That meeting led Mr. Gates, founder of Microsoft, to support a free online syllabus of Mr. Christian’s unusual course, called “Big History,” that gives a sweeping multidisciplinary overview of world history from the Big Bang to the Industrial Revolution.
Another educator chosen by Mr. Gates to speak at TED was Salman Khan, a financial-industry worker who started an online university from the closet of his bedroom, where he has produced more than 2,000 short educational videos. Mr. Khan described his vision of education in which professors assign lecture videos as homework, freeing up class time for more personal coaching by professors on student projects. The talk got the biggest standing ovation of the day.
“I think you just got a glimpse of the future of education,” said Mr. Gates, as Mr. Khan left the stage.