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TED Forges New Paths in Education

Posted by: Christoph Meyer-Roscher on May 31, 2012

Christoph demonstrates the TED-Ed flipping function.Christoph demonstrates the TED-Ed flipping function.

For us at Interbrand, education is an important topic. It's the primary focus of our corporate citizenship program Interbrand InspirED, which enables us to support non-profit organizations in the educational sector. So it is very interesting for us to watch the recent developments in the area of digitally enhanced education.

You have probably already seen one of the inspiring TED talks they share on their website. TED, started in 1984 to connect people from the fields of technology, entertainment and design, has risen in scale and reach with more than 500 million views and, since 2001, all under the stewardship of curator Chris Anderson (not to be confused with the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine).

Their success is due in large part to the use of free online video since 2006, enabling people from all over the world to engage on their platform and spread the ideas. They successfully extended their portfolio with offers like TEDx, granting licenses to third party individuals and letting them organize events in their countries and regions. It is no understatement to say that TED has grown to be a powerful cultural and intellectual force.

They have now gone further with the launch of TED-Ed, an innovative digital based learning center for universities and schools. They offer engaging educational videos on a number of different subjects steering their core idea further into the educational field: lessons worth sharing. Each of the videos comes with a quiz, thought-provoking questions and links to websites for deeper digging. Probably the most innovative feature of the site is the “flipping” function, allowing teachers to personalize the video lessons and to tailor them to their specific needs.

The interesting thing about “flipping” is, that it enables the user to integrate any of the countless videos available on YouTube and to transform it into a personalized lesson.

YouTube paved the way in December of last year when they launched YouTube EDU, uncovering their educational potential. Because some schools have blocked the access to YouTube (in compliance with children protection laws or simply to avoid students’ distraction through cat videos), the Google-owned video service acted accordingly and solved this issue. The videos available under the EDU link are limited to educational content, comments are disabled and related videos don’t show up in the sidebar. Teachers can suggest videos from the regular YouTube sphere and grow the field.

Used properly, TED-Ed in combination with YouTube EDU will be a powerful tool for digitally enhanced education and out-of-school learning. Imagine the opportunities for countries in the developing world, where for example lessons could be pre-installed on XO-1 laptops (One Laptop Per Child) as Wikipedia already did with static articles. Or the lessons can be accessed via the cloud. The new TED offspring is a project worth watching and seeing where the journey will take us.

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