TED Talks Come to PBS in One Hour Education Special

TED Talks is joining forces with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to bring viewers a one-hour special called “TED Talks Education” that will air on New York’s public broadcaster WNET tonight. The program is somewhat of a pilot; if it finds favor with viewers, it could be the first of joint projects between TED and PBS, according to the show’s executive producer Juliet Blake.

The program’s 18-month development timeline was new for TED, which is used to moving with lightning speed common in the internet age. However, according to Blake, who is the person in charge of TED partnerships with other media outlets, the pace was worthwhile because PBS viewers were exactly the audience the company wanted to reach.

The cost of production was $1 million, which was covered by PBS. The funding came as part of the PBS program that addresses the issue of high school dropouts in the United States.

Hosted by the singer John Legend, who also has a foundation focused on alleviating poverty by improving education, and taped in April before an audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the show features teachers, students and educational reform advocates like Bill Gates.

The final speaker is the English author Sir Ken Robinson, whose 2006 TED talk arguing for more creativity in schools has been seen nearly 16 million times, making it by far the TED Web site’s most popular video.

Those tuning in will not only be seeing TED speakers but will also hear from students who will talk about what excites them most about education and learning.

The show will make one additional concession to the medium. Although TED Talks last 18 minutes at conferences, the will be shortened to between 5 and 8 minutes on the show. As another executive producer Julie Anderson of WNET put it, ‘TV viewers don’t usually tune in to watch nearly 20-minute uninterrupted speeches.’

Although the talks that will be showcased on the program will deal with education only, TED takes on a variety of subjects. Among TED’s most popular speeches are Dan Pink’s The Puzzle of Motivation, Hans Rosling’s Stats that Reshape your Worldview and Arthur Benjamin’s intriguingly titled Mathemagic.

Sir Ken Robinson, whose TED Talk on how schools “kill creativity” has been viewed over 16 million times, will be the final speaker.