The power of rhetoric: Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture

Following on from my one but  last post where Chris Anderson talked about the power of video to reach people and to transform their lives and potentially the world, I was reminded of the most powerful piece of video I have seen in the last twelve months.

Many of you will know about Randy Pausch’s last lecture. Many of you would have seen it or at least the shortened version that he gave so memorably on the Oprah Winfrey Show.You will know that he was a charismatic Professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was one of the pioneers of powerful Virtual Reality software especially in the entertainment industry. To refresh your memory about the facts of his life (and eventual death from pancreatic cancer at the age of just 47) read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Pausch

This is a lecture that owes everything to a man, dying of cancer, who refused to become a morose and beaten man. He appeared in front of his beloved Carnegie Mellon students and gave a wonderful talk about his childhood dreams. The lecture is over an hour long but it keeps you transfixed to the screen.

This post is one of two posts that I shall be making where I examine Chris’ contention that video is the new transformational learning medium. He gives examples in his talk (see http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_how_web_video_powers_global_innovation.html )  where videos are the medium that today’s younger generation understands and “reads, interprets and creates” themselves.

Youtube and other video sites like Vimeo has helped to revolutionise video availability. There are now video lectures from many of the great universities of the world. Just like the last great revolution in learning, books and the explosion of written material into the world, there has been good and very bad videos created in the last few years… there will be more classics to come. If you watch the wonderful and moving lecture above you will see an example of an early classic of the modern era.

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