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Posts Tagged ‘talk

I am scheduling this entry to coincide with the end of my talk in the Philippines this morning.

My Google Slides deck is available online.

Keynote cover slide.

First, some background.

I was approached to deliver this talk two weeks ago. By the time the contract document was finalised, I had just six days to prepare the slide deck.

This was a very short runway because I normally work with partners who contact me three to six months, or even a year, in advance. I can recall only one other similar late request. In both these cases, I either knew someone well or had worked with the organiser before.

I wrote earlier that I prefer the “stewing” method of preparation. This gives me time and space to make changes based on more current information I find. I agreed to help even though this was an “instant noodle” request only because I had delivered similar talks before.

Despite the short runway, I decided to challenge myself by using my own visual design approach, refreshing old content, and incorporating new information. This meant very quick and intense work, but very little rehearsal.

As with all talks, I struggled during preparation to decide how much content to include. I decided to remove three of four broad topics, but left the content in the slide deck just in case they came up during the Q&A.

Now, a bit of history. This is the fourth year in a row that I have been invited by a group in the Philippines.

  • 2013: Keynote for Philippine eLearning Society
  • 2014: Plenary for Policy Governance and Capacity Building Conference
  • 2015: Keynote for De La Salle University
  • 2016: GenYo Innovation Summit by DIWA, Philippines (partner of Marshall Cavendish, Singapore)

None of these visits were by my design. They were a result of doing good work, making connections, and maintaining a constant online presence.

Finally, a strategy. I share as openly as I can. If there is a contract, I ask that the resources I prepare be shared under a Creative Commons license. I stipulate this in every proposal document I prepare.
 
CC information in my slides.
 
This practice does at least two important things. It keeps my resources searchable and accessible online, and it encourages my partners to rethink their closed practices. It is my small way of promoting open-minded and open-practised changes in educational technology.

In my Presentations page I share the more recent keynotes and talks I have done. I prefer workshops, but these are not as straightforward to conduct and present as a portfolio of work.

I have had to do talks for about ten years as a former university professor and especially now as a consultant. During this time my process has evolved and refined.
 

Stew by jeffk, on Flickr
"Stew" (CC BY 2.0) by jeffk

 
My main process is to stew, especially when I have months-long lead time. Take my recently concluded keynote, Don’t Play Games with Gamification, for SIM Global Education as an example. I met the organisers in late July and I started outlining, collecting thoughts and ideas, and organising in Evernote on 28 Jul 2016. I delivered the keynote on 22 Oct 2016. That is a three-month slow cook.

A quick scroll down my Presentations page might also reveal how the topics are quite different. Professional speakers can repeat or rehash their talks and get very well paid for them. I often come up with fresh content.

I do rehash some content and ideas to suit context and audience, and I also like reusing Google Presentation templates that are visually pleasing.

My modus operandi: Get as much background information as possible through meetings, interviews, and document analysis; visit the venue to get a feel of the room; conduct a pre-event poll; provide a backchannel and other opportunities for the audience to become participants; provide pitstops or time to reflect on takeaways.

Through all this I stir my stew, blend and extract flavours, remove what does not look right, and reduce content as much as possible. The last part of the reduction is taking out spoon-feeding elements and adding elements that require participants to feed themselves. That is something I cannot write down in a recipe.


Video source

This YouTube video is a brilliant critique of talks by self-proclaimed thought leaders. It revealed every drop of snake oil.

The first time I was called a thought leader, I did not even know what that was.

It is still a label I am not comfortable with. If someone sticks it on me, I pull it right off. I recall someone introducing me as a thought leader at an event. When I took the floor, I explained how I did not just deal with thought but also with action.

Reflecting on that helped me remember when I might have first been called a thought leader. It was a session I led that pointed out the fallacies of lectures and talks. How was that for leading with thought?

The thread that runs through my rant yesterday and today is how people talk smart talk but walk dumb.

Several weeks ago, I had an unpleasant dining experience. It gave me food for thought on why technology-led change in school flows slower than molasses.

I revisited an eatery that made some changes. One such change was a subtle one. There were QR code stickers on the tables which linked patrons to an online menu and ordering system.

The process was straightforward: Scan, select, order, pay, wait.

While waiting for our food to be served, I dealt with a technical issue on my son’s phone. It took a while to deal with because the problem was quite serious. I spent almost 20 minutes trying to troubleshoot the problem. I know this because my food order did not arrive and I checked to see why.

Online order.

I walked to the counter staff and asked if there was a problem with my order. They replied that I not ordered because I was “just sitting there as if I was waiting for someone”. Forgive me for doing what customers do, i.e., order and wait.

They also said that they tended to rely on online orders at lunch when things got busy. Apparently I was supposed to know this. Forgive me for not being a mind-reader.

A staff member then reluctantly pulled out a previously hidden iPad and saw the order. Almost as soon as she tapped on her screen did a confirmation appear on my screen. Forgive me for not reminding you to check your ordering system.

I am sorry. I apologise for the portion of the human race that holds the rest back because they cannot overcome their inertia and bias. They do what is good and comfortable for them instead of focusing on others.

I am not sorry. I make it a point to create dissonance. I tell and show people — teachers in particular — why and how to teach better with technology. The process is sometimes painful and difficult, but we do this because we focus on our learners.

Most of us would not put up with shoddy service at an eatery. I cannot put up with schooling that pretends to be education. I see through the lip service and push or pull people along if necessary. If this makes them feel uncomfortable, then so be it. Better to be honest than a hypocrite.

Last week I received email from GeBIZ to complete a survey (PDF file) and then either email the file or fax it.

Gebiz email requesting for survey returns.

The message and instructions begged these questions:

Perhaps someone conspired to rile GeBIZ users up so much that they would provide feedback to demand for more efficient and effective practices.

An online version of the form is both more efficient and effective.

  • Its submission is immediate as is a confirmation of receipt.
  • There is no need for people to compile data from two different sources into one.
  • The data can be automatically collated and analysed without first being inputted manually from the emailed PDFs or faxes, thereby reducing human error.

If this is what happens to a survey, I dare not imagine how other processes might be compromised.

As an educator, I cannot help but wonder what messages actions like these send to the larger system. Are these indicators of push-backs on progress?

I do not think that my concern is unwarranted. While mainstream school teachers are not quite affected Internet restrictions, there are already restrictions on services like Dropbox and mobile services.

If plans are only as good as their implementation, why does “smart talk, dumb walk” persist?

Policies crafted by leaders shape the work environment and culture. If higher-ups associate the Internet, social media, or anything “e” as dangerous or wasting time, they will enact policies that reinforce such hang-ups and nurture a culture based on fear.

Consider this scenario. Imagine I propose that school personnel decide on whether they spend money only on a textbook collection or Chromebooks. The books do not raise an eyebrow, but the response to Chromebooks is “Yes, but…”.

As different as schools are now compared to a generation ago, values and practices today are arguably still entrenched in the past. Ask teachers if they integrate technology and it is still common to hear phrases like “technology to enhance”, “the basics are more important”, “we don’t want the kids to be distracted”, or “the exams are handwritten”.

Technology should not just enhance, it should enable learning. The basics have changed and are more complex and kids need to be empowered. Very little outside of conventional exams and schools is handwritten. Even GeBIZ asked for email replies.

Despite the smart talk and inspiring rhetoric, what actually makes a difference is the walk. It easy to say you want innovation in schools. It is more difficult to create conditions for change.


Video source

This might be the first time I have heard creativity defined as the “conspiracy of craziness”. 

How do we get this creative conspiracy? By having “ridiculous optimism”.

Tune in to this TEDx talk by Kermit to fill in the blanks. 


Video source

Ben Ambridge debunked ten myths in psychology, at least four of which have plagued schooling and education for the longest time. These are:

  • Learning styles
  • Left and right-handedness of brains
  • We use only 10% of our brains
  • The Mozart effect of music

This 15-minute TED talk is worth every minute of dissonance or resonance it might create.


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