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Friday, April 27, 2012

A Thought or Two About TED Ed

TED made headlines this week with the launch of TED Ed. TED Ed is a new platform through which teachers can build short lessons around short videos that have been given the TED stamp of approval. Like most TED videos, the videos in TED-Ed that I have watched so far are good. From a production standpoint the videos are better than the blackboard and narration that you get with Khan Academy. But that's about where my excitement ends.

After and or while watching the videos on TED Ed students answer multiple choice and short answer questions about what they're seeing and hearing. Which is exactly what many teachers (myself included in my first years teaching) do or have done by handing out question lists for students to complete while watching film strips, reel-to-reel movies, VHS tapes, and DVDs. TED Ed does have one slight advantage here in that students do get instant feedback on their multiple choice answers on TED Ed.

TED Ed provides a place for teachers to "flip" lessons which is TED's way of saying build their own quizzes around the TED Ed videos and link to related resources that they select for their students. I gave it a quick try and found it easy to do this. But I also know that I could do the same thing with other tools. The assessment tools that TED Ed provides didn't strike me as anything more than what you can do with a tool like Flubaroo. And before you flip your classroom, please consider these questions.

One of the things that I would like to see added to TED Ed is a place for real-time conversations about the videos that students watch. This would allow students to ask questions of each other and of their teachers while watching the videos. This allows the students to take a bit of the lead in determining what is thought-provoking in a video. I know from experience of showing video clips in social studies classrooms  that giving a forum for that kind of response to videos can mean the difference between watching and thinking about what is being shown and simply hunting for answers in a video. Here are three tools that have the required kind of technology in place now.

Overall, TED Ed seems like it could be handy for creating quick introductory or review lessons, but it's not going to revolutionize how education works. I welcome your thoughts in the comments.


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