Was Rischard’s ISTE 2010 Keynote Really That Bad?

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

Based on back channel comments included in Scott McLeod’s “ISTE 2010 – Some early takes on the opening keynote (and on conference attendees’ behavior)” (6.28.10, in his blog, Dangerously Irrelevant), the opening keynote by Jean-François Rischard on the 27th was a disaster in terms of audience appeal.

Yesterday (29th), I wasn’t able to google a transcript or video of the keynote so I can’t comment on the value of Rischard’s ideas. But I am concerned by the nature of the negative feedback quoted by McLeod. The majority seemed to be aimed at the low-tech and poorly designed PowerPoint slides and the lack of animation in the speaker. Little was said about the actual ideas.

Is this a case of an audience so conditioned to lecture as motivational entertainment that substance is no longer an issue? Or was Rischard’s presentation really that poor in terms of performance and substance?

4 Responses

  1. Jim,

    Maybe a transcript wouldn’t do justice to Rischard’s keynote either, if he relied on heavy written content in his slides. The best way would be to offer both, and the simplest way to do that a slidecast, i.e. slides synch’ed with audio, allowing users to download either or both, but above all to view it at their own pace. Or an edited video including the real slides, not their filmed version. But there could be copyright issues with either.

    Relying on heavy written content in slides for a live keynote , especially if delivered to instructional technologists, is a mistake, though: like serving ham sandwiches at a Jewish or Muslim ceremony.

    It can work in different circumstances: e.g. last Monday, Michael Geist also had text-heavy slides when he spoke – but not in a keynote – at a workshop about ACTA in Geneva.

    In this case, his slides with the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) texts really helped, because these still in progress and complex texts are not written for aural understanding. And what the audience – mainly access-to-knowledge activists – expected from Geist was an analysis of these texts, and his answers to their questions about these texts afterwards. So his apologies for the text-heavy slides were hardly needed: they fitted the purpose.

    However see, by contrast, the very different use of slides by Lawrence Lessig – like Geist, a law professor specialized in copyright issues – in his “It Is About Time: Getting Our Values Around Copyright Right” at Educause 2009 (transcript with links to the audio and video versions in cc4dice.wikispaces.com/Lessig_Educause). This keynote, like Rischard’s, was delivered to educators, and therefore Lessig adapted it to his audience.

  2. Thanks, Claude, for the clarification. I’ve read a few brief summaries of key points from Rischard’s keynote and thought he had something to say. But you’re right re fitting the medium to the audience as well as the task. I’ve been impressed with Lessig’s presentations in the past. I’ll take a look at this one.

    I’ve been to too many conferences where I sat through 50 minutes of PPT-aided talk and would have been happier with a brief written version of the presentation that I could read over a cup of coffee.

    I’m always wary of entertaining speakers who leave me with nothing of worth in my notes. I’ve also come away from presentations with plenty of titillating sound bites that don’t seem to add up to much.

    -Jim S

  3. Re: “I’ve been to too many conferences where I sat through 50 minutes of PPT-aided talk and would have been happier with a brief written version of the presentation that I could read over a cup of coffee. ”

    it reminds me of a course about IT in education in 2000. During the coffee break, an otherwise very sedate vice-headmaster – and person in charge of IT – at the school where I taught blurted out: “And all these people whose travel expenses and fees must have cost a lot finish their talks with: “You will find the text and slides of this presentation at the URL indicated on this last slide”. Why couldn’t they just have e-mailed us the URL instead?”

    Another nice thing with Lessig’s mentioned keynote is that he put the video under a CC BY license. So I didn’t have to ask for permission to do the transcript, or to make the excerpts in youtube.com/watch?v=4YUsqFTUAFg and youtube.com/watch?v=8c8anxJMuRU.

  4. The best part of ISTE has become the networking. THere is so much offered , some pundit said it was like Disneyland. Most of the things I wanted to attend were opposite and half way around the building which was not easily negotiable even with the little airline kind of truck.

    Some assumptions must be made to schedule so I can’t complain. In a year of funding reduction and of a new look at the educational digital divide, there were only two sessions on that topic, but perhaps dissemination was throughout the conference, as the ending keynote mapped Digitlal Equity’s grassroots symposium..

    Tje PPTs .. and online are as Claude said usually available. I am still thinking how necessary the networking is, but some face to face is something I like
    with people I only talk to online for long periods of time. Probably not economically balanced however.

    Bonnie Bracey SUtton

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