It’s been two weeks since our last TED video lesson, and in that time we’ve had a number of other lesson types such as YouTube videos and reading passages. Today we’re going to look at a TED talk video which bridges the divide between technology and education – two vital IELTS topics. It’s called “This virtual lab will revolutionize science class,” by a social entrepreneur called Michael Bodekaer.



Below are some useful words from the video.


Revolutionize v. – to create huge change

Starvation n. – the process of dying from lack of food

Disengaged adj. – not engaged; set apart from

Simulator n. – a machine capable of making a simulation, meaning a virtual representation

Core n. – the center of something

Shrink v. – to make smaller

Empower v. – to give power to someone

Collaborate v. – work together

Vocabulary Test

Take the words from above and put them into these sentences.

  1. The new law was passed to ____________ women.
  2. The draught caused widespread ____________ across the country.
  3. Technology has the ability to _____________ education.
  4. The government hopes that these new measures will ____________ the nation’s debt.
  5. The two writers credited their success to the fact that they could ____________ together.
  6. Finding a solution requires an understanding of the ____________ problem.
  7. One problem in the school is that so many students feel ______________.
  8. Before being allowed to fly a plane, pilots must practice in a flight _______________.


Watch the video and do the following questions.


  1. Why is science education so important?
    1. Science students are bored.
    2. People are starving.
    3. Science students will shape the future.
    4. The world is growing quickly.
  2. What is disappointing about recent developments in science education?
    1. It reaches too many students.
    2. The speaker dislikes technology.
    3. E-books are inappropriate for class.
    4. There is not enough innovation.
  3. What can students do in a laboratory simulator?
    1. Dangerous experiments.
    2. Difficult surgeries.
    3. Cure cancer.
    4. Spread diseases.
  4. What increase did the psychologist’s study show for technology combined with regular teaching?
    1. 300%
    2. 160%
    3. 76%
    4. 101%
  5. What did Jack Andraka do?
    1. Invented a cure for cancer.
    2. Used the virtual reality headset.
    3. Designed a test for cancer.
    4. Taught students at Stanford.

True or False

  1. His virtual reality headset can make science teachers twice as effective.
  2. Teachers will solve the challenges of the future.
  3. Flight simulators were not helpful for training pilots.
  4. There is a CSI game where students must murder someone.
  5. A study was conducted using students from Stanford and Denmark.
  6. Most students already have smartphones.
  7. Marie is the name of another student.
  8. He can see DNA being replicated millions of times.
  9. This technology can’t be used with iPads and laptops.
  10. He believes technology can revolutionize the world.


Here is a sample IELTS Writing Task 2 question:

In the past lectures were the traditional method of teaching large numbers of students. Nowadays new technology is increasingly being used to teach students.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this new approach?

Analyze the Question

Underline key words that help you understand the question: traditional methods, new technology

Look for other important words and ideas: lectures, large numbers of students, increasingly being used

What is it you need to do?

Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the new approach.

Think about what you don’t need to do:

  • You aren’t being asked for your opinion.
  • You aren’t being asked for the advantages and disadvantages of traditional methods.
  • You aren’t being asked for general thoughts on teaching and/or studying.


In the IELTS Writing Exam Task 2 you should almost always use the four paragraph approach:

  1. Introduction
  2. Main Para 1
  3. Main Para 2
  4. Conclusion

So what will you include in the two main body paragraphs? The easiest way is to write the advantages in the first paragraph and the disadvantages in the second.

Remember to think of ideas before you start writing. Only choose the best ideas to include, and expand upon them. Don’t just list lots of advantages and disadvantages. It is better to have a few well-developed ideas than lots of disconnected ones.

Advantages Disadvantages
More engaging Distracting
–          Why? Because technology can reach students more easily and impart information effectively –          Why? Students might struggle to focus because technology is like video games and social media
More accessible Prone to technical failures
–          How? Students can work from home, be flexible, use different means to communicate or learn –          How? Complicated systems are always more likely to have problems than simpler systems.


Sample Essay

Throughout the history of higher education, lectures have been the primary method of delivering information from professor to student. However, in the modern era, technology has created many opportunities for educational facilities to impart information which some would say provide students with better methods for learning. Naturally, there is some disagreement on this issue.

Those who agree with the proliferation of technology throughout education contend that, firstly, it is a more engaging medium than the traditional lecture format. They claim that technology has the potential to pique students’ interest and impart information more effectively than traditional lecturing. Moreover, the flexible nature of the digital world means that education becomes more accessible. As such, students can work at home, or in the evening, rather than attend a fixed lecture schedule. As not everyone has the same learning needs and preferences, technology provides different means for students to study, making education more attainable.

However, there are those who question the benefits of technology in education. They point out that technology is inherently distracting and, as we use technology for games and social media, perhaps it is not the best way of teaching students. Furthermore, technology is prone to malfunction due to its complexity. While it may seem beneficial to have convenient technological systems used in universities, the reality is that there are too many possible errors that might occur.

To conclude, there are strong arguments on either side of this contentious issue. Proponents of technology in education stress the accessibility and convenience it provides, while its opponents focus on the draw backs, such as distractions and system errors.

Word count: 266



Vocab test

  1. Empower
  2. Starvation
  3. Revolutionize
  4. Shrink
  5. Collaborate
  6. Core
  7. Disengaged
  8. Simulator


  1. C
  2. D
  3. A
  4. D
  5. C

True or False

  1. T
  2. F – students will solve the challenges
  3. F – they were helpful when used with real experience
  4. F – they must solve a murder mystery
  5. T
  6. T
  7. F – she is his teacher/lab assistant
  8. T
  9. F – it can
  10. T