SXSWedu is almost here and this year’s theme is “Unleash Your Innovation,” which is exactly what we plan to do! If you are headed to Austin we want to share a few sessions where you’ll be sure to find the Getting Smart team. If SXSWedu isn’t in your conference schedule this year- we promise to cover and share all the innovation being unleashed throughout that week. Stay tuned March 3-6 as we focus on education innovation, Austin-style.

Here’s a rundown of the Getting Smart sessions:

Investing in Education Innovation 2.0 (#edinnovate)

Monday, March 3
1:00PM – 3:00PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon E

Alex Hernandez (Charter School Growth Fund) and Tom Vander Ark (Getting Smart) facilitate a fully interactive session on funding start-ups and growth organizations. Interested donors and funders will get an outline of investment options both philanthropic grants and return-seeking. Schools and organizations seeking to raise money will get tips of speaking to donors and investors. Come ready with questions!

Cook Up a Batch of Blended Learning (#blendedlearning)

Tuesday, March 4
11:30AM – 1:30PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon E

Nathan Martin (Digital Learning Now!), Carri Schneider (Getting Smart) and Alison Anderson (Getting Smart) host this workshop designing next gen school models based on the Food Network’s game show, Chopped. The workshop begins with a brief introduction to blended learning implementation, including key decisions schools need to make as well as an overview of blended learning schools. Groups will then work together to design their own elementary or secondary model.

Come prepared with your own digital device- groups will present their model and be judged on the likelihood to boost achievement and innovation.

Here’s the rundown of other sessions we are looking forward to:

Rethinking Teaching and Learning: Competency-Based Education

Monday, March 3
4:30PM – 5:30PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon A
Join Susan Patrick (iNACOL) and Maureen Wentworth (CCSSO) for a session featuring policies enacted that support competency-based education to encourage student-centered teaching. In this session you will learn about national and state policy initiatives, emerging practice in digital learning, and the IT systems to support competency-based learning to prepare every student for today’s global society.

Connecting the Blended-Learning Dots

Tuesday, March 4
12:00PM – 1:00PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon A

Matthew Peterson (MIND Research) and Chris Liang-Vergara (FirstLine Schools) believe technology can improve each student’s educational experience and social media expands the reach of classrooms for students and for teachers. This interactive conversation will focus on blended learning in elementary schools, highlight school examples, and unpack how teachers can implement blended learning from the ground up. Presenters and participants will share best practices and advice for those conquering blended learning in their schools.

Providing Digital Access for All, Not Some (#techaccess)

Tuesday, March 4
1:30PM – 2:30PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon F

Matt Akin (Superintendent, Piedmont City Schools) and Jason Tomassini (Digital Promise) know technology can connect typically under-served populations—low-income, minority and rural—to a world of information and high-quality resources previously unavailable. But we still have a digital learning gap in America. Although some students have access to technology for learning; many don’t. In this interactive session, attendees will help school leaders answer the question: How can we use technology so high-quality opportunities to learn are open to everyone, not just a few?

Individualization for Children with Special Needs (#speced)

Wednesday, March 5
12:00PM – 1:00PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon A

Clay Whitehead (PresenceLearning) illustrates how special education programs face huge pressure: more students with autism and other disorders, increased demand for Response-to-Intervention (RtI), and fewer trained professionals to serve these students—all while doing more with less. Online technology alleviates this pressure and delivers truly individualized and accessible education for students with special needs. Find out how technology is transforming special education and how you can understand and effectively advocate in this new world.

Women: Disruptors of Education (#eduwomen)

Wednesday, March 5
3:00PM – 4:00PM
Austin Convention Center Room 16AB

Panelists Jessie Woolley-Wilson (DreamBox), Betsy Corcoran (EdSurge), Deborah Quazzo (GSV) and Lynda Weinman (Lynda.com) are challenging their businesses to evolve at the speed of technology and to push education towards the future. These women are known for revolutionizing online learning, helping set the global agenda on education and technology, and advising some of the most promising young education start-ups. They will discuss the evolution of what leadership in learning looks like and share the lessons they’ve learned.

Optimizing Learning: A Preview of the Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet Report  (#AspenTaskForce)

Thursday, March 6
10:30AM – 11:30AM
Austin Convention Center Room 18ABCD

John Bailey (Digital Learning Now!), Charlie Firestone (The Aspen Institute), Rosario Dawson (Voto Latino) and Anil Dash (Activate) discuss how the Internet presents unique and unconventional learning opportunities to empower and engage youth in new ways, but also how it raises concerns about their safety and privacy. Over the last 12 months, the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and The Internet convened 20 of the sharpest minds in the industry to explore these issues and craft recommendations to optimize online learning and innovation without compromising safety. The panel will preview their report highlighting these issues.

Social Media Lounge Hosted by Compass Learning

12:00PM – 6:00PM
Austin Convention Center Room 13AB

SXSWedu Social Media Lounge, sponsored by Austin’s very own Compass Learning, is designed to be a comfy, creative space, à la your fav coffee house. A place for bloggers to engage in the #socialedu world, or for anyone who just want to be part of the conversations in and around the panels and event. It is also open to panelists, keynote speakers, and conference attendees. Special guests include student bloggers from high schools around Austin who will write about the conference from their unique perspectives.

Stop by the Lounge on Tuesday, March 4th at 4PM for a special Tweet Up – to meet, chat and tweet all about personalized learning. The perfect place to connect with others who are just as excited about all the innovation happening in order to make learning tailored to all students needs. While you’re there personalize your own power up snack! We will have great goodies to choose from to make sure you get just what you need to power up before the keynote and the rest of the night’s events.

Social Media. Follow the happenings and engage in the conversation at #SXSWedu and #socialedu14. Be sure to check-in on Foursquare at the SXSWedu Social Lounge by Compass Learning lounge for fun prizes. #eduwinner

Digital Learning Now!, MIND Research, DreamBox, Compass Learning and PresenceLearning are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. 

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