Before the opening Keynote at SXSWedu 2015, Ron Reed, the executive producer of the conference, spoke to the audience. He asked attendees to do three things during the conference: Learn a lot, meet new people, and have a good time. Four days later, at the closing session, he checked in with the audience to see if they followed through. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that most of the people in Ballroom D at the Austin Convention Center could nod and acknowledge that they had indeed heeded his advice.
One of the best parts of any conference is the dialogue that opens up around interesting and sometimes controversial topics. There were as many opinions about how to improve on the current educational systems, as there were attendees. Throughout the week, when I left sessions and panels, I was impressed with the expertise and professionalism of the speakers.
Though topics of debate in education don’t change quickly, the arguments for or against can be framed in new and innovative ways. Here are a few things topics that resonated with me because of the innovative ways in which they were presented:
Any good dialogue should make you question what you hear, what you think, and what you know. After letting my SXSWedu experience gel for a few days, I found I had just as many questions as answers, which is not a bad thing for a writer! The conference left me with many things to consider and research (and hopefully present to you in future articles here at Edudemic).
This question comes from a few brief chats with developers, as well as a fascinating conversation we had with other members of the press. Parental reporting features were missing in many educational apps.
In that same vein…
The conference takes place right before spring break (in Texas, anyway). Teachers can’t usually leave the classroom for four days before a scheduled vacation. This article from the Hechinger Report addresses the same issue. In fact, 409 people in the directory at SXSWedu Social were listed as K-12 teachers and 926 people were representing Education Business.
I was in a fascinating session and a young, eager developer in the audience was so enthusiastic about the speaker’s ideas that he asked what he could do to help. The speaker suggested the developer check out the website for more information. That seemed like a missed opportunity.
SXSWedu does have a fair share of women presenters, thanks in part to the high percentage of women in education. But I’d like to see more presentations by people of color, people with disabilities, and people who openly identify as LGBTQ.
Changing laws and policies in the educational realm is slow. The pendulum swings back and forth about every ten years. The Playground featured a lot of great apps and ideas, but overall sessions did not provide a lot of “ready to implement tomorrow” type of ideas.
Trying to summarize my 4-day SXSWedu experience in this thousand-word article was tough. It was difficult to decide what to include and what to leave out. There really is so much information to learn when you inundate yourself in the ideas of passionate, invested, and innovative teachers, administrators, policy-makers, students, and developers. So, be on the lookout for many more SXSWedu-inspired posts, because the world of education technology is full of profoundly inspiring stories, products, and ideas.
Looking for more SXSWedu coverage? Check out our previous articles, as well as an excellent recap from Teach.com!
Teach.com: SXSWedu 2015: Key Themes and Takeaways
Leah Levy: SXSWedu 2015: Big Changes and Big Themes
Amanda Ronan: Can I Make a 3D Print of Myself? Musings on SXSWedu