I came across a blog post on The History Teacher’s Attic which organized TED Talks by educational discipline and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The interesting part is that the post is based on a Google Docs Spreadsheet containing information on every TED Talk through July 29, 2009. The thing I like most about this post is the potential in this spreadsheet.
First, most TED Talks are fascinating (Johnny Lee’s talk introduced the world to the Wii-based $50 interactive whiteboard) and authentic audio resources for advanced ESL students. Having one central resource with overviews of all talks, is very useful for an ESL teacher.
Second, Google Docs can be very useful tools for collaboration. Because they are cloud-based, anyone can access and edit documents via a web browser. By opening up the document for anyone to edit, the work of compiling all of the information can be distributed to many people. For example, this list of educators on Twitter spreadsheet was crowdsourced, meaning many people did a little bit of work to build what is a pretty extensive list.
And once the spreadsheet has enough information, it can be mashed up in useful new ways. For example, this mashup, created using MIT’s Exhibit, makes the information in the TED Talks Google Docs spreadsheet sortable and searchable. Other examples include Flags of the World, which combines flag images from Wikipedia and a Google Map, and US presidents, which includes a timeline, map, images, and facts about each president such as religion and political party.
So, at this point, I’m ready to begin the new project of collecting and compiling some of my favorite resources into larger, crowdsourced, mashable meta-resources. I’m going to start with a wide-open Google Docs spreadsheet, and then try my hand at different mashups. But, before I begin, here are some questions I’m trying to answer. (Feel free to supply your answers by commenting on this post.)
First, what resource(s) should be compiled? TED Talks seem to be relatively well covered, but how about a similar resource for This American Life episodes, stories from The Moth live storytelling events, YouTube videos (EDU or otherwise), or other resources? Should the meta-resource be targeted to ESL / EFL teachers or all educators? And finally, what information should be included? A link to the resource, the title, duration and a synopsis are obvious details, but what else? Maybe keywords or tags as a way to organize them, the goegraphic location of where the story takes place, a warning system for language or content not appropriate for the classroom, and links to related resources in case students want to explore particular topics further.
So, consider this a call to action. I’m going to solicit lots of feedback and then begin. Once underway, I’m going to solicit more help. With a little crowdsourcing, we can grow some really interesting and useful resources.