How TED-Ed is helping to amplify instruction

Anderson said TED-Ed offers teachers a “magic blackboard” that pairs them with animators to create a six-minute video of their best lesson.

Technology can extend a talented teacher’s reach to thousands or even millions of kids around the world, said Chris Anderson, curator of the nonprofit TED project—and during an education conference in Boston, he described how the newly created TED-Ed website is doing just that.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is a global set of conferences created to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” Its open-access website,, publishes TED Talks in video format for anyone to watch.

TED has launched a version of the site for education, TED-Ed, that includes a number of useful tools designed to help educators incorporate the videos into their instruction.

At the opening general session of the 2012 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference, hosted by ed-tech thought leader Alan November and his consulting firm, November Learning, attendees learned how TED-Ed is making an impact on education in just its first few months—and they also got a preview of what’s in store for the site.

Anderson said TED-Ed offers teachers a “magic blackboard” that pairs them with animators to create a six-minute video of their best lesson. Teachers submit their ideas to the site’s administrators, who then choose which lessons will be converted into animated videos.

“We live in a world where one teacher’s voice can spread out throughout the world,” Anderson said—and students worldwide can learn from the best teachers in each subject.

In a demonstration, Anderson showed a short snippet of a video created by teacher Aaron Reedy, who explained how the sex of a clownfish isn’t determined until later in its life. He then shared a tweet from Reedy that speaks to technology’s power to amplify instruction: “7 years as a teacher: I explain sex determination to 1,000 students. 3 days w/ TED-Ed: I have explained it to 13,000!” (As of press time, Reedy’s video reportedly has been viewed nearly 750,000 times in all.)

But technology doesn’t just amplify ideas, Anderson said: It also can boost instructional time.

Dennis Pierce

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