Interactive Video (Part One): Flipping at TED-ed

You, like me, have spent a fair amount of time watching on-line videos. Who can blame us? When we need a break from grading, routines, or vacuuming, lovely owlstalking dogs, or five people playing one guitar are irresistible draws. Of course, video can be a powerful teaching tool, too. You surely are amazed by my obvious commentary. No? Well, let me try another tactic.


Two free online tools—Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker and TED-ed’s Flipped Interface—can make online videos more interactive. I am still in the early stages of experimentation with both, and my students are using the tools, so my opinions are still very much developing. Yet, at this nascent stage, I am intrigued (and harbor some minor reservations). In this post I will focus on the TED-ed channel’s “flip” interface.


You have probably already been to TED-ed. If not, stop reading this. Go there now. I’ll see you in a few hours.

TED-ed is a valuable resource for classroom teachers, a nicely edited platform with many visually arresting videos on a variety of topics. The “flipped” videos already have comprehension questions and supplemental resources built in.



I like how easy it is to create your own professional looking flips. The interface is sleek and intuitive. It’s a snap to create multiple choice or open response questions that can gauge how well a viewer understands the content of a video.


Using a video I had already created, it took me about an hour to create my first flip. I now have a much better idea of my students’ understanding of this introductory video. Previously, I asked students to view the video and then used class time to informally assess their understanding.

Descriptive Writing in Simple Terms (flipped at TED-ed)

Of course, I will still use class time to develop their understanding of descriptive writing. No five-minute video can really impact a student’s writing style all that much. But, I can now get more information about their initial understanding before they walk through the door. Class time just got more efficient.

Overall, I see the following pros and cons of the TED-ed flipping platform:


  • Interface is easy to use.
  • The finished product has a sleek, professional look.
  • It is very easy to modify other people’s work.
  • The ability to add a time marker after an incorrect answer allows for instant feedback.
  • Flipped videos become an even more effective teaching tool when students create them.
  • I love, love, love amplifying our work beyond our classroom walls. Publishing work to TED gives us an audience we could never have before.
  • The TED-ed team if very responsive. I gave them one suggestion about changing the way creators viewed the answers that viewers provided, and within a week they took my suggestion and made it a reality. They have responded to any question I have within the hour.


  • In the end, the THINK section is a quiz. I can make these quizzes more challenging or open-ended by creating free response questions, but I would love even more flexibility in the format answers could take. Responses could be drawn in a pop-up window, or viewers could attach images, audio, or video as an answer. For a better sense of what I mean, check out this review of Infuse Learning and Socrative over at History Tech.
  • I wish viewers could mark up the video (similar to what can be done on VoiceThread or the like).
  • I want to be able to embed the flipped videos elsewhere.

The pros easily outweigh the cons, so I will certainly continue to use this tool. I hope you will, too. Share links to your work, and I will certainly send my students your way.


In Interactive Video (Part Two) I will review Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, another free online interface that works quite differently than TED-ed, allowing for a full “remix” of online video.

Robin Neal

Robin Neal

Educator at Beaver Country Day School

Robin Neal teaches English at Beaver Country Day School, a progressive, independent school in the Boston area. He has also taught in public and international schools and has experience at all levels from grades 6-12. He is particularly interested in technology in the classroom and how it can be used to create more dynamic, authentic educational experiences.

  • Hi Robin,

    I really enjoyed your post about interactive video. As a Flipped Classroom teacher I have been looking at my videos with a critical eye and wondering who I could make them more interactive as well. I noticed my videos were a passive learning experience where every other aspect of my practice was about students being engaged and getting their hands dirty with the curriculum.

    With the use of Camtasia from TechSmith I played around and created an interactive instructional video for my students. My focus was to help tailor an experience for my students based on their educational needs…Anyways, here is the video if you are interested: Here is also a blog about it:

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  • Thanks so much for sharing, Graham. I’m really excited about using Camtasia. My students and I were just trying to figure out how to do what you’ve already done.