TED-Ed reflects local class flipping—use TED-Ed to help flip your classroom



e recently gave you a tour into Don Domes’s classroom at Hillsboro High School, and we talked about how he’s working to flip his classroom–assigning lectures as homework, giving him time to help his students with their assignments, in class.

Not every school has a program like this, unfortunately. And a lot of schools can’t convert because they don’t have the resources to design and build the program themselves.

So what if the resources were available online? What if there was a repository for lectures which teachers could assign for homework, so you could spend your class time asking tough questions to an expert–rather than asking your parents, checking Wikipedia, or just googling your questions?

We’ve seen this before with Khan Academy, which we think is great. Mr. Domes also uploads his lecture videos onto his Vimeo channel.

TED Education:

But today we’re going to talk about TED-Ed, a growing resource designed to combine the teacher-made design of Mr. Domes’s channel with the range of topics on Khan Academy.

To give you an idea of how it’s set up, check out one lecture of theirs which we really liked. It’s about the size of atoms. Video below.

Be sure to check out the actual lecture page, too.

Screenshot of the lecture page. The "flip this video" button is mainly for teachers, but basically lets you make your own lesson based around the lecture. This is great for teachers, so show this website to your science and engineering teachers!

Here’s what we like about the lecture page (which we linked to in the video caption):

  • Every lecture has a nice, catchy animation which illustrates the content.
  • There are Quick Quizzes which check just how much straight info you pulled from the lecture.
  • The “Think” questions actually have you do additional research, and are questions which basically see if you can play with the lecture concepts. Good if it’s a lecture you were interested in.
  • The “Dig Deeper” tab has creator-recommended links for additional reading, if you really like the lecture and want to become an expert.

But of course there are some drawbacks. If you’re willing to work with them, TED-Ed is a great resource. Here are our criticisms.

  • Answering the questions and flipping a video require a registered account. This actually isn’t so bad, since it’s made for students who need to see their teacher’s flipped lessons and save their answers–but it’s kind of a bother if you want to browse just for fun. Registering is free and pretty easy, though.
  • Some of the lectures are short. Also kind of a plus, because you’re not going to fall asleep. But it also means the lectures themselves don’t get very in depth.
  • In a search, you can’t view lectures by creator. This is really inconvenient if you’re looking for the videos your teacher made, or if you’re looking for a specific one.

But here’s what we like the best. Anyone can contribute. If you have any skills with flash animation, you could team up with your teacher while he or she gives a lecture on anything. Shakespeare, geography or, of course, engineering. And you could animate your teacher’s lecture, upload it to YouTube, and become a contributor. Doing that could help your teacher invert their classroom for the future, and will also help other schools by giving them the resources they need to flip their own classrooms.

Here’s what we want. You check out TED-Ed a little more, find a couple lectures you like, and show those to your science and engineering teachers. Tell your teachers that you want them to become contributors, and tell them about the wonders of the inverted classroom.

Read on:

Start simple, keep it simple.

If there’s one thing we can learn from past scientists, it’s that learning all the complexities of modern science can be seen as a necessary ordeal to understanding the universe simply. And that’s not to say that knowing esoteric scientific principles isn’t important, but that just that those principles aren’t the essence of engineering.

Part of coming up with a good solution is to keep the most important thing the most important thing. Focus on that and that only, and consider every complexity secondary—keep an open mind, in case the solution you start with isn’t the best one.

Check out this video from TED Education, by Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, talking about simple ideas leading to big things.

Having the capacity to be a good engineer just takes curiosity.
But even the world’s best mechanic needs tools.
Science education is your toolbox.

We’ve moved from learning that the world is round to studying the possibility of time travel and subatomic particles. We’ve moved from designing telescopes that can see the moon to telescopes that can see galaxies unfathomably far away. From discovering simple chemical reactions to discovering new states of matter. From designing internal-combustion-engine-cars to designing hydrogen-powered cars.

You can’t fight the fact that things might be more complex than they were in the past, but you can count on the fact that these complex designs probably started with something like, “I wonder if there’s a better way…”