TED Ed – Evaluating an Open Education Resource

This week we were tasked with the option to evaluate Open Education Resource Repositories. It turned out this task which on the surface sounds simple, but is really quite complicated due to the vast nature of these resources. Sit down, (maybe grab a hot or cold beverage) and settle in – I have a lot to share!

What is an open educational resource?

To break it down, let’s start with what is an OER. According to Open Learn,

The term ‘open educational resource’ is one that encompasses a broad range of items. It can describe a single image or an entire short course, and materials can be in any medium or a mixture. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has defined OERs as ‘digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research.

I liked this definition when I came across it while looking through The Open Learning Universities webpage. They sum up the concept of any open learning resource as content that is licenced in a way that does not only allow use – but actually encourages adaptation.

Are all OER’s created equal?

After exploring around 10 different repositories over the course of this week and I comfortably report to you – that no, not all OER resources are (or start out being) as useful, thoughtful, or comprehensive as others. And it seems there are many reasons for this. Some OER repositories are added to by members, all with their own idea of what makes good resources, or their own standards for what they would use in education. Other OER repositories (such as TED ED) are curated by the company, and collaborated on with professional animators and have a more cohesive and visually appealing overall look. I suspect a lot of this has to do with the funding in place for the creation of the resource. TED Ed for example is one facet of the much larger and very successful TED non-profit organization therefore it seems their work receives a lot of funding by way of donation to any of their heavily trafficked websites. Finally, not all Open Education Resources will be helpful to every person’s needs. For example, I began this week thinking I might like to evaluate Open Learn – from Open University. I had located on their database a course – specifically to learn all about Open Education Resources. It was a free course, introductory level with seven modules, one Quiz and a list of resources. The website suggested it was about 15 hours of study but I had it about halfway through in 4 hours. This course – for my purpose as a graduate student looking for additional information on a topic for my current class was incredibly helpful. When I began to look around at the repository outside of that particular course, to be honest, I was a whole lot less interested. The webpage has a wonderful offering for anyone wanting professional development, or personal learning – kind of like adult education courses or a self-guided master class. I when looking through this resource I found it hard to suspend my teacher-brain that was always thinking of ways OER’s can benefit students directly rather than indirectly, and I just could not see Open Learn being used with students, so I decided to look elsewhere for a resource I could explore with students in mind.

Evaluating OER Resources

When looking at an OER the first step of evaluating whether it is a resource you may want to utilize there are several helpful online rubrics, like this one developed by Sarah Morehouse, or this much shorter and more simple checklist adapted from Kirkwood Community College. One helpful insight I took away from my Open Learning course on Open University was the course administrators advice on criteria to use to evaluate an Open Education Resource. Once you have identified that you have found an OER, and it’s the right one for your use, the next step of evaluating that resource is determining its quality. The Open University Course suggests the following criteria for users to consider:

via the Open University

After I spent some time browsing the list of Respositiories that our EC&I class was given to consider I found TED Ed. The TED organization has a good reputation, and is well known. Their Ed website had a high degree of technical production and for the purpose of finding an OER I might use with students, fitted my purpose perfectly. I decided to take a closer look.

Because I found it easier to consider other blogger’s reviews of OER when they included screen captures of the websites I decided to post a tour of the webpage and a response to some of the following questions as videos below so you too can take a look at TED Ed for yourself.

It is user-friendly? Is it easy to navigate/search? Is it easy to use?

Are the resources typically of high-quality? Is it visually appealing?

Would it be valuable to educators that you work with?

What do you think:

  • How do you feel about your ability to identify and evaulate OER’s for use in your classrooms?
  • How can you envision TED Ed being used with your students?


2 thoughts on “TED Ed – Evaluating an Open Education Resource”

  1. Victoria, you have done a great job here discussing OERs and more specifically TED Ed. I also appreciate the high-quality videos and the numerous extension activities that are available to teachers and students.
    I have enjoyed the time spent digging into OERs and feel that it would be worthwhile to have more discussions about OERs with my staff. Often teachers feel pressure or restrictions from time and wish they had more time to find or develop the perfect learning resources. I feel that if an Open Education Resource is not quick and easy to find resources, that many teachers will just move on to a different platform or end up going to sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. Therefore, Education leaders and teachers need to do more to promote websites and resources like TED Ed that are easy to navigate and have high impact learning resources.


  2. To be 100% honest, I still don’t think that I am an expert in the OER category right now. Although I did some research into it, I still have some confusion around it and the difference between free and OER. I am sure with more practice I may be better at differentiating between the two, but I still think that I need a lot more practice and education around it. I do hope that it becomes more of an adopted and practiced philosophy in K-8 education especially. Thanks for the question, it was very thought-provoking!


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