New TED-Ed Platform Aims to Bring TED Talks Into the Classroom

By harnessing the expertise of educators to build out its video library, TED sends the message that teachers matter.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world have learned about more than 1,000 topics thanks to the genius that is TED Talks. With this week’s launch of TED-Ed, the organization that’s spent the past six years providing free YouTube access to "ideas worth spreading' is merging short lessons from excellent teachers with high-quality video production and animation in order to engage a new generation of learners.

While many savvy educators already use TED talks in their classrooms, at 19 minutes each, they're a bit long for the average 50-minute high school class period. Each TED-Ed video, which will also be hosted on YouTube, clocks in at 10 minutes or less, enabling educators to communicate a powerful idea to students in a short, easily digestible format.

Because TED-Ed comes during an incredible explosion of free online learning platforms, comparisons to the Khan Academy are inevitable. But while much of the conversation about the Khan model centers on whether its flipped classrooms can substitute for teachers, TED-Ed seems tailor-made for educators to incorporate into their existing lessons.

The TED initiative includes plans to build a video library—which launched with a dozen videos—by having great teachers submit lesson plans that can be animated and turned into additional clips. That means a great teacher will have the ability to aid the education of literally millions of students around the globe, not just the ones in her own classroom. And it marks an important acknowledgement of teachers' expertise and creativity at a time when far too much energy is spent attacking them. The videos can also serve as a professional development resource, providing teachers with examples of their peers' innovative methods.

TED-Ed is barely off the ground, so it's going to be pretty exciting to see how the project develops. In the meantime, nominate yourself, or an excellent teacher you know, to create a video lesson worth sharing with the world.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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