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Just a Click Away

By Dan Florell

Many people take the opportunity at the beginning of a new year to challenge themselves with establishing new habits or making new efforts to improve themselves. My suggestion is to take the opportunity of the new year to explore topics that are quite different from school psychology. I am amazed by how breaking out of the proverbial box with totally different content can inspire real insights into our own profession. One of my favorite ways to break out is to listen to TED.

The Technology, Education, and Design (TED) conferences can be a breath of fresh air. TED’s slogan is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TED conferences feature a variety of speakers talking about their particular areas of expertise in brief, 3–20-minute presentations. The speakers range from nutritionists to gaming theorists to neuroscientists. All of the talks from the conferences have been recorded and put on the TED website (www.ted.com). With more than 800 recorded talks, everyone will find something of interest.

I use the TED website as an excellent mental health break. I find that shifting my attention to an area that I know relatively little about can help me to refocus my attention back to task or even inspire new insights regarding school psychology.

At the end of last semester, I found Jason Fried’s talk about why work does not occur at work insightful. It also may have tapped into my end-of-thesemester anti-meeting attitude. I think it brings some insight into that feeling many of us have that we have spent the entire day at work, and yet at the end of it we feel like almost nothing has been accomplished. If you have had this feeling often, I suggest you check out Mr. Fried’s presentation.

One other TED talk I would like to highlight is that from Tom Chatfield. Mr. Chatfield specializes in studying the online gaming world. In his talk, he discusses how gaming companies are using the massive amounts of data they collect to encourage people to spend longer and longer periods of time in the online world. How they do this is fascinating and provides some possible insight into the future direction of how education may proceed within a gaming framework.

As everyone starts to settle into the second half of the school year, check out the TED talks. I think you will find the different perspectives refreshing and a welcome distraction. If you do check out the site, e-mail me (dan.florell@eku.edu) about some of your favorites. I am always looking for new talks and new insights!

Dan Florell, PhD, NCSP, an assistant professor in the school psychology program at Eastern Kentucky University, is the NASP Webmaster.