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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

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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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."