Category Archives: fote09

The half-life of a keynote

keynote by James Clay

I have been to many different conferences and events, some years I would attend a range of events and would get a feeling of déjà vu listening to some keynotes. I had heard what was been said before, sometimes it was virtually identical, other times it was a variation, but essentially the same.

During my professional life I have delivered many keynotes at conferences and events, most recently at LILAC 16 in Dublin. These keynotes have been on many different subjects, mobile learning, the future of learning and more recently digital capabilities.

I was often asked to deliver keynotes as a result of someone watching a keynote I had delivered and asking for something similar for their event or conference. This was fine with me as I could re-use the content, tailored (slightly) obviously for the audience, but in most respects the same presentation I had delivered previously. The audiences were usually very different and so it didn’t matter to me if the content was virtually identical, as the new audience wouldn’t have seen it before.

With watching other people’s presentations I realised that I wasn’t their typical audience, I was attending lots of conferences and events, probably more than most.

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Thinking about this recently having delivered a fair few sessions on digital capability about how long you could keep delivering the same keynote before it either ran out of steam (as in topicality) or the audience came around again and had seen it before. Was there a keynote that you could use and then leave in the cupboard for a while and then bring it out again and hopefully it will have freshened up enough to be fresh for even the same audience.

I know of one individual who delivered forty eight virtually identical keynotes over a four year period across different events, I never even came close to that!

It was nice now and again to deliver something completely fresh and different. The ULCC FOTE events were often the kind of event where I would create a new keynote. Though I would often use those presentation again at another event. Looking over my slideshares I realise that there are lots of similar presentations, but there is also variety too.

One of the reasons why I always created a new presentation for FOTE was that the audience usually was made up of the same people. They wouldn’t want to see the same keynote I had delivered the previous year.

James Clay talking at ALT-C

Reflecting on all of this, I did wonder if I should feel guilty or bad about doing basically the same keynote more than once? One way of looking at this, is am I just being lazy? Or am I more like the Dad’s Army repeats on BBC2, content been repeated for a new audience, who will get something from it as much as the original audience did.

I delivered a session at FOTE 2009 in October called The Future of Learning. In December of the same year I delivered a similar keynote at ASCILITE 2009 also called the Future of Learning. The following May at EdTech 2010 in Athlone in Ireland I did a keynote called Cultural Shifts, but was a version of the Future of Learning keynote. The keynotes were all very similar, but to be honest I believe that I was asked to keynote because of what people had seen before.

This is the version I delivered at the MIMAS Mobile Learning event.

There is something about repeating yourself, and there are some people who will still come and listen again, more so, if they enjoyed it the first time. I know that if someone like Dave White is on the conference programme I will go and listen to his session, not saying he repeats himself, but I know he has delivered many keynotes on Visitors and Residents.

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Sometimes I feel that I have a back catalogue of keynotes and that though I may want to deliver the new album, people would rather hear the classic hits from the past!

So if you deliver at conferences, have you delivered the same presentation at different events and why did you do it?

Visitors and Residents

When I was at FOTE 09 a few weeks ago I stayed overnight and went out for a meal at a terrible Italian restaurant; one of the problems I have visiting different parts of London is that I am merely a visitor and unlike the local residents do not know the best places to eat. I remember visiting London a few years ago and my sister-in-law who lived in London at the time (a resident) took me to a wonderful local pub with fantastic food. The more I visit London the more confident I get with getting about (on foot and on the tube) and knowing which places to avoid and when and which places to seek out and try. First time visitors to London know it differently to those that visit more often and likewise people who live in London will know some places better than others. Visitors and residents know London in different ways and the same can be said for those who use digital and online tools and services. I really don’t want to use the term digital world as I don’t think it is a useful term.

Last year we discussed the concept coined by Dave White of Visitors and Residents and how this relates to how people interact and use the online and digital tools and services out there.

Dave has made a video of the presentation he gave at ALT-C 2009 and it makes for interesting viewing.

You can read more on his blog.

Most people should by now realise that the age demarcation of the digital native and digital immigrant is a flawed concept and should not be relied upon. Projects and research have again shown that young learners are not digital natives and often have issues with digital and online technologies.

From the MoLeNET programme for example.

The experiences of several MoLeNET projects suggests that not all young people are the “digital natives”…

“We came to this project with an unspoken belief that young learners would innately understand how these devices worked, we quickly came to understand that, while they can use them well on a superficial level, more demanding tasks stretched their knowledge of the technology”.

The key lessons to remember is that you can’t assume that younger learners will be confident in how to use new technologies, likewise also don’t assume that older learners will not know how to use technologies.

If you are an online resident it can sometimes be difficult to remember that a lot of people are merely visitors and that they may not fully undertstand the local customs, practices or best places to go.

The Future of Learning


This is my presentation from FOTE 2009.