Your Syllabus to SXSW EDU 2019 (and Where to Find Us!)


Your Syllabus to SXSW EDU 2019 (and Where to Find Us!)

By Tony Wan     Feb 19, 2019

Your Syllabus to SXSW EDU 2019 (and Where to Find Us!)

Between the barbeque and baristas, the dive bars and dueling pianos, thousands of educators, along with entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policymakers across the education industry, will descend on Austin, Texas, during the first week of March for SXSW EDU.

Now in its ninth year, the show has become a staple for convening a potpourri of ideas that span broad swaths of the education community, from instructional practices and school models, to social inequities and far-out visions of the future that seem more like a dream than reality.

This year saw more than 1,500 session proposals from 42 countries, including 49 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. From those, event organizers and the public decided on the roughly 400 sessions that made the agenda. Here’s a look at the most popular topics in the proposals.

Most popular topic tags in SXSW EDU 2019 Panelpicker proposals

There are plenty of hands-on sessions with practical tips to apply in the classroom. For the techy wonks, there are discussions on blockchain and interoperability. And in keeping with the city’s “weird” pride, this year’s schedule features delightfully creative sessions involving hip hop and puppets, tattoos and zoos.

We’ll be there, too! In addition to finding us scribbling notes from the seats and hallways, you’ll also find us on stage. Below’s a cheatsheet to where we’ll be, and the other sessions on the agenda that caught our eye.

EdSurge Sessions

In between hearty servings of Tex-Mex and meat, won’t you have time to stop by and meet? Here are the times when you can find EdSurge on stage.

Monday, March 4, 5 p.m. Where School Safety, Security, & Surveillance Meet
Happy hour will have to wait, as we kick our sessions off with a sobering and important conversation that warrants your attention. From facial-recognition cameras to web and social media filtering software, surveillance technologies are finding their foothold in schools across America. Ostensibly these tools are for the greater good—keeping kids safe.

But how much surveillance is acceptable, and what are the implications for students’ privacy rights? EdSurge’s managing editor, Tony Wan, will pose these questions to Bill Fitzgerald (New Knowledge), Doug Levin (EdTech Strategies), Courtney Goodsell (Impero Software) and Stephanie Cerda (administrator at Austin Independent School District).

Tuesday, March 5, 11 a.m. SXSW EDU Launch Competition
Judge Tony will try his best Judy Judy impersonation, as he joins Bridge Burns (University Innovation Alliance), Vince Chan (Creta Ventures) and Jonathan Rochelle (Google) to dispense advice and feedback for eight companies pitching their wares. Companies include an AI robot, student incubator and a startup called Pie for Providers. Join us for a slice of the action!

Tuesday, March 5, 4 p.m. Who Does Online Education Really Serve?
Online education was supposed to provide access to quality education for those who can’t attend or afford traditional college. But it’s become increasingly unclear if online learning is living up to its promise for students, as concerns persist over quality, inequitable disparities in digital-learning participants and outcomes.

This session, moderated by EdSurge’s senior editor Jeff Young, will take the form of a series of lightning talks by Jill Buban (Unizen), Martin Kurzweil (Ithaka S+R) and Robert Ubell (New School), followed by a panel discussion with the speakers.

Thursday, March 7, 2 p.m. Translating Research Into Practice
When it comes to the constantly-evolving science of how we learn, what’s fact—or fiction? And how can educators and learners apply what research says into everyday practice? EdSurge CEO Betsy Corcoran will explore these questions and search for actionable tips with three executives from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative—K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard, Bror Saxberg and Priscilla Chan herself.

Monday, March 4

12:00 p.m. Developing Engaged Global Citizens of the Future: Swarthmore College President Valerie Smith explores how educators can equip students with the skills needed to support inclusive, diverse communities and prepare them to be proactive participants in the democracy and fight for a just future.

1:00 p.m. Arrested Development: Children, Trauma and School: The session may bring back memories of the TV comedy series, but the talk from former high-school principal Liz Dozier is serious matter. The CEO of nonprofit Chicago Beyond will explore “unconventional ways” in which her group has helped children overcome trauma and build the networks and supports they need.

3:30 p.m. Media Lit: A Make-or-Break Competency for Teachers: As students engage more and more with media, how are they to make sense of what’s reliable—or not? And how are educators supposed to prepare to teach media literacy lessons? Hear from speakers representing KQED, PBS, the National Association for Media Literacy Education and the Relay Graduate School of Education.

4:00 p.m. A Hidden Dimension: Equitable Science Classrooms: Perhaps you’ve heard of the Next Generation Science Standards. But what does it take to make access to quality science education truly accessible for every student? This workshops offers educators a glimpse into how science class can be redesigned to be more inclusive and accessible for all cultures.

Tuesday, March 5

11:00 a.m. Beyond the Hype: Adopting Predictive Analytics: Data analytics can only be as useful as how well they’re implemented. College officials from four large public universities share their trials and tribulations with using these tools, and offer a glimpse of how predictive analytics can be used properly to boost learning outcomes for low-income students.

12:30 p.m. Ban the SAT: College Admissions Redesigned: Standardized test score can be predictive of a lot of things—including inequitable admissions practices. Hear what led Hampshire College to ban standardized test results as an admissions requirement, and what the school has learned since.

2:00 p.m. Learning Science Truths All Educators Should Know: Left brain, right brain, learning styles and preferences. With the emergence of findings from neuroscience, psychology and other learning sciences, how can educators sort through what’s real or not? Researchers from three universities and Sesame Workshop offer a primer on what teachers should know.

5:00 p.m. Who Is Your SEL Program Not Serving? It’s not hard to get behind and support social-emotional learning. But what does it take to turn SEL from a feel-good idea into something that works in the classroom for all students?

5:30 p.m. From Courtroom to Classroom: An Inmate’s Tale: If prison is supposed to prepare inmates for society, then the current system is in dire need of improvement. A former inmate-turned-lawyer offers a glimpse of the education system behind bars, and how it falls far short of preparing learners to readjust and succeed outside.

Wednesday, March 6

11:00 a.m. Students’ Safety or Privacy? Why Not Both? Are safety and privacy zero-sum rights, and must one be sacrificed for the sake of the other? Speakers from the U.S. Department of Education, privacy advocacy groups and a school district explore how to find the right balance between the two ideals.

12:30 p.m. The Future of the K-12 Education Industry: From BigChalk to Pearson, then to Renaissance and now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jack Lynch has steered education companies through plenty of change in the digital era. Here’s his forecast for how the K-12 industry will continue to evolve and shape teaching and learning.

1:00 p.m. U Good? Empower Students to Manage Chronic Stress: For children, school can be stressful—for many reasons that originate beyond the classroom. Speakers from the American Public Health Association explore how educators and school communities can provide the support and strategies to help students cope with violence, food insecurity and other difficult situations.

3:30 p.m. Transforming Refugee Education Through EdTech: Disasters manmade and natural have displaced families, leading to growing population of refugees. This session explores how technology has been leveraged to support refugee learners and provide them with some opportunity to continue their education.

4:00 p.m. Improving Equity Through Unbiased Data: Data is not objective; in fact, the way it is collected, organized and analyzed reinforces bias and inequities. This session will explore how to be mindful when leaning on data to make inferences and decisions about students’ educational journeys.

5:00 p.m. Race, Social Media and the Role of Schools: Educational activism is on the rise and more visible than ever before. In the wake of transformational movements that connect students and teachers across social media, how should schools respond? This session explore how educators can support student activists and transform social justice struggles into teachable moments.

Thursday, March 7

11:00 a.m. Progress and Challenges for AI in Education: Artificial intelligence has moved beyond a pitch deck buzzword, and into reality as it shapes how adaptive learning and assessment tools operate. At this session, a pair of AI experts join an edtech investor and head of the superintendents association to explore what’s currently possible—and what’s not.

12:30 p.m. Is Your Marketing Plan Sinking Your K–12 Startup? Unfortunately, the best edtech products don’t speak for themselves, and are no guarantee of a successful business. Karen Vaites, who’s led marketing efforts for four different edtech organizations, offers the ins and outs, dos and don’ts when it comes to creating a marketing plan.

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