There’s a digital divide that exists between non-profit and for-profit companies. For some reason, while the tech business is flourishing and every industry is ‘going digital’ with more web and mobile presence, many non-profits keep operating in the same brick-and-mortar style as they did 20 years ago. However, in recent years there has been a push for some of the larger non-profits to bridge this digital divide, especially within the education sector.

Here are the top three digital education sites run by non-profits that we could be emulating in our industry:

1. TED Ed

The wildly-popular non-profit has been branching off into more than just large conferences and 18-minute-or-less speeches from some of our planet’s most brilliant minds. TED has been able to successfully translate its mission across various media – from video clips of TED Talks, to podcasts and local TEDx events – all the while ensuring their message about technology, education and design is seamless. Taking it to the next level of interactive education, TED Ed(ucation) provides educators and life-long learners with the ability to ‘flip’ any YouTube video into a learning experience, complete with lesson-reinforcing quizzes, the ability to customize a wiki page as well as lead a discussion about the activity.

I love that TED not only found its main product (TED Talks) but also found a way for it to be incorporated in various industries. Also, it’s worth mentioning that even adults could benefit from some interactive elements while digesting an 18-min talk about rocket science.

2. PBS Learning Media

Partnering with Boston’s WGBH station with a grant from the National Science Foundation, PBS is becoming the digital repository for partner content – from both prestigious educational non-profits and corporations like Boeing, The National Archives and NOVA. Like TED Ed, PBS allows teachers to customize the content they wish their students to engage, and also has great widgets for educators to use (such as a puzzle builder, quiz maker and storyboard tool) to enhance their online lessons.

With subjects that range from aerospace to photography, life-long learners of all ages can benefit from these professionally-sourced lessons.

3. Curiosity Machine

My latest digital learning obsession is Curiosity Machine, made by Iridescent Learning. As I’ve been working with an aerospace nonprofit, STEM has become increasingly prominent in informal education (as well as K-12 education). What they do better than TED or PBS, is be able to mimic the engineering design and process virtually. Although this platform does not provide a great deal of instruction and content, it allows the student to create projects that solve a problem, show their work, and receive feedback from industry mentors.

Each of these examples shows that the digital divide doesn’t have to exist in the non-profit world. It does take a lot of time, money and focused effort to achieve what those highlighted have, but with the proper resources, non-profits can produce a quality product that can compete with tech giants.

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