TED-Ed. A resource for facilitating learning outside of the classroom?

Working to bring technology into the classroom often feels like a blessing and a headache. As a professor, I continually want to do better, and that includes utilizing technology to effectively further learning goals, outcomes, and classroom organization and management. The University of Portland considers “wanting to do better” a tenet of the reflective teacher  (and I do too); always being willing (and able) to turn inward and examine current practices, traditions, norms, and routines is integral to my teaching practice. I use my Google reader, RSS feed, and email subscriptions to follow blogs and news related to pedagogy and technology to try to manage the headache of keeping up with new technology and ways to implement it. One publication that I follow is The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog. It is great; its tagline is “the latest news on tech and education.” I recommend it to anyone in the teaching profession at any level.

About a month ago, Wired Campus highlighted news about TED (a nonprofit dedicated to showcasing “ideas worth spreading”) finally launching TED-Ed, a portal and YouTube channel specifically designed for teachers and professors to find educational videos to utilize in the classroom. In addition, at the end of April, TED-Ed became its own website where professors may find interactive videos for classroom material. This was intriguing for many reasons, but caught my eye because in our Academic Technology Roundtable meetings we have often discussed the concept of the “flipped classroom,” where professors use technology to teach or lecture or demonstrate outside of the classroom and the classroom becomes more of a place for discussion, group work, and direct interaction because students have received the “lecture” outside of class.

I’ve thought about the concept of capturing my lectures on video and having those be the homework students watch before coming to class and then the valuable classroom time becomes a place for more interaction, but I haven’t been able to conceptualize lecturing, or delivering material, without interacting with students through questions and points students bring up during the lecture. However, this new website got me thinking again that perhaps the power wouldn’t be in using my own lectures as outside classroom material, but those of others…that, in fact, students enrolled in my courses could benefit from multiple professor’s expert perspectives on an issue. I already do this to a certain extent, as I bring in outside YouTube videos, current news, etc. to supplement classroom points, but I primarily utilize these resources during class, as I appreciate and see the value in the comments these multimedia and current events often solicit and the discussion they often instigate.

So, check it out. Ted-Ed. We always have to be thinking and questioning how we can do better. Perhaps there are some materials on this website worth utilizing to enrich and further learning outside of the classroom.

University of Portland

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