Skip to main content

TED is a nonprofit organization that began more than 30 years ago as a way to bring Technology, Entertainment, and Design together to spread ideas and learning. Because TED talks are popular and are available in more than 100 languages, most people who spend time online have heard of them or have watched them.

TED Ed is a companion site to TED Talks that allows instructors and training leaders to create custom lessons around any TED Talk or YouTube video. Categories are broken down into:

  • The arts
  • Business and economics
  • Design, engineering, and technology
  • Health
  • Literature and language
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy and religion
  • Psychology
  • Science and technology
  • Social studies
  • Teaching and education
  • Thinking and learning
  • It can be a terrific supplement to your formal learning programs, allowing your team to watch captivating content that makes a useful and enjoyable change from more traditional learning material.

How to Start Using TED Ed

Creating lessons is easy. First, you need to register on the site or use your existing TED login if you have one. The second step is to find relevant talks and YouTube videos by searching on keywords, which could be a particular topic or a speaker you know about. When a talk that you’d like to include shows up, click on it to be taken to the Lesson Editor option. The Lesson Editor presents you with several options for shaping your lesson by adding multiple choice questions, free-form supplemental text, or discussion groups. You share lessons with your team by clicking the “flip this lesson” button.

Most pharma sales trainers will want to set lessons to “unlisted” at the top of the Lesson Creator screen. If you leave a lesson “listed” it’s viewable to the whole TED Ed community, which your competitor organizations may use as well. Once the lessons are made available, you can log into your account to find out data like how many team members have participated, and how many discussions have been started. You can set up email alerts that will automatically alert you only when there is activity on your lessons.

In-the-Moment Learning and Pharma Sales Training

Technology is evolving such that the pace of scientific and technological discoveries is accelerating, which means that existing knowledge can go stale much more quickly than it used to. In fact, “knowledge decay” is estimated at a rate of 15% per year. New information is constantly being delivered, and new knowledge is constantly necessary, particularly in tech-intensive fields like pharma. Yet overwhelming learners with information is a very real risk. Incorporating TED Talks and YouTube videos into ongoing training helps your team filter through the avalanche of information available and take advantage of small expanses of downtime or free time to learn “in the moment.”

In-the-moment learning is also effective when you consider the sheer amount of data competing for people’s attention and shrinking their attention spans. The rise in “bite-sized” learning on the job in recent years is no coincidence because studies are showing that this type of small, manageable learning experience can be more effective than monolithic learning sessions.

The Benefits of a Blended Learning Experience

The incorporation of TED Talks and YouTube videos helps you work toward a “blended” learning environment that addresses the needs of every type of learner, from those who do best with visual content to those who prefer audio to those who need “hands-on” learning. One of the main benefits of blended learning is that it can work better on a personal level, since every learner will access at least some content in his or her preferred format. Because blended learning can spark discussions, collaboration, and other interactions, it can keep e-learning from becoming isolating. Blended learning also offers tremendous flexibility in presenting subject matter, allowing trainers to reinforce information from one source with information from another source presented in a different way.

Using free resources like TED materials also contributes to the cost-effectiveness of your training, thus increasing your return on investment. In addition, it can also reduce necessary classroom time, or free up classroom time for learning that needs to be done in person.

TED Ed and the Flipped Classroom

The “flipped” classroom model is a product of the information age, and it reverses the traditional classroom model of presentation of information in the classroom (often in the form of a lecture) and student homework and projects completed outside the classroom. In the flipped classroom, learners access content outside the classroom, by, for example, watching a particular TED Talk. Then, when everyone convenes in the classroom, that time is used for discussion, working on activities that used to be done as homework (in an environment where it’s much easier get an instructor’s help), or otherwise collaborating and interacting to reinforce the material that was learned outside the classroom. If your organization wants to explore the flipped classroom concept, TED Ed can be a cost-effective way of trying it out.

The Constant Incremental Corporate Knowledge Base

Corporate training isn’t only dispensed in monolithic training sessions complete with PowerPoint decks and paper worksheets. Your team members are constantly encountering relevant information as they go about their work and everyday lives. The result, if team members are motivated and encouraged, is a constantly growing knowledge base that benefits the entire organization. Using resources like TED can be another effective, engaging way to build a more knowledgeable and competent team, whether they’re learning about a new type of technology or a better way of communicating with clients.

Today’s sales training bears little resemblance to the training that took place a generation ago. Now it’s more engaging, effective, and practical while delivering higher quality material at a more reasonable cost. While general purpose resources like TED can’t replace the training that pharma reps must undergo, these resources can be a terrific adjunct to subject matter content and inspire and motivate your team. Plus new talks are added all the time, so you can keep adding fresh content as you discover it or as it is needed in your training programs. While you’re exploring TED resources, why not check out our free resources for sales trainers? We’re confident that you’ll be inspired and motivated, and your trainees will thank you.