Popcorn!Many instructors find that showing movies or even short clips from documentaries or news programs can help keep students engaged and excited about their course content. YouTube is a great resource for short clips on a variety of topics, but can sometimes be hit-or-miss based on the volume of content on the site and relatively little quality control on specific topics.

I’ve found FRONTLINE, the public television program, to be a reliable source for great clips to show in class, plus, they now have an extensive collection of programs (both full and excerpted) available to view online. Frontline covers a variety of issues and often have additional commentary from producers and ‘fact sheets’ or ‘FAQs’ that you could print off and use as handouts during class.

The FRONTLINE episodes are also categorized so that you can easily find appropriate clips for whatever issue you are discussing in class. Some of my recent favorites:

  • When Kids Get Life — about children in the U.S. receiving life sentences for murder, and the juvenile justice system in America more generally
  • Is WalMart Good for America? — about corporatization, labor practices, and business culture
  • A Class Divided – about discrimination and racism in the U.S. — Frontline writes, “This is one of the most requested programs in FRONTLINE’s history. It is about an Iowa schoolteacher who, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, gave her third-grade students a first-hand experience in the meaning of discrimination. This is the story of what she taught the children, and the impact that lesson had on their lives.”

Go to FRONTLINE’s website.

What videos have you found to be especially useful in your sociology courses?