How I Use It
With just about every social studies unit, I include a search through TED to find potential materials. Once I find something that looks useful, I watch on my own and find suitable excerpts. I often prepare discussion questions and vocabulary lists to help students understand independently.
I would rarely tell students to watch a TED video without support materials or discussion (at least in Grades 6-10). So much would be lost that it would devalue the expertise of the speaker, and/or it would leave students feeling frustrated.
I can't think of a social studies unit that I have taught that did not have a connection to something from TED Ed. The videos are often very challenging, but they are also thought-provoking. Using them in class takes some advance preparation (especially if you are using them with middle and early high school students) to select the right video, perhaps select excerpts, and to prepare discussion items/questions. That said, it can be really worth it as you are essentially bringing engaging speakers who happen to be esteemed experts in their fields.
This is not a place to grab a video to show (and kill class time) on a slow day. This is a site to use with an eye towards extension and deeper understanding.