ISTE 2010 – Some early takes on the opening keynote (and on conference attendees’ behavior)

Here are some excerpts from blog posts about last night’s opening keynote by Jean-François Rischard for the ISTE conference

Joanna Bobiash:

The keynote was disappointing. It did nothing a keynote was suppose to do. The speaker only depressed us with the world ending in 20 years and making fun of government. His slides were only words and hard to read in a huge theater. There was no energy or inspiration that came out of this speech. The audience was too polite (for the most part) not to leave and many had trouble staying awake.

Joe Bires:

The ISTE keynote was certainly a case of failed execution (were there any pictures at all and could anyone read that text?). The purpose of an opening keynote is like a leadoff hitter in baseball; to get on base and start something.  He started nothing, except to dampen expectations.  However ultimately it isn’t his fault it’s ISTE’s, you have to have the right person in the lineup at the right time and he just isn’t a motivating opening speaker.

Kevin Bushweller:

The speech was heavy on the global big picture, with charts, diagrams, and lists on a large screen on the stage, but there were not a lot of specifics about how education, and more specifically, educational technology would help solve those problems.

Erik Hilton:

Speaking of old methods, let’s talk about the keynote with Jean François Rischard. I am sure that somewhere in all of those  Power Point slides was a message.  However, I missed it because it was simply not at all engaging.  I was sitting at the Blogger area and I enjoyed the heckling from them much more than I enjoyed the presentation.  It was a strange thing to be sitting in a group of innovators and people who are working in the system, looking for ways to bring it into the 21st century, while the keynote speaker was droning on with an incomprehensible Power Point presentation.  It was an interesting irony, to have the keynote speaker at a conference that seems to showcase innovation and new technology tuned out because it was, well I’ll just say it, a boring presentation.

And here are some Twitter responses…

Ross Rogers:


Michael Richards:


Finally, David Wees, Ryan Berardi, and Peter McAsh asked if perhaps the audience’s reactions were overdone, too harsh, or should have been directed more privately to ISTE rather than blogged and Tweeted publicly…

Ryan Berardi:


Peter McAsh:


David Wees:

This year’s keynote was awful.  The way the presenter talked, the disconnect between what he talked about and what most of us are here for, and the use of his PowerPoint slides was just horrendous.  Here’s a mindmap, created by @dwarlick (click on it to open the full image in a new window). . . . I’d like to say that the response from the audience, while probably accurately describing his presentation, was a bit harsh.  Maybe people on Twitter on the #ISTE10 channel were expressing concern about their own presentations tomorrow.  My recommendation to them, don’t follow #ISTE10 during or shortly after your presentation if you have any self-esteem at all and want to keep it.  I’d love to have seen a few more supportive folks, but the typical crowd mentality of “okay he’s down now let’s jump on him” cropped up yet again and pretty much everyone was negative.  Let’s try and avoid this kind of negativity for each other’s presentations in the next few days, shall we?

Any other thoughts regarding the opening keynote speaker? Are David and Ryan right? Are we creating an environment at ISTE that’s too tough on presenters?

12 Responses to “ISTE 2010 – Some early takes on the opening keynote (and on conference attendees’ behavior)”

  1. I think there’s definitely some truth there: the comments in the backchannel were blunt and harsh, and I agree with David that we need to be cautious with our comments on presentations over the next three days. (And being a presenter, I will definitely take the advice not to follow the hashtag right after I present.)

    However, we’re talking about the opening keynote for a major international conference here. This is an enormous privilege. Expectations are rightly high, and there is a very large responsibility on the part of the speaker to know the audience and be on top of his or her game. There’s also a responsibility, as was mentioned, on the part of ISTE to ensure that they’re putting quality in front of us.

    My take on it is that people have invested a great deal to be here, and they want a good return on that investment. They didn’t get it last night, and the backchannel was just an expression of that frustration.

  2. But we’ve seen at other conferences that good keynotes produce positive, engaging, live backchannel discussion. In some cases it is even included in the presentation, referred to and discussed by the keynote presenter. To expect an audience to sit through a text filled PowerPoint “show” doesn’t work for many anymore.

  3. Spirited dicussion in the Blogger’s Cafe with ISTE representative this morning about the keynote. They are listening which is good. I’ve come to expect some great prsentations when I come to ISTE, too bad this was not one of them.

    I think that the Twitter comments pretty much sum it up nicely.

  4. I wonder what was worse – The poor PowerPoint method of presentation or the early evacuation of roughly 15-20% of the attendees?

    I think the actual data and facts that this man had were very informative, and I realize that his final goal was to encourage our students to think globally and creatively to help solve these problems. He kinda got there… but not really.

    Ironic that the entire time I watched the presentation I thought about Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch re-making this in a “Did You Know” format. It was the incorrect format for a room full of thousands of Ed Tech people, and all of the ISTE keynoter gaffes from this past year (search for the crowd-sourcing debacle) have started to taint the whole idea of Keynotes at this conference.

  5. I saw the backchannel postings on twitter and commented on them myself. I couldn’t believe the sheer lack of professionalism. I’ll grant that perhaps the presenter’s method missed the mark – it happens. However, that’s the point where adults step up and act like the professional people we teachers always claim we should be treated as, and listen patiently to gather whatever relevant and pertinent information offered by the presenter.

    There was a lot of arrogance in that room yesterday and a lot of people who could have done it better or knew someone who could have done a better job. If that was the case, they would have been on stage and not the presenter. The college class in American Lit where I learned the bulk of what I know related to critical literary interpretation was taught by a man with all the pizzaz and dazzling teaching skills as a piece of plain white bread. I learned more from that man than I did from half my teachers combined.

    When people are open to getting knowledge it doesn’t matter where it comes from and in what format. Learners are eager to learn from any source, even the boring ones who didn’t graduate from the Steve Jobs school of presenting.

  6. True or not, are we modeling good digital citizenship?

    If we do define this as poor digital citizenship, how can we as educators expect our students to be good Digital Citizens when we as educational leaders consider it optional?

  7. Hi, my name is Maeghan Whitmire and I am commenting on this for my EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I think these comments show how strongly everyone felt about the keynote. I have to admit if I were there and not getting anything out of it, I probably would have walked away myself. If the objective was to learn something, why didn’t anyone? Maybe people should think that through the next time they pick someone to teach that is not interesting and hard to follow. I will be following and commenting on your blog for 3 weeks. I will put a summary of what I have said and what I think of your blog at the end of that time. If you would like to see my class blog and the summaries on your blog I will post later please Click Here

  8. From top to bottom the Keynote Speech was a terrible display of propaganda pushing communist dogma of one world control, disdain for the electoral process, and personal freedom. The sheer audacity of the man to suggest the abandonment of nation-states and the total control of the GDP of all the nations of the world reflect at best a completely misunderstanding of the role of government and at worst a totalitarian Stalin-like control of the economic freedom of all individuals, businesses, and for democracy itself. I only wished we booed him off the stage.

    • I agree with Edmund – a bunch of propaganda!
      But get ready for more world control talk from’s Head of School Jeff Piontek.

  9. @ McLeod
    I wasn’t there to hear the speech but in reading the bio perhaps inviting an economist to a room full of educators wasn’t a great idea from the beginning.

  10. Inside every cynical person, there is a depressed idealist

  11. I’m glad someone is actually critiquing the content in these comments instead of focusing on superficialities such as the lack of effective presentation design. Yeah, design matters, but I think it’s important to look beyond this and focus on the message. I don’t necessarily agree with the content criticism; I’m not prepared at the moment to launch a detailed response about why I enjoyed the keynote. However, what I find a little alarming is that people are expecting to be entertained during a keynote. I guess I’m in the minority in preferring a thought provoking presentation rather than a pep rally.

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