By Katrina Schwartz
There's been a lot of excitement around TED’s foray into education, bringing its inspirational video model to the classroom. TED-Ed launched the YouTube Channel with produced and animated videos about two months ago and now includes a free service that lets teachers upload any YouTube video to its polished platform. Teachers can also make any of the videos -- TED or any other -- more relevant to their classes by adding customized questions and quizzes.
But it's a work in progress at the moment, until educators can figure out the best ways to use the videos. The standard TED talk typically features a speaker, usually an expert in a subject, talking about innovations and inspirations. Most speakers cover topics in big, broad strokes, unlike, for example, Khan Academy videos, which parse and explain specific lessons in different subjects.
Under the math topic, for example, TED-Ed includes videos like How Folding Paper Can Get You to the Moon or Peter Donnelly Shows How Stats Fool Juries. For the curious, there are videos like Questions No One Knows the Answers To and The Power of Simple Words.
And it's this curiosity that most teachers expect TED-Ed videos will feed. “I see them as a valuable inspirational tool,” said Aaron Sams, a high school chemistry teach in Woodland Park, Colorado who uses video lectures to supplement in-class learning. “It’s by no means a comprehensive understanding. It’s a good introduction."
For example, Sams showed his class Just How Small is an Atom and incorporated the pre-made questions that accompanied it to give them a sense of awe about chemistry.