I had planned to put a video together about “choosing a school for your children” to test out TED-Ed. However, my eight-year-old daughter caught wind of what I was doing and wanted to get in on the act. To cut a long story short my highly intellectual video-lesson turned into a (what she says is just as educational) video about sewing. No bad thing I’m sure.
If you missed Matt Blum’s post on it, TED-Ed is the new platform that helps educators (and dads and daughters) create video-centric lessons. It’s the “lessons worth learning” complement to TED’s popular “ideas with sharing” talks program. Best of all you can use any YouTube video to create your lessons from, not just those in the TED pantheon. It’s still in Beta, but functionally ready to be put through the wringer by me and my daughter.
The first thing to do is to setup a TED account if you don’t already have one. Something to note here is that my browser struggled to remember my password, and with the allocated character-digit string being rather complex (and so far not finding a way to change this) I’ve had to keep the registration email on hand to log-in now and again.
Next you are going to need a video to base your lesson on. This may be something you have created yourself or an existing YouTube/TED video you have seen in the past. My daughter had already created this sewing tutorial video so we selected the YouTube tab.
Here we hit the first real snag. We didn’t want our video to be public, so had selected the Unlisted Privacy options in YouTube. However to select the video for TED-Ed we had to use a search box, and couldn’t enter the YouTube URL direct. This meant that we had to make the video public before we search for it and select it. A work around for this is to switch the Privacy settings back after selecting the video in TED-Ed, but still a bit of a faff.
With the video selected we could start to add questions and further information around our lesson. This all worked quite well although I have to agree with my daughter that the “typing is a little fiddly.” The TED-Ed site seemed to use custom text boxes: although they look very swish sometimes they seemed a little unresponsive — particularly when editing text.
At first we thought we were unable to include links in our Think or Dig Deeper sections. Something that would have been a shame, as my daughter put it “but I want to show people where to find out more.” After further investigation we realized you need to highlight text to add a link, before the link button is enabled. A little more instruction on the page would have been helpful here.
The process of adding Questions, Think and Dig Deeper sections created a good structure for us to reflect more on how we wanted to deliver our learning aims. In fact by the time we had finished writing them a new learning theme started to emerge. As well as understanding how to sew your own items we wanted our students to gain an appreciation of the work that went into the items of clothing that they buy.
It’s here that TED-Ed’s democratization of learning really comes into its own. Because my daughter was creating the lesson herself she came up with all sorts of ideas about what people could learn from it. Her lesson blossomed from one about sewing into something that engaged with world trade, fair wages and other garment industry related topics. I really didn’t know she was aware of these issues before we started creating the TED-Ed lesson.
With the TED-Ed lesson complete (you can try it here) we could publish it, send it to our selected students and then see how they got on. It took us a while to realize that we had to go to the Recent Activity tab to see how people were progressing with our lesson. My daughter asked “Why didn’t it take us there after we finished our lesson?” She had a good point I think.
Once there, the tab shows you a breakdown of how students are getting on with your lessons. You can view their answers to questions and see other comments they have made. This is where social media is added into the process as you can share answers with a group via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. We liked this idea although found that hovering on the share button in our browser didn’t work because it overlapped other elements of the page.
Seeing answers from her friends and family pinging in for her lesson was a real thrill for my daughter. This, combined with creating the lesson herself, has given her a real appetite to learn more about the topic as well as find out how teaching works in general.
It’s this two-pronged benefit of empowering people of all ages and abilities to deliver learning, and then easily creating a community of learners around these lessons that makes TED-Ed a much more exciting proposition than it first seems.
For my family this has opened an unexpected door on fresh topics, and provided a practical route through this and into a new world where we all take responsibility for each others education regardless of age, experience or ability.