Big Think Edge will keep you motivated and learning, but at a high price

Ellen McAlpine, CNN Underscored
Sat May 16, 2020

Big Think Edge is a site designed to bring you motivating and exciting video content from people at the top of their game. Think Bill Nye, Bryan Cranston and Diane Paulus.

A lifetime subscription costs $159.99, which might be pricey for some folks (and that's the sale price offered on the CNN Store). A shorter commitment to test a one-year subscription will run $29.99 (originally $50).

Big Think Edge updates its site with three exclusive lessons each week, so you're consistently receiving new content. Nye, Cranston and Paulus are just three of the 150 experts who offer their advice and knowledge.

The site isn't the most intuitive, even though the setup is simple.

There's a tab on the left side that will navigate you through your options. The home page shows featured lessons and provides a quick access to recent uploads and popular videos. On the left side, you'll find your navigation tools. Your options include Start Your Journey, Go Deeper, Discover and Live Streams.

We spent a week trying out the site, and while the quality of instructors and content make it a great option, it's not perfect. Here's everything Big Think Edge offers.

Start Your Journey

Click Start Your Journey to see a list of categories ranging from Lifelong Learning to Digital Fluency to Creativity.

If you hover over these broad categories you'll see smaller groups of videos with specific titles. If you click on a category, you'll find subcategories and thumbnails of videos above their titles.

For example, under Self Motivation, subcategories include Fear & Risk Taking, Persistence and Adaptability. Video titles include "Work with the Crowd" from comedian Lisa Lampanelli, "Lessons Learned from the set of Stanley Tucci" from — you guessed it — actor Stanley Tucci and "Knock on Lots of Doors" from John Paul Dejoria, the co-founder of Patron Spirits Company.

Once you've selected the video you want to watch, you're taken to a page that outlines what it covers.

You can also find a transcript, learning guides, a designated notes box and an option to rate the video out of 5 stars. You'll see a prompt and a submission box in the middle of the screen. This prompt is something to consider as you watch the videos, so you can submit your answers.

The video production is solid, with an extremely clear picture of the speaker against a blank background. It's nice that you're given prompts to consider while watching, which helped us stay engaged.

Go Deeper

If sifting through videos and titles isn't your ideal way of looking for lessons, you can choose Go Deeper.

These options are more text heavy, so you'll more read more than watch. The main categories — with the same titles as in Start Your Journey — are on the right side of the screen, so we almost missed them when we came to this page.

These articles are four-step guides to learning more about a topic.

The top of the screen will show your progression, marking steps with green check marks as you proceed. The steps are Get Smarter Faster, Significance, Relevance and Take Action. In the Take Action section, there are prompts and text boxes where you can type.

Again, this helps keep you engaged. You won't hit submit on anything, but the page will autosave your responses.

If you skip around and come back to this lesson, your answers will still be there. We liked this section since it provided an alternative to visual learning. You're not only diving deeper into a topic, but you're reading text that you can easily find again and you're answering multiple questions at the end, so you should retain more information.

Discovery

This is essentially just the home page. It displays featured, recent and popular videos, but you'll notice a big orange box on the screen, with no specific instructor, but a "Path."

It's different every time you visit the page, but it's always a broad category. For example: If you click on "Mindfulness & Meditation," you'll go to videos that fall under that category. This is a cool feature because it lets you explore a category you might have otherwise missed.

The only con to this section is that it only shows videos. We would have also liked to have seen articles from the Go Deeper section featured here. The combination of both videos and articles would have nicely rounded out the Discover section and given users options among the categories.

Live Streams

When you click on Live Streams, the page will look drastically different from the rest of the site.

While you're used to seeing thumbnails of videos, here they're listed by title with no visual. The titles appear with the instructor name at the end and the date recorded on the opposite side of the screen.

Big Think Edge continues to add live streams during quarantine, with the most recent dated May 14 and featuring Jeffrey D. Sachs, who discusses the Economics of Contagious Disease. We like that these lessons are current.

The Live Stream videos differ from the rest of the content on the site.

While the page looks the same (summary, rating, text prompt on the side, etc.) the video is a two-person discussion, in a live Q&A format. These sessions are monitored by Big Think Edge team members, along with industry professionals.

This is a welcome change from the rest of the site. The quality ranges, however, especially since people now film these live streams from their homes.

Nevertheless, it's awesome that Big Think Edge provides new live streams.

Bottom line

Big Think Edge offers a lot of quality content on a site that's easy to navigate after you get the hang of it. There are options on other video streaming sites, but you'll probably spend more time sifting through videos to find the best ones, rather than having them in front of you like they are on Big Think Edge.

A lifetime subscription is now on sale through the CNN Store for $159.99, with other subscription options on sale, if you're not looking to commit too much just yet.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.