Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Can TED ED Capture and Share the Best?

TED has enabled many great speakers, their vision and thoughts to be shared across the globe. Many would have never known about the likes of Pranav Mistry’s Sixth Sense without TED Talks. The eloquent education evangelist, Sir Ken Robinson has reached millions through TED and has been viewed over 11 million times and continues to be watched by more than 10,000 people every day. TED has changed the way we can hear the best speakers, scientists and business leaders.

Now the service is extending itself into the educational space with a TED-Ed YouTube service. Its approach may well recreate those magical Faraday Lectures that engaged so many students in the past and ensured the best and most gifted teachers engaged with the widest audience to create life long learners. Together with Salman “Sal” Khan’s Khan Academy, they start to question the way we use technology to engage and educate and remove those physical constraints that have often restricted learning. The Khan Academy is now backed by the Gates Foundation and Google, and is starting to find an audience.

TED-Ed has taken a few wise steps in this new programme. It has created; a submission process that can be vetted, a capturing facility enabling the best teachers to be caught on the internet, a short form lecture that is focused on 10 minutes and an opportunity for the best graphic artists and animators to plug in and help augment the basic content into an absorbing lesson. TED is committing to producing hundreds of videos a year but unlike others, sees it self as ‘helping teachers’ and not claiming to replace or transform education into a video and digital streamed world.

So is TED-Ed becoming an educational publisher? What is different to what they do to what the likes of Pearson and others do? Is it in fact now competing head to head with TV educators such as the BBC? Will other teachers use the material to compliment their own or view it as a gimmick, a 10 minute sound bite and nothing more? Will sufficient material be posted to offer real depth and will there be sufficient range of material to cover all subjects? Will the graphics match the words and engage?

TED-Ed aims high and there is no reason why it will not attract the best teachers and give them the unique opportunity to educate not just the few but the masses, not just in one school, city or country but across the glob enabling them to engage, inspire and open students reception to learning. It however steers away from creating entire curricula on video choosing instead to compliment curricular with those engaging moments that leave the student engaged and wanting to learn more.
TED-Ed has posted a small number of lessons aimed at engaging the teachers so they can participate and create hundreds more. The videos are based on using the teacher’s words and giving them that extra dimension through the overlay of the best animation.

TED was an opportunity missed by traditional publishers who often saw it as a speaker conference forum and not as a education and enlightenment platform. They didn’t grasp the model and its potential we wonder if they same will apply to Ted-Ed and whether in a few years we will all be experiencing the rebirth of the Faraday lecture via 21st century soundbites.

Watch some TED-Ed videos and make your own mind:
How Pandemics Spread
The cockroach beatbox
How containerization shaped the modern world
David Gallo on Deep Oceans
The Power of Simple Words

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