Indiana University School of Nursing, Center for Professional Development and Lifelong Learning

Interesting, fun, short, and thought-provoking posts you’ll actually want to read and share

Falling Down the TED Talk Hole

Have you ever heard of falling down the YouTube hole? Maybe you’ve had the experience of going to YouTube to quickly look for a particular video. Then, before you know it, you’ve spent 45 minutes or maybe 2 hours watching video after video and you find yourself asking,

“How did this happen?”  and  “Where did the time go?”

Well, guess what.




You fell down the YouTube hole!!!!

Falling down the YouTube hole is a reference to the Disney classic, Alice in Wonderland’s fall down a rabbit hole. Alice’s curiosity about a talking white rabbit who disappears into a rabbit hole entices her to follow the rabbit and before she knows it, she finds herself tumbling (actually it was more like a gentle float/fall) down the rabbit hole. Her words just as she’s about to start her unknowing descent are,

“Curiosity often leads to trouble.”

While those words may be true in some cases, more often than not and especially for the purposes of this post, curiosity can lead to inspiring, thought-provoking, research-based, and entertaining discovery.

Enter TED Talks!

Not sure what a TED Talk is? Check out the TED website.

There have been a number of times that we’ve searched for a TED Talk and, seemingly unbeknownst to us, next thing we know, we’ve spent an hour watching TED Talk after TED Talk.

We’ve fallen down the…

TED Talk Hole Tunnel

While we may have fallen down the TED Talk hole, we’re glad we did. Not only did we enjoy watching and learning, we realized there was a huge potential to enhance our teaching by including TED Talks as a learning and discussion tool with our students and colleagues.

At a max viewing time of 18 minutes each, TED Talk topics can be applied to just about any profession. Especially useful is using TED Talks as a vehicle for interprofessional education and collaboration. A simple search on the TED website with your desired keywords can provide a multitude of good options for viewing. Keep in mind as you’re looking for talks that you might want to think about keywords or topics that are not exactly what you’re teaching about, but related in some way.

Plus, there is  TEDMED, the “health and medicine edition” of TED.  TEDMED talks will not come up on the main TED website when you search so be sure to visit as well for ideas.

Check out this 7 1/2 minute TED talk given by Rita Pierson. The experience she talks about is from an elementary school teacher perspective but her TED Talk applies to educators at all levels.

Are you in an academic setting? If so, here are some ideas and ways you can include TED Talks as a part of your class:

  1. Break up your face-to-face class session. Session speakers are typically engaging, topics are often somewhat unusual, and at times can be controversial, all of which can lead to great in-class discussion or debate.
  2. Assign TED Talks to be viewed outside of class to “flip the classroom” and use class time to discuss and apply ideas.
  3. Teaching an online course? Embed or link to TED talks within the online course environment. Divide the class into two groups and have them provide an argument of support both for or against the ideas presented in the TED talk.

What about TED Talks for professional development?

  1. Information and resources about leadership, conflict resolution, big picture thinking, and many other topics not necessarily specific to healthcare or health-related issues are available.
  2. Use TED Talks as part of your orientation or onboarding or with more experienced nurses who are looking for that next step in their career path.
  3. Initiate a yearlong series of TED Talks  used for brown bag lunches sessions, staff or faculty meetings, or student professional development to get them ready to launch into their new role after graduation!

Many cities have their own regional TEDx events- some of your colleagues may have even spoken at them. At the IUSON, we love this talk from our own faculty member, Ukamaka Oruche, about her work in Nigeria, filmed at TEDx Indy in 2014.

Similarly, TED Talks are a great place to find speakers or resources for events or content you are developing. We found Dr. Lorelei Lingard via her TEDx talk on Collective Competence and have hosted her twice now for different events in Indianapolis!

Below are some of our favorite TED Talks.

Brene Brown on vulnerability.

Jill Bolte Taylor on her experience with stroke.

Shawn Achor on happiness.

Joe Madiath on how toilets can make for a better life.


Searchable on are the TED Talk playlists. One list we like is the How to be a great leader playlist.


While we haven’t used TED ED yet we wanted to be sure to include it in this post because you may want to check it out and investigate using it at your organization. At you can use an already created lesson or create your own online lesson around a particular talk, which could make for a great out of classroom activity or online/hybrid course activity. there are options to create multiple chose questions, discussion boards, and more.

Check out the lesson below from Amy Hermon on using art to improve analytical skills – they directly apply to healthcare in the lesson.

How art can help you analyze by Amy E. Hermon on TED Ed Lessons Worth Sharing

Amy Cuddy’s talk on body language is one of our all-time favorites and has an already made lesson that anyone can use!


If you’re a podcast listener, you can listen via the TEDTalks (audio) podcast, and also the TED Radio Hour produced by NPR. What’s a podcast you say? Maybe we’ll talk about those more in-depth in a future blog post, but in the meantime check out the podcast app on your smartphone or do some quick online searches – it’s like on-demand radio shows on any and every topic you can think of!

Your Turn!

We’d love to hear from you – do you use TED Talks at your organization and if so, how? What are your favorite TED Talks?

Don’t forget about your own personal professional development and interests. TED Talks can be really fun to listen to!

Sick of getting annoying spam and phishing emails? Take a look at what this guy did to turn spam into ham-ing it up. Just for fun. 🙂 Oh, and welcome to your first, or maybe latest, TED Talk hole. 😉

As one last resource, the folks over at Innovation Excellence have a great post titled, 50 TED Talks Every Educator Should Check Out (2014 edition).


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