Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 9 seconds

Choose-ur-own-adventure Keynote? #oer17

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 9 seconds

So I have this crazy idea that I may or may not implement and it’s still developing in my mind. I was gonna ask some people privately what they thought… But I thought why not just blog it?

So you can tell from the title what it is, and the reason it is like that is

  1. I know my audience will be different people with different interests. If this were a class or workshop I was leading I would want to create space for people of different interests to learn different things. Why not in a keynote? 
  2. I have so many things I might want to talk about (beyond the broad theme of critical & intentionality). I could poll people like crazy now, but on THE DAY of the keynote something more interesting might be happening… I bet you anything my keynote pre and post Trump wouldn’t have been the same thing 
  3. Audiences already have agency. They choose to attend or not. To react or not. To tweet appreciatively or snarkily. To ask questions or not. To approach speakers or not afterwards. But what if audiences had agency over WHAT the keynote was about. And what if they didn’t need to reach consensus about it?
  4. I want this to be something virtual and asynchronous folks can participate in, not just onsite folks
  5. I want to listen during my keynote and not just talk. It may seem weird, but I already talk a lot. And I will talk…but I wanna help create opportunities for others to talk, too. During and beyond the keynote. I will explain now.

So here’s the sketch of the idea, and feedback is absolutely welcome

  1. Part of the keynote is interactive presentation. A small part. Where I lead but interact with folks
  2. Part of the keynote is choose-ur-own-adventure like on Twine or a simple branching Google form. The idea is that folks onsite or online get to choose between a list of topics or provocations. Those can each link to a particular blogpost of mine (or a enabled page where they can add comments), or lead to some page with further questions or a Google doc to post their thoughts. Participants virtually can use those digital venues, and participants onsite can chat to someone beside them about the topic if they’re feeling social (or engage digitally if they’re not feeling social, which would be sad, but some people might prefer it).
  3. The digital engagements (via google form, doc, or Twitter or whatever format) I can respond to later. But the onsite folks… I could walk around and ask onsite folks who want to share some thoughts on the topic they were discussing and raise further questions or make points
  4. Part of the keynote is a call to action. I would offer some suggestions and invite everyone to make their own resolutions to themselves, sharing if comfortable 

There are 3 tricky things here that i can think of off the top of my head

  1. I don’t want the engagement with the audience to end up by some audience members taking up lots of time looking intellectual without giving others opportunities to speak. I could just ask people to not do that, I guess? I have a feeling the OER17 crowd are mostly not gonna have that type of problem, to be honest. 
  2. I wanna have opportunities for audience members to engage with each other not just me. With people sitting far away and not just nearby. I have several plans for that 
  3. I don’t want people to feel cheated of a keynote by me. This is tricky. It’s also kinda weird if i am the first Egyptian person to keynote OER conference (I suspect I am?) that I end up making space for other (in many ways less marginal?) voices. However, the links would mostly be to articles or blogposts by me anyway so it wouldn’t be totally not my ideas. I also considered a “random” option (linking to a randomly generated blogpost of mine just for kicks – it’s as easy as:
  4. Ok one more. I worry that I might choose people I know to speak. Or that people who know me feel more comfortable speaking than others. By a rough estimate, I would know about 30-50 people in that audience. I actually considered making a list so I don’t miss meeting or shaking hands with everyone at some point, but that seems crazy, huh? But I definitely don’t want to be cliquish in my keynote!

So there’s the idea. Feedback welcome.

I wonder if I should get IRB approval if I do this, because the Google form would collect data.

I wonder if the room wifi will be good enough for this activity also. I don’t know if many ppl in the UK use LTE or 3G given that almost every shop and café in London has free wifi

Over to you

9 thoughts on “Choose-ur-own-adventure Keynote? #oer17

  1. I think it is interesting, but think it would work better at DigPed then at OER … you are articulating one of the worries – in that people aren’t expecting a workshop for a keynote so they might feel cheated (not really cheated just disappointed at not hearing enough from you). I find that I want to hear more about your experience because that is something that I won’t hear elsewhere – like the realities of not being there in person and how different it is to be there in person – and the ways in which you were able to find your voice in temporal spaces – and the real challenges that you fact to actually be there in person.

    In choose your own adventure, I would be afraid of it just amplifying the voices of the majority. People choosing what they are most comfortable with, rather than the provocations that they need to grow/learn. I’d also worry about the small group conversations being dominated by those with the loudest voices/most privilege, which I see way too often at conferences.

    I think you have many great ideas here … one thing that I thought is that you could somehow show how you interact in temporal ways – and you could allow virtual people to actually ask you questions from the main stage screen – like have a few people in a hangout where the questions aren’t asked by someone in the room, but rather they are asked by someone who is also virtual (so instead of having someone in the room asking questions from twitter, have someone virtual ask them and have them be projected on the main stage screen) … just a random thought/idea …

    1. For some reason, given that there will hopefully be VC sessions later, i prefer to keep live questions to mostly onsite ppl and leave virtual ones to a VC session afterwards. Also some of these ideas are conducive to asynchronous interaction so folks on different timezones can ask later.

      All ur other points are well taken – thanks Becky

  2. Hi Maha – thanks for this post!

    I think you’e anticipated most of the issues I’d raise here. I don’t think it’s so much that people would feel cheated out of a keynote by this approach (it’s your keynote so your approach will be the right one!), but I agree with Rebecca that it isn’t a huge amount of time and people will be really keen to hear what you have to say, and your take on the conference theme – the Politics of Open. You’ll need to give yourself and everyone else enough time to frame what it is you are asking people to contribute to on the day, since not everyone will be necessarily able to participate prior to the talk, for a whole range of reasons.

    I can’t comment on the technical issues relating to the venue at this point – other than to say I know the ALT team will do their absolute best to support off site participation, as they always do! Someone will be keeping an eye on online participation to ensure that there is an opportunity to feed in the questions of distance attendees.

    1. Thanks Josie (and for your DM). I wasn’t expecting most ppl to engage prior (i suspect many who are engaging already aren’t gonna be there in person, and I don’t want to privilege ppl onsite who know me vs those who don’t). I’m thinking now of how to achieve my goal of addressing different interests/needs while highlighting my stance w/o taking away too much talking time. Ok definitely ambitious. Is that normal for a first keynote from someone who likes to challenge tradition?

  3. It’s an idea certainly worth playing with even as you are doing in thinking it out. Rebecca and Josie pointed out the logistical and behavioral challenges that might end up reinforcing the norms you typically speak out against.

    And while you say that you ‘talk a lot” this setting is different from reading blog posts or watching archived talks. While it gets a bad rap painted as a “lecture” a single person’s perspective for a focussed amount of time, in front of a live audience, can be a way to get a focused message out there (thinking of the Horton/Freire conversation on exceptions to “charismatic leaders”).

    I would say you are trying to pack a lot into the talk, that you might think more broadly. What if you could consider the talk to be the provocation / call to action that could then be carried out after the talk, in conversation on site, and the branching space online? My own hangup in choose your adventure is that often the outcomes are too predictable from the choices, and that in life ou decisions are more usually more complex than 3 choices.

    Okay here is an idea. What if you opened with this idea that you thought about doing the keynote in this format; you could do one round to play it out as an example, and then use it as a jump off point to say why there are the very challenges you, Rebecca, and Josie pointed out? Most likely you can then talk about the very problems of dominant voices, leader choices, the distanced virtual audience…

    1. I like that, Alan…playing with it in my head some more. Of course, because i haven’t told any one person all the parts of the keynote, no one can see how it all fits together… But i am getting snippets of useful ideas. Thank you

    2. I agree with Alan and the standout keynotes in my mind were a single voice talks (my view is probably slightly biased as most of the keynotes I’ve seen in the last 4 years have been at #altc where there is a very rich twitter back channel). These also work well as recordings, a resource people can revisit at a later date and hopefully stimulate a long tail reaction/interest. Still important to make people ask questions but they may be internal reflections as well as out-loud. Voting/discussion on something like moral statements can be interesting but can be very time consuming particularly on the first vote

  4. Hi Maha – it’s a really nice idea. But I think others have articulated some of the concerns – if it was just a normal session then you could play more but a keynote comes with a set of expectations and plus it’s a big audience. So interaction is always difficult, plus we really want to hear your voice.
    But challenging our expectations of a keynote is also good. I did a session at OpenEd once where I had 20 topics under open scholarship but only time to talk about 5. I got my daughter to go into the audience and get ppl to select a card, then I’d talk about that. It worked really well & lots of ppl said it was their favourite session. I tried the same thing a fortnight later (without daughter), and it bombed big time. The audience wanted a straightforward talk.
    So maybe you could do something similar where you have your main thread and we get to select one or two options but it’s still mainly you.

    1. Thanks Martin. So you actually articulated what I was considering doing after all the feedback so far: summarize 4 different threads of conversation or provocations then poll the audience on which of the 4 they would like me to focus on. I would be prepared to talk about all of them (I don’t use lots of slides so it wouldn’t be actually a lot more work). And the beginning part of the keynote would focus on the things I already wanted to highlight for sure…the choice part would be different angles on expanding an idea…

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