Teachers can use students’ love of television to enhance the classroom experience and bring in levels of expertise that would not be available otherwise. Instead of viewing television as the enemy, teachers should find ways to use students’ comfort level with television to challenge them on an intellectual level.

Several teachers said they use CNN’s Newsroom show, which is 30 minutes per day, to enhance their discussion of current events. They will pick out short segments (two to three minutes) that the show does on a particular subject and use them as the introduction to that subject, then supplement the segments with lecture, web and newspaper or magazine research, and in-class discussion.

Giving students assignments to research a subject using three types of media will teach them about the various strengths and weaknesses of each, said one educator. More ambitious educators have found ways of enabling students to create their own weekly television shows that cover topics related to their school; equipment donations can cut the six-figure cost of creating a studio significantly.

Television has several advantages over textbooks, if used properly, the educators add:

1. For some subjects, the visual capabilities of video or film add a special dimension to a project—e.g., space exploration.

2. By their very nature, news programs are current, unlike aging textbooks.

3. News programs often tell a story, which is a compelling way to introduce issues to students.

For information about television shows that may be appropriate for classroom use, visit these web sites: http://www.turnerlearning.com; http://www.pbs.org/teachersource; http://www.discoverychannel.com; or http://www.ciconline.org.