#BornToLearn: What's in the program

By Jessika Lynch - Apr 9th, 2016

Jessika Lynch, founder and curator of TEDxAmsterdamED, answers a few questions about this year's event on April 20th.

Jessika Lynch founded TEDxAmsterdamED in 2011 with the mission to open education issues to a wider audience and help make education understood as a topic that affects the shaping of our future. Jessika has attended numerous TED workshops and the annual TED main event in California. In addition to organizing TEDxAmsterdamED, Jessika has a communications background and creates speeches and content, coaches speakers and helps craft authentic stories for people and companies. She has two kids, is married to a teacher, and reads endless articles on innovation and invention.

This year the theme of TEDxAmsterdamED has been broadened to lifelong learning. What was the reason for this?

Since we began, TEDxAmsterdamED has been focused on the future of education – how things are now and where we need to be. But in doing this, also looking at the future of work and the ways our lives will look in the future has been something that can’t be skipped. Nor can the bridge between school life and work life. It is all connected and helps to paint the picture of “Why” – why change, why the need to engage more people in education, why the urgency.

Popular research now says that due to advances in healthcare and medicine, our kids will live until they are 100. They will likely work until they are 80 or 85. As we spend more time working, we need to look at the way we learn across a lifetime – how we are educated, how that continues, and what we learn about ourselves in the process are all important.

What do you want to emphasize by this year’s theme, #BorntoLearn?

‘Lifelong learning’ has long been another way of saying ‘adult’ or ‘continuing’ education. Instead, we would like it to reflect its real meaning – learning across a lifetime – and hope that this idea becomes a guiding factor in education.

What we hope to do with this year’s program is to sketch new visions of learning from different perspectives and at various life stages, but all in some way or another reflecting a few of the same guiding principles: learning is essential to evolving, and we are all born to learn.

We also want to emphasize evolution and innovation in education and support movement in this area. This will be apparent with many of the awards nominees and recipient this year, who are all creating movement around learning

What is the longer-term vision of TEDxAmsterdamED?

Our goal was once opening up education and making it important to a broader group in society. While that is still one of our guiding principles, the long-term goal has become bigger than that. We have an intern this year, Laura, who is creating an impact report whereby she states that as TEDxAmsterdamED, we’d like to see lifelong learning become the norm. This is a simple statement that says a lot about where we are headed in the long term: connecting education and learning in all phases of life, and making this something we are all engaged in.

How do you think you will achieve this?

We have big plans and are only at the beginning! At our core, we organize an annual TEDxAmsterdamED event and strive to bring thought-provoking, spreadable ideas to our stage that sketch new visions for education and learning. We offer the event by livestream and partner with organizations and schools across the country to enable them to hold their own livestream event with speakers and additional programming from their own organizations. Leading up to this, we also hold smaller events with our community such as the TEDxAmsterdamED Award pitches (whereby the final will be chosen during the event on April 20th), and this year we are working with other organizations, such as Professional Rebel, to recognize start-ups in education and learning.

Our board and braintrust advisors are busy linking our community with the business, cultural, academic, and innovation sectors together to stimulate learning connections. Each year we see the reach growing more and more, achieving a great deal of movement as it goes along.

Can you enlighten us on the interactive learning program for the audience included in this year’s event?

Sure. For those attending the event live on April 20th, we have added a long interactive program to the middle of the day. The idea is that in addition to our full program of talks and entertainment, attendees will be taken on a learning journey during the day where they will interact, create, connect, and/or deepen their knowledge during learning sessions. This is where the power of co-creation comes in; the interactive program features contributions from co-investors in learning, partners, and innovative organizations, all offering tailored experiences that match the theme of the day. I’m intentionally painting broad brush strokes only though – the details are still a surprise for the attendees on April 20th!

Who is TEDxAmsterdamED intended for?

One of our biggest challenges is communicating that TEDxAmsterdamED is for everyone. We are all #BorntoLearn and affected by the future of learning, so broad engagement really helps. We try to create a program that can inspire and stimulate a broad, diverse audience.

Who do you want/hope to target for the actual event and that of the various side events?

We always say our audience is as important as our speakers, and it is true. The people we like to attract to attend the event live on April 20th are those who will really benefit from being in contact with changemakers in learning and with our speakers and co-investors. In this group we welcome a very diverse audience – entrepreseurs, students, policy makers, teachers, business leaders, parents, and thought leaders.

For side events, the audience tends to be broader. Anyone can enjoy our livestream for free with only an internet connection and computer/mobile device. Any learning organization, school, forward-thinking company or association is perfect for a side event. What is wonderful about creating a side event or tuning into the livestream is being part of a country-wide dialogue (that often extends to global) simultaneously.

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