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New TED-Ed Site Turns YouTube Videos Into ‘Flipped’ Lessons

YouTube holds a rich trove of videos that could be used in the classroom, but it’s challenging to transform videos into a truly interactive part of a lesson. So the nonprofit group TED has unveiled a new Web site that it hopes will solve this problem—by organizing educational videos and letting professors “flip” them to enhance their lectures.

The new Web site, unveiled today, lets professors turn TED’s educational videos—as well as any video on YouTube—into interactive lessons inspired by the “flipped” classroom model. The site’s introduction is the second phase of an education-focused effort called TED-Ed, which began last month when the group released a series of highly produced, animated videos on a new YouTube channel.

The TED-Ed site is both a portal for finding education videos and a tool for flipping them. On one page, videos are organized by themes, such as the pursuit of happiness and inventions that shaped history. Instructors who want to use videos that are directly related to the subjects they teach can visit another page, where videos are organized in more traditional categories such as the arts and health.

TED’s videos are displayed on lesson pages that include multiple-choice quizzes, open-ended questions, and links to more information about the material. Professors who don’t want to rely on the premade content can press a button to flip the videos and customize some of the questions. With each flipped video, professors receive a unique Web link that they can use to distribute the lesson to students and track their answers.

And instructors don’t have to rely only on TED’s educational videos to make their lessons. A special tool can flip any video on YouTube, adding sections to a lesson page where professors can write free-form questions and create links to other resources.

Logan Smalley, TED-Ed’s director, noted that this feature is truly open—instructors could flip viral videos of cats if they wanted to, he said. He said his group wanted to leave the possibilities of flipped videos up to the people building the lessons.

“We didn’t want to limit what people might want to use to teach,” he said. He added that designers provide a way for users to flag any published lesson that they feel is inappropriate.

Michael S. Garver, a professor of marketing at Central Michigan University, has been testing the site and called it a tool to improve teaching that will bring more voices into the classroom. For the last seven years, Mr. Garver has been making his own videos, and he said the site will allow professors to turn videos created by experts into fresh lessons for class discussions.

“It’s kind of a way to showcase the talent around the country,” he said.

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by ceasedesist]

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