Lessons with animated videos: TED-Ed (part 2)

[You can read part 1 of this series on TED-Ed here.]

Yesterday, we learned that TED-Ed is one branch of TED. We also learned that TED-Ed’s main goal is to offer animated video lessons for use by educators in the classrooms. Let’s explore this concept a bit further today.

Evaluating one TED-Ed Lesson as a learning resource

I chose the TED-Ed Lesson on how sleeping is important for our memory

I showed this video to my adult students (academically at risk) as part of a lesson on short and long-term memory, in Fall 2016. I only used the video as one of the resources for the lesson I developed.

The video is great especially because of the visual explanations of how the brain works. Neurological concepts are hard to explain, and I am sure the video made my class not only more interesting but also easier to understand.

At that time, I did not explore the other resources (THINK, DIG DEEPER, and DISCUSS) available within this lesson.

Let’s analyze each one of the resources of this lesson together:

THINK: It is a series of questions about the video. I read the first question, but when I clicked on my answer, I got a message saying that I need to Register or Log In to take this lesson.

Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

I did not like to see that message at all. It decreased my motivation for taking the lesson. However, since I am analyzing the lesson, and the discussion tab also requests us to log in, let’s register! We can register/sign up with Facebook or email. I have a login for TED so I can use the same one. After logging in, TED-Ed asks me if I am a teacher, student, or other; what subjects I teach, and for what level I teach.

Okay, now I am ready to answer the questions!

There are five multiple-choice questions with five options each, and four short-answer questions. When choosing an answer to each question you can either save the answer or move to the next question. If you save each answer before moving to the next question, it tells you if it is right or wrong. If you move to the next question and save them all at the end, you get a “Thank you! All done.” message. So I don’t know if my answers were correct or incorrect, and it does not matter what I wrote on the short-answer questions, right? The lack of feedback made me not want to engage with those questions in future TED-Ed lessons. I felt that I wasted my time.

Image: iFanboy

Not happy with how the questionnaire ended, I went back to it and saved a wrong multiple-choice question. It shows me a video hint, the exact point in the video in which this is explained, and it allows me to try to answer it again. Great! However, the short-answer questions are not explained at all. Why include them, then? (Please, check the “customize this lesson” explanation below to understand the purpose of the THINK section. If you create a lesson, you can give feedback to your students, and this section will make more sense.)

DIG DEEPER: This section brings further information on the topic in the form of text with links to external sources such as Wikipedia, other TED-Ed lessons, news, TEDx talks, and scientific articles. To be honest, I wish I had taken the time to explore this section when I was developing my lesson on memory because it suggests great additional resources on the topic. Before Googling the topic, take a look at this section!

DISCUSS: In this lesson, there are three guided discussions and six seven open discussions (mine included). It is possible to answer the questions, flag the responses to the questions (as spam or inappropriate), or like them. It is also possible to write responses to comments. Beside your name, it will show if you completed the lesson already by the time you wrote a response or if it is still in progress. The guided questions were created by the lesson creator. The open questions can be created by anyone after login.

My overall opinion about this lesson:

  • The video itself is great for anybody, and it can be used in lessons about memory or about the importance of sleep.
  • The multiple-choice questions (THINK session) are good if you want your students to remember specific aspects of the video since they can watch again the exact part of the video that explains what they answered wrong. I would not ask my students to answer the short-answer questions on the website, but they could be used for group discussions in class.
  • The additional resources are great for teachers to learn more about the topic. I recommend exploring this section while developing your lesson.
  • The discussion section may give you extra suggestions on questions for in-class discussions on the topic. It can also be used if you want your students to engage in the conversation online.
  • It is not necessary to log in if you will only show the video to your students and if you don’t want to answer the questions or engage in the discussions. It is still possible to read everything without logging in.

To sum up, this is my opinion about each section of the TED-Ed lesson on The benefits of a good night’s sleep by Shai Marcu.


The best part of TED-Ed:

It is possible to customize the lessons. If you click on Customize This Lesson, you can change or crop the video, and change the title, description, questions, additional resources, and guided questions for discussion. In other words, you can change every single aspect of this lesson. When you publish the lesson, you get a link to share with your students; your customized lesson won’t be listed on the TED-Ed website. What is great about this is that you can monitor students’ responses and give them feedback.

Do you know what is even better? You can develop a lesson with any TED Original, TED Talk, or YouTube video using the TED-Ed website and lesson building tool. I will definitely use this tool for my classes!


Alright! Now we all know that we can use TED-Ed animated videos in our classes, but we can do much more with TED-Ed Lessons. We can learn more about the topics by clicking DIG DEEPER, find interesting questions for discussion through THINK, engage with other educators and share ideas at DISCUSS, and change a lesson or build our own at CUSTOMIZE THIS LESSON.

Tomorrow, we will wrap up this series on TED-Ed by discussing the usage policy of TED-Ed Lessons in our classrooms. See you tomorrow!

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