7 Questions to Ask About Big Name Speakers at Education Technology Conferences

7 Questions to Ask About Big Name Speakers at Education Technology Conferences

I enjoy a good keynote, especially if it “delivers”. To my mind, a keynote should be informative, inspirational and entertaining. All too often, however, keynotes by so-called “visionary” speakers leave me feeling both uninspired and uninformed. I am left with having been entertained, which is all very well, but unless it’s an after-dinner speech I’m also left feeling cheated. So these days, where there is a choice between attending a celebrity speaker’s talk or that of an “ordinary” teacher who is doing great stuff in his or her classroom, I will almost always choose the latter. In fact, I have developed a kind of rubric that I follow when deciding whether or not to attend a celebrity presentation. It consists of a number of questions, which I’ve written up below. Feel free to use them if you think they are useful. Some of these questions cannot be answered until you have attended a talk given by the person in question. But you will know for next time.

A spot-on summary of most celebrity speakers' ideas, in my experience! Photo by Joe Hall https://www.flickr.com/photos/joebeone/

Do they have anything substantive to say? I’ve attended too many talks where a summary of the lecture would accurately be given as:

“There’s a problem in education and somebody needs to do something about it.”

What I’d like to know is: what is the problem, and what do you think ought to be done about it? After all, you’re being paid to talk to us as the expert.

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cross-posted at www.ictineducation.org

Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Digital Education."