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Australian snakes and attitudes toward technology are among the lineup of 13 student-chosen speakers who will showcase their ideas at Western’s second TEDxWWU event.

TEDxWWU is an independent form of TED (Technology Engineering and Design) Talks, a non-profit organization that gives presentations of 18 minutes or less.

The presentations will begin 10 a.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Performing Arts Center. Western students, graduates and faculty are included in the list of presenters.

Each speaker will empower the audience through knowledge, TEDxWWU license holder Danica Kilander said.

“[A topic] needs to be a big idea and it needs to be a new idea,” Kilander said. “Something we don’t all commonly know in our society.”

TEDxWWU received applications from 70 potential speakers this year, and the group was narrowed to the 13 student-chosen speakers that will take to the PAC stage, Kilander said.

Speaker Kevin Dixey is an applications specialist for Western’s Academic Technology and User Services.

He teaches workshops to faculty and students on campus and searches for improvement on how technological programs should be taught.

Technology should be taught as a skill or tool rather than a software, Dixey said.

For example, someone can teach a class how to use photoshop, but what students are actually learning is how to edit photos.

“One teaches you to be flexible in the way you think,” Dixey said.

Current technology has more availability and is fast paced. Therefore, people need to be taught how to use these tools, Dixey said. “The problem is, we assume we know how to use technology effectively when we don’t,” he said.

Today, students have grown up in the technology era. However, Dixey has found they are not technology whizzes either.

“I think there is an idea out there that all students come into their college experience knowing and equipped,” he said.

Dixey said he wants to create a more positive view of technology by demonstrating effective teaching methods.

“I want to get everyone to a point that they feel comfortable using a tool,” Dixey said. “I don't want anybody to feel like they’re lost.”

Another speaker, Charis Weathers, is the founder of the Whatcom County-based church Echoes. She found her topic while traveling through Australia. She thought it was strange how backpackers of the country feared traveling to Washington state because of bears, though she had feared Australian snakes.

This sparked her idea to discuss the confrontation of fears to improve lives and relationships, she said.  “Everybody’s got [fear] and it affects everyone,” Weathers said. “We can become such a fear-based society and we don’t need to be.”

Weathers will teach the audience to use more of their rational brains than their emotional brains to manage everyday fears, she said.

Approximately 1,000 people are expected to attend the event, Kilander said.

Tickets are on sale at the PAC. Students for $6 in advance and $9 at the door. General admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, visit


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