The site is designed to create debate and get people thinking about some of the big issues in life. It contains video clips from a very large and broad range of experts giving their opinions on various issues. users then have the opportunity to vote on whether they agree, respond to the questions raised or rate the speaker.
The site also provides people with there opportunity to upload their own questions or statements via video, audio, slideshows or text.
- You can browse the different topics in the ‘Ideas’ section http://www.bigthink.com/ideas/
- You can also see which of the various experts have contributed an opinion and browse them http://www.bigthink.com/experts/ . The range of experts is really very impressive and these include Ted Kennedy, Richard Branson, Jimmy Wales ( founder of Wikipedia) among a great many other.
- There are a really nice choice of questions set up that the experts are giving their opinions on.
- If you had $100 Billion to give away, how would you spend it? http://www.bigthink.com/features/91
- Where do human rights come from?
- Is globalisation killing local culture?
- Can technology make us happy?
- The future of education?
How to use big think: http://www.bigthink.com/features/101
At the time I started to write this there were 2897 ‘ideas’ added to the site so there’s plenty there for students to look at.
If you decide to post your own idea, you can do this in either the form of a statement or a question (statements give users a chance to vote - agree - disagree and add a comment, questions allow users to respond)
How to use this with students:
Here are some suggestion for how you could use this site with your students. Be aware though that this is authentic material and the language level in some of the expert videos is quite high.
- Discuss some of the questions or statement in class then check with the expert on the site
- Get the experts opinion then discuss in class and see whether your students agree
- Get your students to prepare their own opinions and video them for their own class Big Think (could add it to the site or just use Big Think as a model for a classroom activity)
- Get students to watch some of the videos and rate for how interesting they are
- Ask students to find the expert they most agree with
- Ask students to find one that they disagree with and prepare a response (then respond on the site or in class)
- Ask students to summarise an opinion they have viewed
- Ask students to view an opinion and then defend that opinion in a class debate (even if they don’t agree with it)
- As the teacher you could set up some questions that you would like your students to respond to, or you could get your students to set up questions that they would like you or their fellow student to respond to
- Get students to create a big think question to add to the site. (Review later and see if there are any answers to your question)
What I liked about it
There's certainly plenty to like about this site even though it's still in beta at time of writing
- It’s free
- These are real experts many of them well known which should be pretty motivating for students
- The site is well designed and has a pretty clear and easy to use interface. Creating and adding your own question or statement is pretty quick and easy once you’ve created your profile (just three steps)
- You can choose your form of media, so even if your students don’t have any kind of digital recording equipment, they can still contribute to the site using text.
- If you click on the small email envelope icon on the video player you can send a link, get code to embed in a webpage (look at this earlier tutorial to see how this is done), or add it to your Delicious, Facebook or Digg accounts.
- It takes a while to get registered. The process itself is quite quick, but you need to click a confirmation link which is sent to your email address and this took a good hour to arrive, so it’s best to get yourself and / or your students registered well in advance.
- I’m not sure whether there is any editing or censorship before comments and opinions go live. The potential for abuse and misuse is huge. The site is very serious and if user don’t take the site seriously it could easily be swamped by rather uninteresting and poorly thought out opinions. With most Web 2.0 sites the vast majority of what is on them is rubbish, but the remaining 5% is pure gold.
- I also noticed with my own question, that once you add one you can’t get rid of it or edit it (which I would now like to be able to do). Adding this feature might help to ensure higher quality through self censorship.