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Using TED Conversations in the Classroom

Apr 10, 2012

TED Conversations are becoming an extremely popular tool used for teachers in the classroom. If you remember our last Video Pick, we heard from a Calgary based teacher already using TED talks in the classroom. Last week, TED.com featured a post from TED Fellow Nina Tandon on using TED Conversations in the classroom. Nina describes her experience:

When we first started, I was worried most about coming up with topics with the right balance between being general enough to relate to the TED community and yet specific enough to relate to class material. I decided to just be upfront about this with my students and to ask them each week to check in and let us know their thoughts. I’ve noticed that as weeks go by that the students are having more and more fun with coming up with these types of questions. One common way we traverse between the “super specific” and the “general” is via analogy. One student last week, for example, hosted a conversation loosely based on an analogy to muscle fibers. He’d noted that we have different types of muscle fibers with different “specialties”: fast twitch and slow twitch — so he drew an analogy to collaboration between specialists and asked: “Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?” I could never have predicted conversations like this to come out of my class, but am so heartened to see it happen!

If you’re unfamiliar with TED Conversations, there’s no better time than now for that to change. TED.com’s recently launched platform exists to facilitate conversations by providing three ways for you to engage: through ideasquestions and debates. The new social media platform on TED.com connects people for conversation, collaboration and debate. TED Conversations was designed and built from the ground-up to foster meaningful conversation among the global community — more than 15 million monthly users — who visit TED.com and watch TED talks online.

Some key features include:

Conversation categories
By asking a question, you can tap into the expertise of the TED community. By proposing an idea, you can elicit constructive feedback. And by initiating a debate, you can lay out a key issue for spirited discussion.

Time-boxed conversations
Whether it’s one day or one month, TED Conversations are assigned an expiration date to keep the discussion sharp and on-topic.

Link conversations to one of the 800+ TED Talks
So users can ask a question, debate an issue or propose an idea that was sparked by watching one or more TED Talks.

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