You Talkin to Me?

20th February 20156:50 am

One of the best parts of the last five years was the chance I had to travel around the country and even around the world on occasion representing the Obama administration. I’d meet new people and learn new things. In most cases, I was expected to give a little speech or talk or appear on a panel or something like that. In some cases, the talks I delivered were at larger events, particularly when I was filling in for a more senior official. Some of my talks were recorded on camera or audio. I must confess that I feel a bit uncomfortable linking them here for all the usual reasons; I see things I wish I’d said better. I think of things I wish I’d said. Things like that. And also because these days I’m uncomfortable with the way I look. In recent years, keeping my weight down has been especially difficult. Seeing these videos reminds me of that challenge and will be, I hope, more motivating than depressing.

Either way, though, I want to assemble videos/audios of my recent talks in a single location, at least those I can find so I have made a start below. During my five years in the Obama administration I always tried to honor my obligation to engage in something called “message discipline.” Like any presidential administration, when we spoke on behalf of the administration we had guidance on key message points that were to be communicated, talking points, things like that. I always tried hard to get those messages across in my own way but I must confess that from time to time I did something I always thought President Obama would like even though I never got a chance to talk with him directly about it.  That is, when making these talks I also often tried to push the envelope if and when I could, to move the conversation toward some of the more difficult issues, necessary challenges to special interests and to entrenched ways of doing things. It wasn’t exactly a bully pulpit as there are just a few speakers at that level who can have that kind of influence. But it was for me a podium from which some ripples might be made and I did my best at that when I could.

Here is a short talk I gave near the start of the Obama administration:

 

 

This is an audio only webcast that I particuarly like, mostly because of the smart questions and exchanges with the interviewer, Rob Farrow, from the OER Research Hub:

 

 

Here’s a talk I gave to at the annual meeting of the International Council for Open and Distance Education in Bali, Indonesia in 2011:

 

 

Here is a talk I gave at the Open Language Summit in 2011:

 

Here is a talk I gave in Barcelona, Spain, in 2010:

 

I’ll add some more when I have a bit more time…

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