Ways to Include TED Talks in the Classroom

Ways to Include TED Talks in the Classroom


Image by urban_data: https://www.flickr.com/photos/urban_data/

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a non-profit organization that provides a platform to people from various cultures, races and religion to speak on a wide range of topics. The motto of this organization is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ which is essentially the basic concept behind each talk. The topics covered in these TED talks include science, business, relationships, global crisis, art, music and much more in over 100 languages.

TED being a global community, the talks presented have the power to appeal to anyone watching, regardless of his culture or discipline. These talks are immensely influential and inspiring and help provide a better understanding of the world around us. They portray the potential that ideas have to change the way we think and execute tasks, for the better.

Every TED talk is educational. They continue for about 18 minutes or less and always encourage us to push ourselves as far to the better and brighter side as possible. So, TED talks are wonderful learning tools. In addition, they are valuable sources of information in every field of study. Therefore they can be effectively incorporated in the classroom to make learning more interactive and engaging.

A TED talk is as resourceful and comprehensive as any lecture and could be used to supplement classroom teaching. If you are a teacher looking out for newer ways to make education more enriching for you students, then you can consider including TED talks in your classroom. In this article, we have enlisted a few ways that can help you implement this successfully. Let’s find out.

 Play Subject-Specific TED Talks

Learning becomes all the more fun and engaging when interactive elements are involved in teaching. The video recordings of TED talks could be just what you need to spruce up your lessons and take them a notch higher. TED talks span quite a large number of subjects and topics. All you need to do is visit the TED website and type in what you are looking for in the search bar. Each of the results is unique.

Let’s take Geography as an example. In the following video, global theorist, Parag Khanna explains the cause of conflicts through the usage of maps of the present as well as the past. There is so much to learn from this video. Your students might even get some insights into how to come up with simple solutions for these problems.

Here’s another one that might help in a Geography class.

TED Talks to Teach a Skill

Covering the syllabus and scoring high grades is not enough to deal with the world outside the classroom. Students need to acquire certain life skills to face the challenges that might come their way. Be it in their personal or professional lives, difficult situations may arise at some point or the other. It is the ability to handle these tactfully that would make your students invincible. Not just that, these skills help in building character, too. And the foundation of these skills is set in school. What can be a better way to guide them through that, than TED talks?

Some of the life skills could include leadership, time management, communication, organization, problem-solving and even memory. There is an ample number of TED talks that can help in building these. You can pick one life skill every week and among the many activities that you design for building it, you can include a related TED talk to move along.

For example, the following talk by leadership educator, Drew Dudley, demonstrates the many aspects of leadership.

Employing TED Talks to Initiate a Classroom Debate

TED talks are quite motivating and urge us to find our own voices regarding the topics covered. Therefore, they are incredible tools for initiating a classroom discussion or even a debate. You can show your students a TED talk regarding a general topic, pose a question and then let your students take it from there.

Here‘s an excellent example that describes an experience of Olivia Cucinotta when her high school teacher asked the class to watch a TED talk on love after they had finished reading the book, Madame Bovary. What ensued in the next class was a productive and engaging discussion. The following video is the TED



TED talks leave a lot of room for imagination. So it wouldn’t be difficult for your students to weave new theories or apply whatever knowledge they have acquired, around the topic of discussion.

Utilizing TED-Ed

TED-Ed is an ingenious platform that allows you to create lessons around any YouTube video, TED talk or even any TED-Ed original. Once you land on the page, it is time to get creative.

The first step is to click on ‘Create a Lesson’ at the top of the page. Once you find a suitable video to build your lesson around, you paste the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the video in the search bar and select the appropriate video among the results that pop up. Next in line is launching the video editor. This is where all the magic happens. You can edit the video by adding notes, additional information, resources, questions and so on to the video wherever you deem fit.

Once the customized video lesson is ready, you can share it with the class. You can also build a creative assignment around it. Additionally, you can also browse through the TED-Ed library to locate a pre-created video that could be useful for your class.

The following video on clouds and their naming has been created through the TED-Ed platform.

Conduct a Classroom TED Talk

Yes, TED talks are pretty amazing and inspiring to listen to, but what if your students could be a part of them? You could arrange for a classroom TED talk session with your students where you assign a topic and ask students to come up to the front of the class and share their perspectives individually while they are recorded. You can recreate a similar ambiance of that of a real TED talk by putting a spotlight on the speaker, while the rest of the students sit at their desks as the audience and listen attentively.

You can turn this into an assignment by marking each student on his/her performance. You can also send the video recordings to the students for them to view later. Additionally, you can also conduct a class after the talks for any discussion or doubt-clearing session that might be required.

Another idea would be to assign characters from the topic you are covering in class to each of your students and let them talk from the characters’ perspectives. If you could pull this off, it would be a really interesting session.

TED Talks for Professional Development

Professional development is enormously important to keep yourself up-to-date about the latest developments in your field of work and also learn effective tips on how to make your job more fulfilling and effective. Many schools across the world conduct professional development classes for teachers to help them upgrade their skills. For your homework, you can take help from the various TED talks on professional development.

One of my personal favorites is the TED talk ‘Every kid needs a champion’ by the late educator, Rita Pierson. She appeals to all educators to connect with their students on a more human level. Only then will they find the interest and enthusiasm to learn. “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like”, she says. In this talk, she speaks about an incident where she put a +2 and a smiley face on a student’s paper who got the rest 18 answers wrong in an exam. When he came up to her and asked why she put a smiley face when the marks indicated an ‘F’ grade, she said, “Because you’re on a roll. You got two right. You didn’t miss them all.” In the talk, she adds, “You see, ‘-18’ sucks all the life out of you.’+2’ said, ‘I ain’t all bad.’”

Watch the talk in the following video.

With TED talks, there is an enormous number of opportunities waiting to be explored. They have the potential with which to make any lesson exciting and a more enriching experience. You can add your own ideas to incorporate TED talks in your classroom.

Would you like to add any other ways of including TED talks in the classroom? Share those with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.



Learnpick is an online marketplace for all kinds of tutoring and learning services. We provide a platform to help learners find home tutors, online tutors, expert trainers,tutorial centers, training institutes and online tutoring schools. Learners can also find local classes, workshops, online courses and tutorials on a huge variety of topics.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *