The purpose of this post is to share with you this interesting playlist from TED Ed called TED History vs. that you can use with your students in class. The videos are especially ideal for history classes but they can also be incorporated into any other subject area.  Each of the featured TED Ed history videos covers a popular (often controversial) historical figure such as Genghis Khan, Cleopatra, Vladimir Lenin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Sigmund Freud, Christopher Columbus, Richard Nixon, Augustus, and more. 

TED Ed history videos are accompanied by pre-made lessons to integrate in your teaching. The standard structure of TED Ed lessons, as you probably know, is composed of the Watch section where students watch the video lesson, Think (contains multiple choice questions to check students comprehension), Dig Deeper (features extra resources and materials to help students learn more about the topic covered in the video lesson), and the Discuss section that offers guided discussion for students. Of course, you can always customize the content of the TED Ed lesson and even create a new one to share with your students. 

1. History vs. Genghis Khan – Alex Gendler

“He was one of the most fearsome warlords who ever lived, waging an unstoppable conquest across the Eurasian continent. But was Genghis Khan a vicious barbarian or a unifier who paved the way for the modern world? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs Genghis Khan.”

Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

2. History vs. Cleopatra – Alex Gendler

“She was the most notorious woman in ancient history, a queen who enraptured not one but two of Rome’s greatest generals. But was she just a skilled seductress – or a great ruler in her own right? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Cleopatra.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

3. History vs. Vladimir Lenin – Alex Gendler

“Vladimir Lenin overthrew Russian Czar Nicholas II and founded the Soviet Union, forever changing the course of Russian politics. But was he a hero who toppled an oppressive tyranny or a villain who replaced it with another? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial, exploring both sides of a nearly century-long debate.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

4. History vs. Napoleon Bonaparte – Alex Gendler

“After the French Revolution erupted in 1789, Europe was thrown into chaos. Neighboring countries’ monarchs feared they would share the fate of Louis XVI and attacked the new Republic, while at home, extremism and mistrust between factions led to bloodshed. In the midst of all this conflict, Napoleon emerged. But did he save the revolution, or destroy it? Alex Gendler puts Napoleon on trial.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

5. History vs. Sigmund Freud – Todd Dufresne

“Working in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, he began his career as a neurologist before pioneering the discipline of psychoanalysis, and his influence towers above that of all other psychologists in the public eye. But was Sigmund Freud right about human nature? And were his methods scientific? Todd Dufresne puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Sigmund Freud”.
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

6. History vs. Che Guevara – Alex Gendler

“His face is recognized all over the world – the young medical student who became a revolutionary icon. But was Che Guevara a heroic champion of the poor, or a ruthless warlord who left a legacy of repression? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Che Guevara.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

7. History vs. Christopher Columbus – Alex Gendler

“Many people in the United States and Latin America have grown up celebrating the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage. But was he an intrepid explorer who brought two worlds together or a ruthless exploiter who brought colonialism and slavery? And did he even discover America at all? Alex Gendler puts Columbus on the stand in History vs. Christopher Columbus. “
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

8. History vs. Richard Nixon – Alex Gendler

“The president of the United States of America is often said to be one of the most powerful positions in the world. But of all the US presidents accused of abusing that power, only one has left office as a result. Does Richard Nixon deserve to be remembered for more than the scandal that ended his presidency? Alex Gendler puts this disgraced president’s legacy on trial.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

9. History vs. Andrew Jackson – James Fester

“Andrew Jackson was both beloved and loathed during his presidency. In this imaginary courtroom, you get to be the jury, considering and weighing Jackson’s part in the spoils system, economic depression, and the Indian Removal Act, as well as his patriotism and the pressures of the presidency. James Fester explores how time shapes our relationship to controversial historical figures.”
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10. History vs. Augustus – Peta Greenfield & Alex Gendler

“His reign marked the beginning of one of history’s greatest empires … and the end of one of its first republics. Was Rome’s first emperor a visionary leader who guaranteed his civilization’s place in history, or a tyrant who destroyed its core values? Peta Greenfield and Alex Gendler put this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Augustus.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

11. History vs. Henry VIII – Mark Robinson and Alex Gendler

“He was a powerful king whose break with the church of Rome would forever change the course of English history. But was he a charismatic reformer who freed his subjects from a corrupt establishment or a bullying tyrant who used Parliament for his own personal gain? Mark Robinson and Alex Gendler put this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Henry VIII. “
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson

12. History vs. Tamerlane the Conqueror – Stephanie Honchell Smith

“He was born in the 1330s in the Chaghatayid Khanate, formerly the Mongol Empire. On the steppe, he rose from a lowly sheep thief to become one of history’s greatest conquerors, uniting nearly all of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran under his rule. But was he a great state builder or a bloodthirsty tyrant? Stephanie Honchell Smith puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Tamerlane.”
Watch the video           Access full TED Ed lesson