TED, or as Gawker.com calls them, "Nerd Coachella," is introducing a new platform that will allow teachers to take advantage of TED-created video content to put together unique learning opportunities for their students. TED-Ed, launched with the help of $1.25 million donated by Kohl's Department Stores, currently hosts a few dozen videos put together from previously delivered conference talks which will give teachers a chance to experiment with the new tools.
Each video featured on the site is mapped, via tagging, to traditional subjects taught in schools and comes accompanied with supplementary materials that aid a teacher or student in using or understanding the video lesson. Supplementary materials include multiple-choice questions, open-answer questions, and links to more information on the topic.
The videos themselves are only part of the experience. What makes this platform special is the unprecedented opportunities to customize the content via a process called "flipping," which allows teachers to edit or completely alter the supplementary content and pipe the information onto a private webpage whose access permissions could be individually set. That way, the administrator can track student progress through the material on a person-by-person basis.
In addition, teachers can use these tools not only on videos provided by TED, but any YouTube videos that allow embedding, which is a vast majority of them. The best combinations of video and supplementary material can end up featured on TED-Ed site for others to use. Thus, the site's library of useful lessons will continue to grow as more users take advantage of it.
At the moment, the site is in a beta-test stage, but a full launch is planned for later this year.
Logan Smalley, who calls himself the TED-Ed Catalyst, describes the initiative as a way to make material already available on the TED-Ed YouTube channel more useful and robust. By introducing more customization options, the platform puts power into the hands of educators, converting a passive academic experience into a more active and engaging one.
Gawker.com writer Adrien Chen, who browsed through the videos currently available, particularly recommended "Schools Kill Creativity" as a good place to start, although judging by his tone, he was underwhelmed by the initiative's potential:
With this initiative, America's schoolchildren will learn important career skills, like how to dazzle a crowd of their peers using nothing more than a head-mounted microphone and dramatic pauses, and how to create a brand new buzzword out of two already existing buzzwords. We are gonna paradigm shift right past China, people.