EdTech Event: An Overview of SXSWedu

By Monica Burns 04.01.2015 blog

This year I had the opportunity to attend SXSWedu in Austin, Texas. Although many wonderful events take place across the nation for educators, SXSWedu brings together a large group of innovative and passionate professionals from different walks of life. There are K-12 teachers, higher ed instructors, school administrators, EdTech product developers and education leaders from a variety of industries.

SXSWedu featured presentations that showed the power of purposeful and thoughtful technology integration. This included sessions by fellow Apple Distinguished Educators on primary education, digital curiosity and accessibility. Each one provided insight on how digital tools can transform learning environments. Many sessions included opportunities to pose questions to individual presenters.

In addition to the great sessions, SXSWedu’s featured speakers shared some of their big ideas for transforming education. Carl Hooker spoke about ways that parents can support their students as users of digital technology tools. He also showed off Kahoot, a powerful tool that can increase engagement with an audience of any size and make up. Carl placed questions up on the screen and everyone in the audience could use their smartphone to answer. This tool is used with students across the country.

Guy Kawasaki talked to the attendees at his session about the power of social media. He shared a website that I love called Canva which makes it easy for teachers and students to use graphic design tools. It’s a good choice for kids who want to make infographics or posters to demonstrate their understanding.

As is true of many conferences, much of the learning that takes place happened outside of the designated rooms in more informal learning spaces. Many companies and organizations held after-hour events to show off their products and talk to teachers. I learned about Bulb and how teachers in Texas are using it to create digital portfolios with their students. I also had the chance to meet with members of the EdTech Women group who held an event in downtown Austin.

SXSWedu included a lot of big ideas as well as actionable advice for educators. This was a conference full of panel presentations so that attendees could hear multiple perspectives on important issues in education. There were sessions geared towards a variety of exciting topics making it hard to pick which presentation to go see.

When it comes to attending any conference it’s nice to have a plan of what sessions you’d like to sit in on, yet feel flexible enough to change your mind once things get started. SXSWedu was a fantastic event thanks in large part to the people I met and spent time with during the week. If you’re looking for an inspiring event — with easy access to delicious barbecue — add SXSWedu to your calendar!

Have you attended SXSWedu? Do you have a favorite conference?

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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