I’ve often debated friends regarding the objective value of the internet when by-and-large, it seems constructed as less a democratic tool of information sharing and more a slick method by which companies can sell us things (in the end it is what you make of it). But every now and then a new website pops up that thankfully runs completely counter to that cynical view.
With the release of “TED-Ed,” the TED organization, already a bastion for thought-provoking dialogue, continues to cement its position as one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and interesting organizations producing online content. In short, TED-Ed is a site which offers compact educational, animated video lessons on any topic you can imagine, all of which are provided by top-ranked educators from around the world. As an added bonus, these lessons are accompanied by quizzes and links to further information.
TED-Ed’s mission is to provide educators and students anywhere with quick-and-easy references that can be incorporated into their lesson plans or supplement learning. Though the project is still in its Beta stages, there are about 60 videos already up and there are plans to continue expanding the offerings as rapidly as the TED team can produce them. One of my favorites so far is a lesson exploring the question, “How many universes are there?” And one of my favorite things about the project is that you can nominate an educator, animator, or lesson plan to help improve the site!
I’ve watched a lot of online educational videos (my favorite site is Academic Earth, which offers a collection of free videos of university course programs), but TED-Ed’s mission seems limitless in its ambition and resonance. In a time when crushing education costs are limiting and hotly debated, free sites providing quality information to anyone are priceless. I have little doubt that this could be of great use to many new teachers, as well as those great ones who are always willing to expand their teaching resources.
UPDATE (5/2): In a completely serendipitous discovery, The New York Times is running an article identifying newly-announced FREE online course offerings from some of the most renowned U.S. universities, including MIT, Harvard, Princeton, and more. Excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge abound!