How to Use TED Talks to Enhance Continuing Education Programs

TED (Technology, Education, Design) Talks are brief videos, usually 4 to 10 minutes in length, that share ideas and information about a topic. These talks are typically engaging and high-interest for viewers and have many applications for continuing education.

The TED-Ed website is designed to encourage continuing education both on an individual basis and in group settings where teachers use the material as part of a lesson plan. All TED-Ed videos have a multiple choice quiz included, and teachers can also make up questions and share them with other educators to provide even more resources that make them easier to use.

Options to customize a lesson right on the website make it easy to adapt content for use in any classroom, and videos can help keep students’ interest better than straight lecture or reading materials. Videos can also be used to reinforce points from lectures or reading assignments and allow students to build on prior knowledge, which improves retention.

Flip a Video Option

TED-Ed original content consists of animated videos that illuminate a topic. Educators can use an option called “flipping” a video, which allows them to assign it to students before a lesson to provide background or context during the lesson.

The TED-Ed website even allows educators to use the “flip a video” tool on any video from YouTube, which includes many educationally-based videos through the popular YouTube for Schools channel. The versatility of the TED-Ed website makes it a perfect choice for use in continuing education courses.

How TED Talks Can Improve Continuing Education

One positive aspect of TED talks is that they are some of the best examples of teaching that exist today. Imagine having Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (who passed away a few years ago) addressing your technology classroom. TED talks can bring the best possible speakers to your classroom at no cost to you.

Educators can not only use the talks to bolster their own lessons, but they can study the ways the talks present information and learn techniques that can make their own presentations more effective and engaging. In this way there is a double benefit to using TED talks in continuing education lessons.

Many times, continuing education can be seen as less important or effective than courses that give college credit, but continuing education serves many purposes that courses for college credit cannot fulfill. Continuing education courses might give specialized information needed for particular careers or job positions, leading to a certification or other recognition when the course or courses are completed.

Continuing education courses can also be for enrichment and can help participants learn to think differently about a topic or develop an enjoyable hobby outside of work. Some jobs even require continuing education in order to keep skills current, and those who don’t want the time commitment or expense of studying for an advanced degree can still meet their job’s ongoing requirements with inexpensive continuing education courses.

CCSU offers many continuing education courses designed to fulfill the objectives described above and even more. For more information about all the courses we offer email Christa Sterling @


The Value of Storytelling as a Learning Tool

People have used storytelling as a learning tool since the beginning of recorded history (at least). Before there were printed textbooks and computers and terrabytes of data about different learning styles, storytellers shared oral history with townspeople and passed down information from generation to generation.

Storytelling is still a valuable tool today, and although it it sometimes forgotten in the midst of all the other teaching methods available, it is still highly effective for many reasons.

Why Storytelling is Effective

The main reason storytelling remains an effective technique in today’s learning environments is that it’s engaging and entertaining. It’s just plain more interesting to listen to a teacher telling a story than it is to hear one giving dry information that you are expected to learn and process.

The reason storytelling is engaging is that it gets people’s emotions involved in the learning process. When emotions are involved, it’s easier to remember what was taught. You may not remember disembodied facts, but you may remember facts that were part of an interesting story because your mind and heart were both engaged.

Storytelling gives meaning to otherwise seemingly irrelevant data. It gives the learner a reason to learn, helps put the data into context and gives learners a real life reason to learn facts and information.

The Components of Storytelling

There are several components of storytelling that also help to explain its educational value. Storytelling is all of the following:

–Concretizing. Telling a story brings information out of the abstract realm and makes it concrete by linking it to concrete and tangible examples. Concrete examples help learners visualize information and how it will play out in the real world, as well as giving them a framework for applying the information to an actual situation in life.

–Assimilating. If learners can’t take new information and integrate it with existing information, the new information is more difficult for them to understand and process, and they are not as likely to retain it. In education theory this process is called scaffolding, which is like building new layers of learning on top of existing information.

–Structurizing. Storytelling helps learners structure information in their minds so that it makes sense to them and they can then apply it to their world. Structurizing is especially important in helping students make connections between new concepts they learn in the classroom and other situations they have experienced previously.

These components are often taught as beneficial for any teacher to incorporate into their lessons, and storytelling makes them even stronger and more compelling.

Incorporating Storytelling Into Teaching Situations

Stories can appear in educational lessons in a variety of ways including narratives, case studies, life histories, myths, anecdotes, legends, scenarios, illustrations or examples, and critical incidents. In almost any lesson, storytelling can be used to keep students’ interest high and enhance retentions of important concepts.

Central Connecticut State University offers many continuing education courses to enhance both professional and personal enrichment for people of all ages. Join our mailing list to get information about all the courses we offer.