I Just got out from Ron Oliver’s keynote, which was nice: reassuring rather than inspiring. As Ron covered the bases with a very broad discussion of a load of stuff from learning designs to design-based research I was reminded of Clay Shirky’s recent post on the Bayesian advantage of youth. I have noticed that many of the great and good have such a broad and deep knowledge of the area that their talks make use of a kind of shorthand and are (perhaps) so profound that they actually wind up stating the obvious. It is a bit like the old joke about people calling out numbers to stand in for jokes they already know. It would be quite entertaining to give a presentation in which this idea is taken to its logical extreme, just saying keywords like ‘authentic’, ‘constructive alignment’, ‘community of practice’, ‘blogging’ etc etc etc. Perhaps the audience could applaud after each word, or just nod sagely. No need to expand further.
It is interesting that ignorance leads to the same problem: I am currently sitting in a presentation by a nice man with a moustache who has done some research that was old news 15 years ago, also stating the obvious (in this case that you have to rethink teaching strategies when doing it electronically and that students like being able to access course notes at any time!).
The interesting stuff happens when we know a little, not when we are complete beginners and not when we are world experts. The people that most consistently inspire me are those that are constantly moving into new territories. As they cross the borders from one subject area to another, sparks often fly.
By: Jon Dron
Posted: June 26, 2007, 11:30 am