TED, a nonprofit organization that produces a popular annual conference on ideas, is launching TED-Ed, an online collection of lessons it hopes will bring the best educators to any classroom with an Internet connection.
“Right now there’s a teacher somewhere out there delivering a mind-altering lesson and the frustrating thing is, it only reaches the students in that class,” said TED-Ed project director Logan Smalley. “We’re trying to figure out how to capture that lesson and pair it with professional animators to make that lesson more vivid and put it in a place where teachers all over the world can share it.”
TED-Ed is the latest wave in a growing trend of free online education. With offerings from the Khan Academy, founded in 2004 when Salman Khan began posting math tutorials on YouTube, and undergraduate courses from prestigious universities such as Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, free classes and lectures are proliferating on the Web.
But much of that content consists of sequential lectures delivered by an instructor behind a podium or, in the case of Khan, a disembodied voice narrating math equations on an electronic blackboard.
TED-Ed, by contrast, is using sophisticated animation, professional editing and high-quality production values to produce online lessons that are hard to forget. And the lessons don’t meander — each is no longer than 10 minutes.