immediately accountable for the views that they express. No longer are they writing within a sort of vacuum, waiting for the professor to respond with private comments and praise. They are communicating with their peers, professors, and colleagues in a way that anticipates a number of professional situations for which I am supposedly training them.

Students prepare for the TEDx-style Talk in much the same way that they would prepare a traditional essay: they identify a topic that they (and their audience) will find interesting, they research that topic to learn what others have said, they respond to that conversation with an original but informed position of their own, and they craft a document in which they articulate, support, and comment on that position. But I see students thinking about this project differently. They want to say something meaningful to their audience. They want to say something that gets people talking. And they want to say it well.

Our whole class will be at the TEDxOshkosh event on November 4. We’re all excited about it. Many of the students are looking forward to hearing particular talks already—many on subjects that fall well outside of their disciplines. My hope is that this experience will help foster a lifelong pursuit of knowledge in my students and teach them not only how to do their jobs better (whatever those may end up being) but also how to live more curious, engaged, interesting lives in general.

TEDx’s Compassionate Ripple Effect Sets the Experience Apart

By: Alex Hummel, TEDxOshkosh '16 Speaker

“How does TEDx speaking differ from other speaking opportunities you have had in your career?” they asked me, triggering a long, long rumination beyond the offered deadline that, eventually, led to this blog post (You’re welcome?).

On the surface, it’s an easy answer: TEDxOshkosh, like its brothers and sisters around the globe, is built on a brand and a few basic rules. Darkened theater with a BIG, RED, DOT (do not venture outside the boundaries of said BIG, RED, DOT). Countdown clock ticking away from 18 stern minutes, staring at you from downstage, along with the rest of the audience in that darkened theatre. And a very clear understanding that there are a number of strategically positioned cameras in the house that will capture your every gesture from varying angles. Yes, the world might see this.

So, that.

Nerve-wracking? In the end, it is an incredibly humbling opportunity to tell a story and/or educate a live audience, and a YouTube audience, about something they may not have ever pondered, even if they share common experiences.

My October 2016 speaking experience in the inaugural TEDxOshkosh was phenomenal. I am grateful to the coordinators who welcomed my talk focused on my mother’s elegant efforts to keep her memory loss (Mild Cognitive Impairment) at bay after my father’s unexpected passing in late 2014.

My TEDx experience reminded me that simple stories make a difference. They reassure people they are not alone in their journeys. Stories provide small doses of laughter and inspiration. They offer solutions. My talk has been far from a viral sensation, at a whopping 777 YouTube views (as of this writing). However, it continues to resonate with people here and there, inside and outside of my small network of friends and acquaintances.

THAT is what is most different about the TEDx experience: the ripple effect one’s message can—and does—have on people experiencing, enduring and living out common stories, be they struggles or strides.

I continue to hear from people who bump into my talk on YouTube. It is a great gift to know we made a connection, opened their eyes and made them feel something.

“The story of your mom's growth at a time when many others retreat is truly inspirational,” one long-time family friend shared.

“I finally had a chance to watch your Ted Talk and I wanted to let you know how moving and impactful it was!!” said another friend of my parents, who graciously reconnected with my mom after kids and jobs and other commitments had kept them relatively distant for some time.

“On Tuesday morning, a eureka moment sparked me to watch your TED Talk - excellent!!!,” shared my wife’s former colleague, who also lost her husband after decades of marriage. I had mentioned the talk to her at a community fundraiser, and she told me she would check out the video. “… It hit home in many ways.”

“You described your mother's journey with humor, compassion, and above all—love,” said one of my work colleagues.

And this one continues to stand out: Feedback from an area high school teacher who, last year, mobilized his students to reach out and connect with the residents of an assisted living community.

“The students are excited about the opportunity,” he said, after having been a live audience member at the TEDxOshkosh event.

TEDx provides its speakers an opportunity to not only enlighten but also to encourage kindness. Sure, there’s a bit of pressure-cooker preparation to pull off a talk. But any stress and strain in that responsibility is vastly outweighed by the potential for a longer-lasting, cascading compassion after one’s 18 minutes expire.

If you are asked to speak or an opportunity to submit a proposal presents itself,… step into the BIG, RED, DOT.

 

Registration Open for TEDxOshkosh 2017

Registration for the second annual TEDxOshkosh event is now open. The event will take place on Saturday November 4th, 2017 at the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh, WI from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. for a day of dialogue around the theme Break Through. TEDxOshkosh will feature a diverse lineup of 14 speakers presenting a wide range of topics.

Speakers and topics include:

  • Javad Ahmad – The Internet of Everything
  • Ken Arneson – The Future of Aging
  • Atiba R. Ellis – Using Memes to Break Out of Voter Fraud Talk
  • Sharon Hulce – The Story of Courage: Lessons from the Wizard of Oz
  • Charlie Krebs – Everyone is a Performer
  • Curt Kubiak – Manufacturing Healthcare
  • Nina Maybe – Radical Vulnerability: Choosing Authenticity as an Act of Resistance
  • Matt McVeigh – What Can Musical Performance Teach Us About Servant Leadership?
  • Jonathan Patz – Climate Change is Affecting Our Health. Is There a Cure?
  • Joseph Peterson – T.rex and T-Birds: Patterns of Evolution by Automotive Analogy
  • Carl Reible III – Family Dairy Farms: Drawing from the Past, Looking Towards the Future
  • Tracey Robertson – Black Girls Aren’t Magic
  • Tracy Slagter – No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Politics for Eaters
  • Nancy Yarbrough – Myths, Misconceptions, Mysteries and Mistakes…of the Sex Trade

Registration options include VIP for $99, Main Floor seats or balcony Suite Seats for $89, Balcony for $69 and Student for $49. All registrations include an unreserved seat for the entire day at the Grand Opera House, catered lunch, pre-event snacks and beverages, snacks and beverages at mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks, and a swag bag of TEDx goodies.  Some registration packages include an opportunity to attend a post-event reception with the speakers.

Online registration and more information about the registration options and can be found at www.TEDxOshkosh.com/attend/register.

 “We invite you to join us at the Grand Opera House to listen to people who have great ideas worth spreading, and engage with our community in conversation,” said Craig Burnett, TEDxOshkosh co-organizer.

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Speaker Announcements Come to a Close with the Final Four

We're happy to have announced the final four speakers:

  • Tracey Robertson, "Black Girls Aren't Magic"
  • Javad Ahmad, "The Internet of Everything"
  • Atiba R. Ellis, "Using Memes to Break Out of Voter Fraud Talk"
  • Jonathan Patz, "Climate Change is Affecting Our Health. Is there a cure?

Visit our Speakers and Talks page to find more detail about these and the rest of our 2017 speakers.

While you're on our Facebook page, like the page and mark your self "interested" or "going" on our Facebook Event. It you do, the announcements will come right to you.

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