TED-Ed Offers Students a Chance to Explore ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’
February 14, 2014
Cultivating a new generation of TED talkers.
Focused on spreading technology, entertainment and design ideas, the nonprofit TED got its roots 30 years ago as a single conference centered on that mission. Since 1984, the organization has expanded to include two annual conferences (the TED Conference and TEDGlobal), the TED Talks video website, the Open Translation Project, TED Conversations, TED Fellows, TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.
This year, TED-Ed – the educational initiative of TED Conferences – launched TED-Ed Clubs. With the goal of cultivating a new generation of TED talkers, this new initiative aims to promote “presentation literacy” among students around the world. TED-Ed Clubs, piloted in over 100 schools worldwide in 2013, provide a free and flexible framework for students—in traditional and non-traditional education environments—to discuss, pursue, prepare, and present their big ideas.
The end goal is for members to deliver their own short, TED-style talks and other students can edit the videos. Parents, educators, and administrators can get students involved with TED-Ed Clubs by visiting http://ed.ted.com/clubs online. The clubs are open to students ages 8 though 18 and require a minimum of one adult educator per club.
“We’re always seeking new ways to help support and amplify the voices of both teachers and students,” says Stephanie Lo, director of TED-Ed programs. “We started TED-Ed clubs to celebrate the creative ideas of students around the world and to help them present their innovative ideas.”
Developing Storytelling and Presentation Skills
TED-Ed began piloting TED-Ed Clubs in July 2013. Since then, school groups in more than 20 countries have participated in the pilot program and more than 1,000 groups have registered interest in starting a club on the TED-Ed website. Throughout the pilot, TED-Ed Clubs have seen impressive student engagement, particularly among those less apt to participate in a classroom setting.
Open to students ages 8 though 18, TED-Ed Clubs require a minimum of one adult educator per club. The goal is for club members to present their ideas to their peers in a TED-style talk and—with the permission of students, teachers, and parents—nominate exceptional presentations to be featured on the TED-Ed website. Some young speakers may be invited to attend and present at global TEDYouth conferences.
TED-Ed is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. The growing TED-Ed video library features carefully-curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. The TED-Ed website allows educators to tailor any video found online—including original TED-Ed video content— to create customized lesson plans, distribute the videos publicly or privately, and monitor students’ progress.
Answering the Call
According to Lo, TED-Ed clubs were introduced based on requests from the technology community – which was seeking talks that were relevant to subjects being taught in the classroom. Using TED-Ed’s existing platform – which comprises more than 400 short, 3-minute video lessons on a variety of middle- and high-school subjects – the organization launched the clubs in answer to that demand.
“We have assembled supporting materials that help groups of students around the world research and present their ideas,” says Lo.
While both students and their teacher-facilitators are encouraged to “get creative” with their projects, Lo says the ultimate goal is to present a single idea within a specific cycle. Consider, for example, the student who was sitting in the backseat of an automobile and thinking about potential accidents. She decided to look into the idea of electromagnetism, says Lo, and whether that could impact accidents. Another student who was suffering from a history of shyness put her efforts into figuring out the history of the condition and why people are shy to begin with.
“Our goal is to support students who have these ideas – which may or may not link directly to their classroom subjects,” Lo says, “and give them ways to explore those concepts and share them with one another in groups and with the world.”
Participants need not bring any special skill sets to the table, says Lo, but they must have a healthy curiosity about one or more subjects and the willingness to explore those subjects beyond basic research and reading.
In the ideal situation, Lo says a single student will collaborate with one or more of his or her peers and build upon one another’s strengths. One pupil may be good at web research, for example, while another may be better at presenting topics and concepts to a group.
“Our hope is that as a result of being a part of our clubs, students will not only explore and become further engaged in classroom learning, but they will also build up their individual research and leadership skills,” says Lo.
The Road Ahead
Lo says charter school leaders are in a prime position to get involved with both TED-Ed and its clubs. As a starting point, she says teachers can use the former as a platform for animating lessons and collaborating with other instructors to create relevant and useful learning content.
“We’re very excited to have facilitators sign up and apply,” says Lo. “It’s a very simple process, but to work it requires leaders who can help orchestrate it – be it individual teachers or entire schools.”
When asked how TED handles privacy concerns surrounding the publication of TED-Ed Club talks by students, Lo says the organization oversees both the final presentation and the preparation of the talks. It also uses a media agreement that keeps parents in the loop on exactly what is being produced and where it will be published.
“Our entire team has been involved with the education space, so we’re highly sensitive of the need to create a safe environment,” says Lo. “The content doesn’t go out to a public audience without first being nominated via our system, and without obtaining the direct permission of the students and teachers who are involved.”
Going forward, Lo says TED plans to continue growing the annual TED Youth Conference – a direct offshoot of the TED-Ed Clubs.
“Our conferences have been largely focused on adult participation, but for the last three years we’ve also been holding very successful TED Youth Conferences in New York and New Orleans,” says Lo, who expects more TED-Ed Club members to participate in such events over the next few years. “Students who create presentations for their clubs could become great speakers for the conferences and help to infuse more youthful viewpoints and contributions into our events.”