TED Ed Launches

TED Ed Launches

Photo by TEDx Vilnius

TED is a nonprofit organization that has been promoting what it calls “Ideas Worth Spreading” since 1984. The initials stand for Technology, Entertainment and Design, but the organization does not limit itself to working in those three areas. Best known for the two annual TED conferences and the TED Talks website, all of which provide exceptional thinkers with a platform to give 18-minute lectures about their ideas, TED has launched a plethora of innovative media projects to promote inspiring and thought-provoking content. Perhaps the most sensational of these initiatives is the TED Prize, which annually awards $100,000 and “one wish to change the world” to an extraordinary thinker.

What is TED Ed?
TED Ed is founded on the principle “Teachers are Heroes.” This new branch of TED adapts the formula that has earned TED Talks so much acclaim in order to better connect teachers with youth and life-long learners. TED curator Chris Anderson wrote on his blog, “There’s a right and a wrong way to interpret today’s launch. The wrong way is to imagine that we believe this to be some kind of grand solution. ‘TED claims its new TED-Ed videos will transform education.’ Er, no. We don’t. The right way is to see this as our reaching out to teachers and saying: Can we help?”

The theory here is that teachers produce an extraordinary number of high-quality presentations of Ideas Worth Spreading, but receive very limited remuneration and have access to very small audiences. By working with teachers to create high-quality video presentations of their lesson plans, TED Ed allows the best teachers to reach much larger audiences, while supplying the world’s classrooms with invaluable educational resources for free. Many institutions offer grants and awards to exceptional teachers, but no one has even given teachers a platform quite like TED Ed.

The team behind the wildly popular TED Talks has been consulting with educators about how they could adapt their format to better capture lesson plans (as opposed to staged lectures) and for easier classroom use. While TED Talks have already been used in many classrooms, the new TED Ed videos will be shorter, aimed at a younger audience and partially animated.

TED Ed is being launched gradually. Right now, you can view a sampling of the videos to come. Why Can’t We See Evidence of Alien Life? and The Cockroach Beatbox have both been viewed more than 100,000 in their two weeks online. The full TED Ed program will launch on TED next month (April).

How Teachers Can Get Involved
TED Ed honors teachers by providing them the opportunity to present their best lesson plan in the form of a 10-minute long partially-animated video. You can nominate a teacher or submit a lesson plan here. TED provides the winners with coaching on how to condense their lesson plans, a portable recording booth and an animation team (TED Ed is also looking for more animators). The video lessons will then be made available online to viewers in classrooms, libraries and homes all over the world.

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