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Engaging students through TED talks

06/12/2017

Dr. Maria Habboushi recently decided to share a TED talk with her students, and she thinks the experience went very well! She wanted her choice of video content to be a basis for discussion and writing, since the course dealt with controversial issues and argumentative writing.

That was not the first time she has used this platform in the classroom. TED talks, the digital platform whose slogan is “ideas worth spreading” is just that! It is used by many as an active learning strategy. She hopes the students’ interest will be piqued by some of the topics discussed in the videos, and encouraged to explore them further through more research and writing.

The website, www.ted.com, has over 1,800 videos ranging in all kinds of topics in various disciplines, including education, business, and sciences to name a few. The videos are not more than 18 minutes long, with some even shorter. The topics are fascinating and inspiring, and some of them are flat out ingenious!

Since the culture of reading is not prevalent among most of the students in her area, Dr. Habboushi wants to bring the world to them. Apart from reading articles, she believes TED talks work even better. It is visual, it brings diversity to a fairly homogeneous student population, it features people from around the globe, it is authentic and relevant, and most of all, it deals with issues galvanizing individuals to take action.

Every time Dr. Habboushi wants to change the pace of the classroom or inspire her students about a global issue, she uses a TED talk. Usually, she prepares a worksheet involving multiple choice items, comprehension questions and/or open-ended questions to develop their critical thinking skills. Students then write an argumentative essay agreeing or disputing the ideas featured on the video. For EFL instructors, a website, TED4ESL is available. It is a platform where instructors can use and share lesson plans about the TED talks.

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