By Paul Glader, WiredAcademic Managing Editor
BERLIN – TED is expanding its popular video offerings into the education space by launching new videos made by teacher and animators that schools can find on a TED-Ed channel on YouTube and use in the classroom.
“TED’s core mission is to spread ideas,” said TED Curator Chris Anderson. “These TED-Ed videos are designed to catalyze curiosity. We want to show that learning can be thrilling.”
The TED Talk videos feature hundreds of speakers – from billionaire Bill Gates to Khan Academy founder Salman Khan and architecture critic James Howard Kunstler – who appeared at TED conferences giving talks 18 minutes or less, which are video taped and distributed around the web for free.
The TED-Ed initiative will be different. The TED-Ed YouTube channel will offer animated videos, created by artists who illustrate a concept as a top teacher explains the concept in a short video that runs roughly 5 minutes long. YouTube and TED hope the videos become a major teaching tool in K-12 classrooms as well as gain popularity for students and parents to watch at home. It’s motto: “Lessons Worth Sharing.”
“There has been lots of dreaming at TED in the last few years about what can be done in education,” said TED curator Chris Anderson, during a conference call with journalists. He said as the TED Talks have expanded in popularity around the web, many have asked for more videos geared for students and high schoolers. “We have heard a lot from teachers who are using Ted Talks in the classroom but are finding them a little long for classroom use,” said Mr. Anderson (not to be confused with the Wired magazine editor by the same name.)
He said the educational videos average 5 minutes in length and are perfect for opening a class time without disrupting the class by taking up too much time. TED will run an open submission portal (http://education.ted.com/], where animators and educators around the world can contribute lesson plans and video reels on any topic. submissions that TED-Ed picks will be matched with certain animators / visualizers “to create video lessons worth learning, watching and sharing.”
Today, TED-Ed launched the first 12 videos. It plans to add new videos each week. It hopes to build an archive of several hundred videos. TED-Ed Catalyst Logan Smalley said the goal is to amplify great teachers, who normally reach 20 students and extend their abilities worldwide. “Out there, there is an educator who is delivering mind-blowing lessons.”
While YouTube shares revenue with content creators, selling ads to run on popular videos, TED-Ed does not plan to offer such revenue sharing yet as an incentive. “The emphasis is offering a platform,” said Mr. Anderson. “Often, great things happen to people who get their voice out there.” If a teacher becomes a hit, TED-Ed might want to create a channel for them and pay them for doing so. The same model is true for animators. TED-Ed would pay them a modest honorarium but no revenue sharing.
Angela Lin, head of YouTube Education, has told WiredAcademic in the past about the challenges of expanding video use in K-12 schools. Schools often turn off YouTube in the classroom to prevent students from searching for lewd videos or wasting time. So YouTube created special education channels and are encouraging schools to allow those to be on.
Also, few K-12 schools have video projectors the way college classrooms do. YouTube Education and TED-Ed aim to making videos more accessible in the classroom. There was a time when classroom VHS videos wheeled in on carts “were not inspiring or educational” said Smalley. “There is a real opportunity in this digital age to capture the voice of incredible teachers.”
TED started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago and has grown rapidly in recent years. It’s annual TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., invites leading thinkers and doers – Al Gore, Sir Richard Brandon, Isabel Allende and others – to speak for 18 minutes. It posts the speeches at TEDTalks, translating them into many languages. It produces short e-books with TEDBooks. It gives an annual TED Prize. It offers smaller, regional conferences in its TEDx program. It also selects TED Fellows.
Jessica Vascellaro reported in The Wall Street Journal that TED will also launch a radio show with NPR called “TED Radio Hour” that will feature its 18-minutes or less talks starting in April. It will also deliver sets of talks in streaming-video format over Netflix Inc., starting later this month. As TED becomes more of a media company, Vascellaro writes that it could face obstacles in that strategy:
The moves are risky. While TED has become better known through an increasingly global series of TEDx spinoff events in recent years, it is still best known in the relatively clubby worlds of technology and design. How broadly its content—which ranges from hyper-intellectual talks about philosophy to demonstrations of lifelike robots—can appeal remains unclear. Some attendees wonder whether it can maintain the same quality of content while feeding so many outlets. At least one previous media effort, a project for delivering TED talks through a handful of television broadcasters, is on hold.
While some believe TED could lose it’s “clubby” reputation, Mr. Anderson told the WSJ that he thinks the trade-off to expand visibility and reach the public with the “Ideas Worth Spreading” is a good move.
The first 12 TED-Ed videos were created by the following teachers and animators: