By Eduardo (Class of ’16) and Sofia (Class of ’17), Coronado High School
This past week during our spring break we attended #sxswedu in Austin. As a senior and junior in high school, #sxswedu was exciting and overwhelming as we sought to digest and process all the creative and innovative ideas. As we were two of only a handful of students attending, we believe many folks appreciated our student perspective on their initiatives and ideas.
As this is our first exposure to an EdTech school innovation conference, we didn’t realize that so many companies were creating new products and services to benefit us and our fellow classmates. Although many of these initiatives might be too late for us in our K-12 careers, it excites us to see what is to come.
One of our favorite sessions at #sxswedu was LaunchEdu, a live competition where education startups publicly present their ideas/products (which reminded us of the shark tank!). We thought that LaunchEdu was interesting, especially because we could see ourselves directly benefiting from a few of the ideas. We stayed and watched all two hours of the first round of presentations and are glad we did. We enjoyed observing the innovation and creativity on display because as students, we believe that our education system is outdated.
EdTech We Enjoyed
We could really see our high school and teachers benefiting from many of the companies such as wordsliive.org and listenwise.com. We also had the opportunity to speak to the founders of expii.com and parachuteteachers.com. We enjoyed speaking to them directly and giving our honest feedback as students. We were able to learn about their ideas on what they needed to be profitable and to continue growth.
Expii seems like it could change the way we learn using digital media as it has the ability to embed videos from sites such as Khan Academy, but it goes a step further and it has adaptive capabilities and allows for explanations and comments to be shared with an online community. This type of personalized tutor should be very affordable and it is easily accessible. Parachute is a company that, in our opinion, has potential to improve classrooms immediately.
As students in a challenging and rigorous IB program, we dread substitutes because they either fall asleep or let us have study hall, and we inevitable fall behind on the syllabus. This is boring and unproductive. Parachute is seeking to put a better quality substitute teacher in each classroom. If they can help solve this problem we believe time with substitutes could be much more productive. A change such as this is much needed because school can become very repetitive and boring, and bad substitutes simply compound this problem.
Our SXSWedu Conclusion
Although we enjoyed #sxswedu, we believe these types of events could benefit from having more students attend. We believe that an effort should be made to have students give their input because the concepts will be affecting them directly. We believe that getting a student’s point of view in panels, speeches and other events will help the businessmen and women see their product from a different perspective.
Attending #sxswedu really opened our eyes to the amount of work people are putting into making student’s school experience more enjoyable. Overall many people gave us advice on how to be happy and successful in school and future careers. Our biggest takeaway was the importance of building good relationships and being a person others enjoy working with. Although it pains us to admit it, our parents might be right in saying we should limit our time watching Netflix and playing PlayStation and build relationships for our futures!
For more Smart Student blogs, check out:
- 10 Tips For Success in an Online Class: Student-to-Student
- The Role of Student Voice, Passion and Communication in Reimagining Education Policy
- How I Paved my Unique Path with Career Path High
Sofia and Eduardo are students at Coronado High School in El Paso, TX. Follow Coronado on Twitter:@coronado_high.
Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update.