Product Review of TED-Ed
TED-Ed is a website featuring a curated series of educational videos and lesson plans on a huge variety of subjects. From the folks at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), whose TED Talks have featured some of the world’s brightest minds, TED-Ed is a place where learners can get some of that same inspiration. Students can use keyword searches to find content or browse by theme, including some ongoing video series, such as Math in Real Life and Superhero Science. There’s also the Earth School “immersive learning adventure.” Lessons are available for learners of all ages, and the library is extensive enough to have something for practically any subject focus. In addition to each video (the Watch section), lessons include Think, where learners answer some questions about the video; Dig Deeper, which is a listing of additional related resources; and Discuss, which includes guided and open-ended discussion questions.
Registered educators and learners can take any existing lesson and easily customize it for their own educational purposes. Or, they can create their own video lesson from scratch, based on a video in TED-Ed’s library or from a YouTube link. Teachers and learners are then walked through each step of how to create the lesson, and there’s a management area for learners to keep tabs on their lessons and discussions. The site also includes a conduit for learners to create their own TED-style videos, and educators can register for a program to give their own talks, sharing their unique knowledge.
You can use TED-Ed’s videos and lessons to supplement almost any subject with video learning, basic knowledge checks, and discussion questions. Simply browse by topic or subtopic or search by keyword. You can also filter by target age, content type, subtitles, and more. The content is remarkable and comes from some of the world’s best minds — learners are likely to engage with it right away. Videos can be great to watch as a class or to include as part of a flipped classroom.
If you register (for free), you can also customize existing video lessons for your own purposes, or create your own lessons from scratch using videos on the site (the TED-Ed-created ones are of high quality and are a great way to begin a lesson for your learners) or with a YouTube link. Then add in informative text, content from the video you want to quiz learners on, additional resources, and any discussion questions appropriate for your class.
Interested learners can sign up to create TED-style talks as well, on their own or with the class, or you can start a TED-Ed Club at your school. Teachers can sign up for a Masterclass where they can learn how to give their own talks.
Between the high-quality videos and the extensive collection of lesson plans, TED-Ed is a great resource for learners and educators looking for inspiration, education, and maybe even some fun. The videos and animations are highly engaging and as well produced as some of the best content on television. While a few learners might get bored or frustrated with videos on more advanced topics, the site generally does a great job of presenting complex content in comprehensible ways. For example, “The Basics of the Higgs Boson” describes the implications of this newly discovered fundamental particle using funny, kid-friendly animations.
Video topics run the gamut and will engage learners‘ sense of science and the humanities, from the lives of penguins to “Music and Creativity in Ancient Greece” and beyond. Many topics of interest that aren’t usually included in curricula are here, such as Design, Emotional Health, Personal Finance, Linguistics, and Anthropology. Videos by TED-Ed are continually added to the collection, and people can also use lessons created and shared by others. Teachers looking to work videos into their standards-based curricula would benefit from support to help them find videos with Common Core-aligned content, however.
While the TED-Ed-made videos are top-notch, some of the publicly shared ones vary in quality. Also, the quality of the non-video portions of each lesson may vary considerably, and may not add much depth to the lesson. Students may need to demonstrate understanding in other ways.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Design is top-notch, featuring high-quality video production with quirky animations that will immediately draw kids in. Students are encouraged to think, explore, and discuss what they see in meaningful ways.
Curriculum and Instruction
Quality learning is baked in to these intriguing videos — although they’re short, they cover a lot of content. Many videos prominently feature women and minorities in positions of expertise, exploration, and discovery.
The site includes clear instructions on how to use the lessons, along with step-by-step help for creating your own, clubs for student creators, and a Masterclass for teachers. Searching and filters help learners find what they’re looking for.