The virtual teacher has arrived — flickering away on a screen on a school bus, in a bunk bed or in the shade of a beach umbrella, and turning traditional education on its head, The New York Times reports.

Thanks to digital media like video-on-demand broadcasts, or VODcasts, lectures that students would normally receive in the classroom are migrating outside of brick and mortar schools.

TED, the global organization that specializes in both conferences and online inspirational talks, has taken the idea a step further with TED-Ed , a Web site with educational videos that can be customized. The site was announced in April. The idea is to use both educators and animators to produce videos for the site, which also has a YouTube channel.

“It’s a better fit for education in the 21st century,” Chris Anderson, the head of TED, said at a news conference in Tokyo in late May. “It’s the next logical step in TED’s evolution.”

“TED-Ed was founded as a way of empowering teachers, as well as giving a large platform for great teachers to produce their talks or lessons on video for the world,” he added.

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staff and wire services reports