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TED, Known For Big-Idea Conferences, Pushes Into Education

Long Beach, Calif.—The leaders of the annual TED conference, known for featuring short, carefully prepared talks on big ideas about technology and society, hope to apply their approach to education.

This week they announced TED-Ed, which will provide a hand-picked set of free online educational talks (expected to be even shorter than the conference talks), many submitted by educators themselves but enhanced by TED officials. An online forum, the Ted-Ed Brain Trust, will encourage discussion of how to reform teaching using the videos and other technology.

The system is not up yet, but the online forum is scheduled to open as early as next week, says Logan Smalley, whose title is TED-Ed catalyst. The videos will be added in the coming months, he says.

The project will also create an updated listing of the more than 900 existing TED talks, arranging them by categories that align more neatly to academic disciplines. Typical categories now feature generic headings, like “mind blowing,” and “knowledge revolution,” which Mr. Smalley acknowledges are not all that useful to professors looking for the right talk to add to their lectures.

TED—it’s short for“Technology, Entertainment, Design”—started back in the 1980s and has grown into something of a media venture, distributing its talks free online. The main event itself is a glitzy affair, with a hefty price tag.

Its new educational effort will have competition. The market is already crowded with education-related video-libraries, including TeacherTube, Big Think, and a section of YouTube.

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