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

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.