The 2013 TED Prize winner is the charismatic, deadly smart Sugata Mitra, whose TED-prize wish is to build a School in the Cloud that supports students around the world to engage in in self-organized learning.
What's the risk to TED? Sugata (I've had a few drinks with him, I'm comfortable calling him "Sugata" although he'd probably call me, "Who?") notoriously avoids serious experimental assessments of the hole-in-the-wall computer, has proposed self-organizing learning as a cure for almost all educational and social ills (e.g., growth of terrorism among rural South Asian youth), and is following in the questionable footsteps of Nicholas Negroponte in postulating the benefits of teacher-less (teacher-free?) learning.
Fine enough, let's drop a $1 million on this experiment. Sugata might be the only person who can pull it off, based on his experience, notoriety and single-minded pursuit of learning for the unschooled.
But it's a prestigious award. Is there follow-up? If the resuts are lousy are we asked to say, "Ah, well, it was high-risk, after all"?
But my main question is, Is there any risk to TED's prestige? Next time they drop their award on an outlier-awardee will people again toot the horns of celebration, or will they get that sense of deja vú all over again?