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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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