Have you ever wondered whether it’s worth your time to attend a keynote by a celebrity speaker? While you might be entertained, will you leave feeling informed and inspired? Or cheated? Educational ICT consultant Terry Friedman asks the following questions when deciding which talks are worthwhile and which to attend in the future:
■ Does the speaker have a substantive message, identify the problem, and propose a solution? Or has he or she hit the replay button to announce: “There’s a problem in education and somebody needs to do something about it”?
■ Does this expert propose practical, immediate steps to begin addressing the problem they identify? Or are you left with the vague “We need to have a debate about this”?
■ Does this person have experience implementing ideas in the real world, where even a great idea faces challenges posed by culture, legal matters, pupil and parental expectations, budget constraints, and lack of support by leaders and colleagues?
■ Does research appear to back up the speaker’s claims? And, if so, is it genuine research?
■ What does your gut say? Trust your professional judgment and do your own research—Google the speaker and see what others have said about this person’s expertise and presentations.
If Friedman thinks the answer to any of these questions is likely to be “No,” he has plenty of better things to do with his time and money.