New education platform from TED could help power ‘flipped learning’

From staff and wire reports
April 25th, 2012

Each video on the TED-Ed site is tagged to a curriculum subject and is accompanied by supplementary materials to help teachers and students use or understand the video lesson.

TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading big ideas through a series of conferences and a free video platform, has continued its expansion into education by launching a brand-new TED-Ed website with tools to help teachers use video in the classroom.

The new platform allows educators to customize videos with follow-up questions and assignments, TED says—an initiative that could help power the “flipped learning” model.

This is the second phase of TED’s expansion into education, following the launch of a TED-Ed YouTube channel last month with several educational videos. (See “Free video lessons offered by leaders in innovation, thinking.”) Five weeks after its launch, the channel has attracted more than 2.4 million views, 42,000 subscribers, and more than 3,000 comments, TED says.

With the new TED-Ed platform, “you can use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube,” the organization says.

In other words, the site allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on a class or an individual student.

See also:

Why Khan Academy is so popular—and why teachers shouldn’t feel threatened

Flipped learning: A response to five common criticisms

Empowering Education with Video

Teachers also can browse TED content based on the subject they teach. Each video on the TED-Ed site is tagged to a curriculum subject and is accompanied by supplementary materials to help teachers and students use or understand the video lesson. Supplementary materials include multiple-choice questions, open-answer questions, and links to more information on the topic.

But the most innovative feature of the site is that educators can customize these elements using a new functionality called “flipping.” When a video is flipped, the supplementary materials can be edited, and the resulting lesson is rendered on a new and private web page. The creator of the lesson then can distribute it and track an individual student’s progress as he or she completes the assignment.

What’s more, visitors to the site are not restricted to flipping the featured TED-Ed videos: They also can create a lesson from scratch using any video from YouTube that permits third-party embedding. Users can offer these lessons for wider distribution, and the best of them will be featured on the TED-Ed site for others to make use of.

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4 Responses to “New education platform from TED could help power ‘flipped learning’”

May 2, 2012

I reviewed this new TED tool earlier this week and immediately fowarded the link to programs I manage and younger educators that I know. This is truely an exciting way to incorporate video into the curriculum and to extend learning beyond the classroom walls. Technology has certainly brought a whole new dimension to teaching, it makes me wish that my career was just beginning not coming to a close. Where was TED in 1964?

May 3, 2012

The debate about the value of flipped classrooms is raging. Does it just reinforce ‘the sage on the stage’? Do students do their video-watching homework? Is it right for all kids? Does it put students in charge of their own learning? And so on. I won’t get into the debate here. I will just say this: you aren’t that good.
That is a rough statement, perhaps even rude. But think about this: actors get paid well for a reason. They can do something that few people can do—they can be very impressive on a screen. Very, very few of us can command attention in a digital format. All media (radio, TV, podcast, webinar) require much more than in-person communication requires. When you digitize a live presentation, the nature of the small screen/small speaker makes a great presentation seem good; a good presentation seem blah; a blah presentation seem dreadfully boring. Who in your building has the chops to pull this off? Way less than you think. One out of twenty? One out of fifty?
And think about this: editors and special effects and foley artists and soundtrack people get paid well for a reason. They can do things that few people can do—they can enhance a presentation. No one wants to watch a teacher talk for an hour. No one wants to listen to ten minutes of looped jingles you added from GarageBand as a soundtrack. No one wants to watch you write on a dry erase board or watch a Camtasia screen capture. It is cruel to ask students to watch some of the things being created, and if many teachers switch to flipped classrooms, forcing our kids to go home and spend an entire evening watching the junk we create will be beyond the bounds of reasonable. YOU go watch an hour of some the stuff out there and see how YOU like it.
I started out teaching students how to be better oral communicators. Lately, I have been getting calls to work with adults, also. Schools and universities are contacting me not to show the faculty how to teach oral communication to students, but to show the faculty how to be better communicators themselves. These institutions realize that to be effective educators, we all need to be more effective speakers. They realize that in an era where digital media showcase oral communication skills, we need to seriously improve those skills before we attempt to use the new communication tools available.

    July 5, 2012

    I could not agree more. Not only is the on-screen presence a factor, but so much of the flipped story turns us all into high quality media producers – what? I don’t think so. The major wrong assumption I see is that we expect kids to do even more work at home before coming to the classroom – and we all know how successful homework strategies have been. Almost breaks down too neatly into social-economic results of who get homework done and who does not. The oral communication idea makes all the sense in the world – otherwise why are we so in love with TED talks?

    Teacher Education
    Western Illinois University

May 3, 2012

The use of online educational video might be significantly more useful for teachers in the classroom if more attention was given to quality rather than quantity.

For online video to be truly valuable as a teaching resource in the classroom, it needs to be developed specifically for the curriculum (most aren’t), they need to be easily identifiable so the teacher does not need to spend hours finding a suitable video to use, it needs to be fully supported with online testing, lesson plans, interactive study tools and especially pro-active tech support.

More than anything, it should also be effectively subtitled so it is accessible to ALL students.

Currently only one company ( Zane Education at ) provides online educational video for the K12 classroom that satisfies all those criteria.

A recent survey of the main online educational video services provided this comparison chart. It enables teachers to quickly compare the main online video providers and the support services they offer: