Technology, entertainment, and design. Those are the three subjects that sparked a small group of tech enthusiasts in Monterey, Calif. to start what would eventually become one of the most influential and popular conferences today.

Though they have existed since 1984, TED Talks only gained serious traction in 2006, when TED’s leadership put its archived recorded talks online for free. Since then, the organization’s expansive public footprint has grown to unprecedented proportions: 1.9 million TED talk views per day; more than 1,600 TED Talks online; nearly 10,000 TEDx events spanning 157 countries, according to CNN.

TED Talks are, inarguably, an effective way to explore new ideas and materials that can add an innovative edge to any research topic. However, the sheer number of TED Talks out there can be intimidating. We’ve curated a list of TED Talks that are relevant to online learners, as well as Talks that are just so thought-provoking, everyone needs to watch them.

  1. Salman Khan: Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education

If you’ve ever struggled with a math concept, you’ve likely heard the voice of Salman Khan. As the brains behind the popular Khan Academy videos available on YouTube, Khan is responsible for helping millions of students pass courses, from organic chemistry and basic algebra, to prepping for your MCAT. In this TED Talk, he discusses why his non-profit is as successful as it is, touching on many convincing arguments, including the benefits of viewing videos at your own pace and phasing out the social pressure of person-to-person instruction. Sound familiar?

  1. Daphne Koller: What We’re Learning from Online Education

As the co-creator of Coursera, Daphne Koller knows the potential online learning possesses. With a vision to make world class education free and available to everyone, all over the world, she developed Coursera, an online learning platform that combines the brain power and class material of professors from some of the most prestigious schools in America. Law 101 taught by a Harvard University professor? Sign us up.

  1. Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Ken Robinson makes the compelling argument that the current education systems stifle creativity. With an increase in globalized standard testing, Robinson says students are forced to learn a few subjects in a set way. In this TED Talk, he makes the case for why schools need to expand and evolve beyond the traditional classroom. Plus he’s funny.

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

In this TED Talk, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells her story of how she found her authentic cultural voice. She cautions us to be more curious, for if we hear only a single story about a person or a country, we risk cultural misunderstanding.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDGlobal 2009, bonus session at the Sheldonian theater, July 23, 2009, in Oxford, UK. Credit: TED / James Duncan Davidson

  1. Joshua Klein: A Thought Experiment on the Intelligence of Crows

Hacker and writer Joshua Klein has always been fascinated with crows. After a long amateur study on the infamously wily creatures, he proves how intelligent they truly are.

  1. Raffaello D’Andrea: The Astounding Athletic Power of Quadcopters

Calling out all drone enthusiasts! In this TEDGlobal, autonomous systems pioneer Raffaello D’Andrea shows us how robots can use algorithms to learn, think and move like athletes to solve physical problems.

  1. Pamela Meyer: How to Spot a Liar

Pamela Meyer says we’re lied to between 10 and 200 times a day. As the author of the acclaimed novel, “Liespotting,” Meyer shows us the manners and hotspots used by those who are trained to recognize deception.

  1. Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend

In this TED Talk, psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive and shows us how to combat the new public health enemy with one, simple mechanism.

  1. Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

In a world that celebrates extroverts and outgoingness, Susan Cain makes a case for the indispensable talents and abilities that introverts bring to the world.

  1. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Work Better

As the CEO of Good Think Inc., Shawn Achor spends his days researching and teaching about positive psychology. In this quick-witted TED Talk, Achor tells us that working hard to be happy is backwards thinking.

By Bianca Chan

Do you have a favourite TED talk?  Let us know in the comments!

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