April 14, 2009

Dancing Bunnies Or Videos For Your Classroom

Whenever someone tells me, "Hey, check this out!", I usually just ignore them. It's usually another useless website that I'll immediately forget about, or a clever email forward that's only funny to people who are obsessed with cats, or a cute picture of a dancing bunny.

This picture is only funny to people who like cats.

The people who send these websites and emails my way have good intentions, and sometimes their recommendations are genuinely useful. But we're living in an era of complete information overload. We can't keep track of all of these great websites for teachers and funny cat pictures and dancing bunnies. In the 21st century, learning how to effectively ignore information is actually more important than learning how to find it.

Hey, Check This Out!

There is one great resource that you should definitely not ignore:

TED: Technology, Entertainment, and Design

This annual conference is held in California, and many of the speeches are available as free streaming video online. The conference includes such notable thinkers as: Burt Rutan, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell, Chris Anderson, Dan Ariely, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, and Stephen Hawking. The topics range from business and marketing to technology to sustainability to physics to psychology to economics, and of course, entertainment and design.

This is a chance to stream world-renowned thinkers, authors, and doers right into your classrooms. All of the talks are profound and will get you thinking about things in ways that you never have. There is sure to be a video you can use regardless of which subject you teach. I recently showed the following three videos in marketing class, and the students were hooked.

Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce
Seth Godin: Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights
Chris Anderson: Technology's Long Tail

Another great resource is Google Tech Talks. Google invites leaders in business and academia to speak at its Googleplex campus. These videos usually run an hour in length, and I've found several relevant talks here for my business classes, too. There are many videos of authors summarizing their new books. One particularly interesting video is this one of Barry Schwartz discussing the Paradox of Choice.

So – check out these great resources! And don't put them into your dancing bunnies folder.

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