Things to Do, Places to Go, People to Meet at SXSWedu 2016 (K-12 Edition)

Things to Do, Places to Go, People to Meet at SXSWedu 2016 (K-12 Edition)


What happens in Austin—gets posted on EdSurge.

Get ready for thousands of entrepreneurs, educators, administrators and everyone in between to descend on Austin next week for SXSWedu. It’s one of the biggest education conference of the year, and you don’t want to waste any time if you want to get the most out of the hundreds of sessions happening over the four days. (Pro tip: wear comfortable shoes!)

In advance, we’re bringing you the sessions that caught our fancy and, yes, the ones we’ll be moderating. And what’s SXSWedu without a party? On the evening of Tuesday, Mar. 8, we’re also hosting a shindig with 4.0 SchoolsHireEducationMichelson Runway AcceleratorNewSchools Venture Fund, and Reach Capital! Our night of fun will be on the rooftop of Speakeasy in downtown Austin, and we’re bringing together the movers and shakers of education.

More interested in conversations about higher ed? Check out our survival guide to SXSWedu’s higher ed offerings.

EdSurge Sessions

Want to catch us on stage? We’d love to see you too!


12:30 - 1:30

Teachers have a wealth of untapped knowledge that education entrepreneurs would drool over. So why is it that teachers never seem to have a voice in the discussion of new products and services? Moderated by EdSurge Reporter, Blake Montgomery.


11:00AM - 12:00

Procuring edtech has never been a clear process, but as more and more classrooms need tech tools, finding and buying the right ones becomes all the more vital. How can we make it a seamless process? Leonard Medlock, Product Manager, will share plenty of wisdom.

11:00AM - 12:00

EdSurge Senior Editor Mary Jo Madda will ask the question, “Is traditional professional development better or worse than competency-based PD, or should there be a balance of both?”


9:30AM - 10:30

Allison Dulin Salisbury, Director of Higher Education Strategy will ask panelists to ruminate on the research and development in higher education: “How can we intentionally design universities to change fast—even as fast as the needs of students themselves are changing?”

11:00AM - 12:00

Betsy Corcoran, founder and CEO, will share her questions about efficacy: “What do we really know about how to measure the effectiveness of EdTech tools? What are the ‘results’ that we’re trying to measure? How are the current pilots proceeding? What seems to be making a difference for a spectrum of learners?”

Topic Spotlight: Virtual Reality

There’s an ocean of writing about virtual reality, but what does using it in the classroom look like?


12:30 - 3:30

What theoretical challenges face educators and higher ed faculty teaching with virtual and augmented reality? Are there pedagogical challenges that VR/AR content creators haven’t anticipated? Teachers from around the world will convene and discuss.


1:30 - 3:30

A workshop that will allow you to immerse yourself in several different VR experiences and design your own lessons that use them.


3:10 - 3:25

The British Museum, one of the foremost collections of artifacts and art in the world, launched a virtual reality environment last year. The curators are bringing the same setting, a Bronze Age round house, to testers at SXSWedu.



Parents don’t seem to trust that schools and companies have their children’s best interests at heart when it comes to those students’ data. What will it take to build that trust?


Four directors of kids’ coding organizations will come together and ask the tough questions: Do all kids actually need to code? What does it mean for kids to code?


Three leaders who have recently opened schools in New York City are bringing their challenges to the SXSWedu crowd. As per the organizers: Participants will engage in brainstorming, a ‘How Might We?’ protocol, and prototyping and revision work around challenges related to student-centered school design.”



LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir is sitting down for an intimate chat. Stay tuned for a new announcement from LittleBits during her talk.


The first teachers to be named Allen Distinguished Educators are discussing what it takes to ignite high school students’ passion and what they can bring to companies that no one else can.


Educational gaming has a troubled history. These four panelists are looking at the industry’s ethics and discussing the guidelines and ramifications of making games.



Spotify says hip hop is the most popular genre of music in the world. But it is often stigmatized and considered inappropriate and crass. But what if it holds the key to engaging students and helping them build the mental fortitude to succeed in school and college?


“Join us for a fun-spirited debate around innovation and scale in charters vs. districts...Moderated by Julia Freeland, we expect a bare knuckle bar brawl.” Need we say more?


9:30AM - 10:30

The Maker Movement has made a lot of promises, but without careful planning, what will happen as the dreams of the movement fail to reach communities?

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