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TED-Ed News: Educators, Animators, and Lifelong Learning

You can probably remember a lesson or two delivered by one of your teachers in high school or college. It may have been something that changed the way you thought about the subject matter or helped you make a connection necessary to understand a tough concept. These kinds of lessons can make a real difference in a student's learning experience – opening doors the student may not have even realized were there. What if these teachers were able to share their lessons with the world?

It's been almost a year since I first wrote about the potential uses of TED resources in an online classroom. That post, Do You Know TED?, provided an introduction to the nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing leaders in Technology, Entertainment, and Design together, as well as the variety of recorded TEDTalks available, and an education initiative. Last week, TED-Ed launched a new feature of the initiative: a YouTube channel specifically for educators. The mission of this project is "to capture and amplify the voices of the world's greatest teachers" by teaming educators and animators to create brief videos that encourage curiosity. They've uploaded the first videos and encourage you to consider how these might be helpful in your work as an educator or learner.

What's new?

While many of the organization's resources are already widely used in education and learning circles, the TED-Ed initiative seeks to further explore this use at the high school level and beyond, not only reaching existing lifelong learners, but encouraging younger students to become lifelong learners.

The most recent addition to the larger project is the creation of the TED-Ed YouTube Channel. As of the writing of this post, there are 14 videos available, but the goal is to upload "hundreds" within the coming year. These are currently organized into five featured playlists: Awesome Nature, How Things Work, Playing with Language, Questions No One (Yet) Knows the Answers To, and Inventions that Shaped History.

There are several features that make this project different from other video series that can be found on the Internet:

  • The presenters are educators representing a wide range of expertise, providing their own narration to the lessons they have developed.
  • A team of professional animators collaborates with the educator-presenters to create engaging demonstrations and enhanced digital storytelling.
  • Each TED-Ed video is less than 10 minutes in length, shorter than most TEDTalks and designed to hold the viewers attention.
  • The initiative is focused on distributing lessons that "catalyze curiosity." They hope is that the learner/viewer will develop questions that spark further exploration of the topic covered in each presentation.

Take a look at the brief introduction to the Questions No One (Yet) Knows the Answers To series to see how the audio narration and animation work together to grab our attention, relay information, and encourage us to learn more.

As this library continues to grow, you can also search the recorded TEDTalks for subjects and speakers of interest to you. There are currently over 1100 video presentations cataloged online.

What's next?

The YouTube channel will be followed-up with a new TED-Ed website, which is scheduled to launch in April. According to, this site will "feature an open invitation to the world's best animators and teachers to unite on [Ted-Ed's] new digital platform." Submission forms are already available – if you would like to submit a lesson of your own or nominate an educator, you can do so online. There is also a call for animators to "lend their skills to something as important as education."

In the meantime, you can subscribe to the TED-Ed YouTube Channel and follow @TED_ED on Twitter to find out more about the latest educational videos and updates on the education initiative.

TED in Your Town

While the online resources have gained a lot of attention, you may be surprised to find out that you can attend TEDx events all over the country and across the globe. Organized within local communities, these live events give individuals the opportunity to take the stage and "foster learning, inspiration, and wonder – and to provoke conversations that matter." TEDxPurdueU is just one example of an event scheduled at an academic location. Taking place on campus later this week, TEDxPurdueU will also feature a live webstream and social media coverage of speaker sessions.

Through the TED-Ed initiative and TEDx events, a variety of experts, innovators, and educators are given a platform to contribute their "ideas worth spreading" or "lessons worth sharing" in professional, public, and web-based forums. The documentation and dissemination of their work in these ways will likely benefit both online and lifelong learners for years to come. Find out more about TED and consider submitting your own ideas and lessons to help others learn.

Image credit: jurvetson, Flickr, CC-BY