What Is TED-Ed And How Does It Work For Education?

(Image credit: TED-Ed)

TED-Ed is the school education-focused arm of the TED video creation platform. This means it is filled with educational videos that can be used by teachers to create engaging lessons. 

Unlike a video found on YouTube, say, those on TED-Ed can be made into a lesson by adding follow-up questions that students are required to answer in order to show they have learned from watching.

Lessons range across ages and cover a wide variety of topics, including both curriculum-based and off-curriculum materials. The ability to create customized lessons, or use those of others, makes this a great tool for both in-class use and remote learning.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about TED-Ed in education.

What is TED-Ed?

TED-Ed follows on from the original TED Talks speaker platform that pioneered the perfectly presented talks of big thinkers from across the globe. Standing for Technology, Entertainment, Design, the TED moniker has grown to include all areas of interest and now spans the world with an ever-growing library.

TED-Ed similarly offers very polished videos that have gone through a strict process of checks before earning that TED-Ed logo in the top right. If you're seeing that then you know this is student-friendly and accurately fact-checked content.


(Image credit: TED-Ed)

TED-Ed Originals content is made up of short, award-winning videos. These are animated to make often difficult or potentially heavy-going subjects highly engaging for students. These come from leaders in their fields, including animators, screenwriters, educators, directors, academic researchers, science writers, historians, and journalists.

At the time of writing, there are more than 250,000 teachers involved in the global TED-Ed network, creating the resources to help educate students, of which there are millions benefitting worldwide.

How does TED-Ed work?

TED-Ed is a web-based platform that offers video content that is primarily stored on YouTube so it can be easily shared and even integrated with Google Classroom. 

The TED-Ed difference is the website's offering of TED-Ed Lessons, in which teachers can create a lesson plan with personalized questions and discussions for students, remotely or in the classroom. This not only ensures the videos are watched by students but also that they are absorbing the content and learning.


(Image credit: TED-Ed)

The TED-Ed website, where all these options are available, breaks the content down into four sections: Watch, Think, Dig Deeper, and Discuss.

Watch, as you'd imagine, is where the student can bring up the video to watch in a window or full-screen, on their device of choice. Since it is web-based and on YouTube, these are easily accessible even on older devices or poorer internet connections.

Think is the section in which questions can be posed to students to see if they've assimilated the video messages. It allows for multiple choice answers so as to facilitate a trial-and-error based approach that can be navigated independently, even remotely.

Dig Deeper offers a listing of additional resources related to the video or topic. This can be a helpful way to set homework based on the video, perhaps to prep for the next lesson.

Discuss is a place for guided and open-ended discussion questions. So unlike the multiple choice Think section, it allows students to share more fluidly how the video has affected their thoughts on the subject and areas around it.

What are the best TED-Ed features?

TED-Ed goes beyond the video content to offer a wider platform of engagement. TED-Ed Clubs is one of these.

The TED-Ed Clubs program helps students to create TED-style talks to encourage research, discovery, exploration, and presentation skills. These videos can be uploaded to the platform, and twice annually the most compelling speakers are invited to present in New York (under normal circumstances). Each club also has access to TED-Ed's flexible public speaking curriculum and the opportunity to connect with others in the network.

Educators can register for the chance to be part of a program, which, if picked, lets them give their own talks to share their unique knowledge and perspective. 

The only obvious downside is a lack of sectionalized standards-based curricula content. Having a section that shows this, in search, would be a very useful feature for many teachers.

How much does TED-Ed cost?

TED-Ed is totally free to use. All of the video content is made freely available and is both on the TED-Ed website as well as on YouTube.

Everything can be shared freely and lessons created using videos can be shared with other users of the platform. A host of free planned lesson content is also available for use on the TED-Ed website. 

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.