Tag Archives: ascilite09

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.

fote10001

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.

altc201403

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?

Reducing the impact

So how big is your carbon footprint?

Last December I flew out to New Zealand to deliver the final keynote at ASCILITE 2009.

Though entirely possible to have delivered the keynote remotely, part of the reason for going was to attend the conference itself. I wanted to see and hear what was happening in that part of the world in the area of e-learning. I did consider the environmental impact of my journey as I am sure anyone who flies long haul for these kinds of events.

Any conference is going to have an impact on the environment. With hundreds of people travelling hundreds (if not thousands) of miles this will contribute to the carbon footprint of the event. Likewise once at the event there are all the “extra” bits of paper, bags and paraphernalia that you receive at a conference. Paper from the organisers, exhibitors and session presenters. Don’t get me wrong, some of this will be really useful, but a fair amount will end up (hopefully) in the recycling bin and some in landfill.

Yes I know I can hear you saying but I like reading from paper. That’s true, but it doesn’t have to be a one or the other scenario. You can print some of the papers, but not all of them. You can print the stuff you want to read “on paper” and leave the other stuff on the screen. Print what you need, rather than let others print everything! At this point I should say that many physical conferences are moving over to electronic materials, though there is still a fair bit of paraphernalia about at the conference I recently attended.

Now it has to be said that an online conference can help reduce the environmental impact of an event. If you are like me you probably have a laptop with you at a conference, so if you are staying at home or in the office and using the laptop at the online conference this will have a negligible impact on the carbon footprint as you would be using the laptop at both kinds of events.

We should though consider the impact of staying at home and attending the conference, you will be using lighting, heating (it will be November) and making coffee. If you are at a physical conference this energy wouldn’t be used. You might want to consider going into the office to access the conference (travel impact again, cycle to work perhaps) to lessen your personal contribution to the carbon footprint. If like me though there are already people at home, attending from home may be a better option. Also has the advantage you are less likely to be disturbed.

An online conference is not going to have a zero carbon footprint, but I would argue that the footprint will be a lot smaller than a traditional physical conference.

Now it’s not to say every conference should be online, there is something about the social and networking aspects of a physical event, but attending an online conference can not only be a stimulating and interesting experience, it can also have less impact on the environment. You will still be able to network and the social side of the online conference though not the same as a physical conference, it is there and is just different. It is still possible to make new contacts at an online conference, I know, because I have.

See the savings both in cost and in carbon footprint by having an online conference rather than a physical conference in this report by the Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University: Online professional development conferences: An effective, economical and eco-friendly option.

So if it is proving difficult to justify all the conferences you want to attend from an environmental standpoint, one you shouldn’t miss is the JISC Innovating e-Learning 2010 Online Conference.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #033: The Ascilite 2009 Keynote

James Clay’s Keynote at Ascilite 2009.

This is the thirty third e-Learning Stuff Podcast, The Ascilite 2009 Keynote.

A recording of James Clay’s Keynote at Ascilite 2009 in Auckland, in New Zealand. This took place in December 2009.

Audio MP3

Download the podcast in mp3 format: The Ascilite 2009 Keynote

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Due to the nature of the recording, the audio quality of this podcast is lower than would normally be expected.

Tweetnoting at Ascilite 2009

So it was day three of Ascilite 2009 and this was a big day for me as I was delivering the final Keynote.

I checked that everything worked. Though I have given keynotes before, this was the first time I was going to tweet as I delivered my keynote. Using KeynoteTweet, an Applescript which in conjunction with Keynote will automatically send tweets as slides appear.

In the auditorium there were two projectors, one would have my slides upon them, whilst the other would have Twitterfall showing all the #ascilite09 tweets.

My slides were “new” but like other presentations I have delivered have either usually a single word or an image on them.

Twitterfall worked well, with a fair few people in the UK and elsewhere following the tweets from my keynote. Of course it can be “dangerous” having a live Twitter feed in your presentation, especially when it is behind you. However looking over the stream of Tweets it would appear everything went fine.

Gráinne Conole was very kind to live blog my keynote on Cloudworks and you can see the results here.

I enjoyed delivering the keynote and all the stuff worked from a technical perspective, bar one. So what didn’t work? I was hoping to use the Remote App on the iPhone, however I have found that this is unreliable when a lot of people are using the wireless network. In future I think I may create my own wireless network specifically for the presentation (I have a spare Airport Express I can use).

When I have better (upload) bandwidth I will upload the presentation to Slideshare and a recording of the keynote itself.

So what did others think? Well I have had some very positive feedback from people at the conference.

It's about the conversation…

So it was day three of Ascilite 2009 and this was a big day for me as I was delivering the final Keynote.

As I was still doing some final preparation I missed out on the first morning session. After that I attended the Thinking about a new LMS: Comparing different institutional models and approaches symposium

Selecting a new Learning Management System (LMS) is a strategic decision. The LMS is a key part of your institutional culture and shapes not only the student experience but also the future direction of your institution. This symposium describes the experience from the initial selection phase to early implementation of Moodle in four case studies: University of Waikato, University of Canberra, University of Canterbury and Massey University. The central question explored is: how do you successfully implement a new LMS within a large institution? In answering this question, the symposium compares and contrasts different models and approaches to successfully implementing such an important educational innovation and large-scale institutional change. The symposium shares lessons learnt from each university and offers participants an excellent opportunity to hear first hand about the benefits and challenges of adopting an open source LMS in the university sector.

This was an interesting presentation with some useful experiences that were passed on.The experiences by the four institutions had valuable lessons to pass onto any other institution contemplating changing their LMS or VLE.

However I do feel that it shouldn’t have been labelled as a symposium. Now though a symposium originally referred to a Greek drinking party, it is now used to describe an openly discursive format, rather than a lecture and question–answer format.

The LMS symposium was a series of four presentations with a few questions at the end. That is not a symposium, that is a series of four presentations with a few questions at the end…

It would appear that I am not alone in thinking that the symposium format needs to be rethought for academic conferences.

Sebastian Fiedler on his symposium said in his blog:

Altogether, our slightly eclectic individual statements/presentations apparently worked as a conversation opener. There was clearly interest in the over-arching theme and present ASCILITErs were eager to chime in an voice their opinions. However, when things just started to get somewhat interesting we already had to wrap up the session and disperse the convention. I found this extremely unfortunate.

He goes onto suggest:

I can easily imagine to simply start with a conversation among a group of informed peers on stage… that gradually draws in more and more participants. It would provide a hyperlink-cloud around the individual contributors to get an idea of where they are coming from, and possible end with recommendations on further readings… plus some form of mediated conversation and exchange beyond the event. No presentations, no lecture halls, no 60 min time-slots.

When I was planning the original VLE is Dead symposium at ALT-C 2009 one of the key issues for me was to ensure that the delegates attending the debate had ample time and opportunity for discussion.

So how did we do this?

Well the first thing we did was get the discussion going well before the conference. The speakers were posting to their blogs with their views. One result of this was that lots of people responded to those blog posts, which continued the debate.

At the symposium itself, we restricted the amount of time to each presenter to just five minutes; Josie in the chair was under strict instructions to stop us after five minutes. I also wanted the presenters not to use PowerPoint, though in the end some presenters did use them.

As a result we had a wonderful debate looking at a range of issues, allowing delegates an opportunity to ask questions, voice their opinions and join in.

Well our symposium worked very well, with a room for 80, we had 150 delegates in the room, and about 200 online. I recorded the debate and that video has now been seen (at the time of writing) by over 1500 people!

So what can we learn from this, especially those that are thinking of putting in symposium submissions and conference organisers.

Lesson 1: Less is more

If you can’t get your viewpoint across in five minutes then you just need to try harder. Likewise I wouldn’t have more than four presenters for an hour debate and no more than six for a ninety minute session. Don’t try and cover “everything” try to keep to a single or simple viewpoint.

Lesson 2: Early start

Start the debate early well before the conference. Get the presenters to blog their viewpoints. Encourage others to debate the issue using their blogs. Use Twitter to get the debate going.

Lesson 3: Amplify

If you can stream your symposium over the internet, use a service such as Ustream. Use Twitter to cover the debate and if possible have a Twitterfall type service showing during the debate.

So ask yourself the next time you consider running a symposium, are you interested in the debate or are you only interested in presenting your point of view.