It’s a big bustling conference stretching over four days with with lots of hangouts, receptions, and announcements. It’s not mission-focused and coherent (e.g., better blended and online learning) like an iNACOL event; there’s a stronger startup culture than at an ISTE event; there are more teachers than at ASU, but some of it (i.e., keynote choices) like Austin, were just weird. Oh, and it was cold, like freezing rain cold.
SXSWedu is the first of the spring EdTech trifecta. A half a dozen of the Getting Smart team braved the cold for the queso and kicked out 10 blogs and hundreds of tweets.
In the opening slot, Alex Hernandez, Charter School Growth Fund, and I kicked off our annual Investing in Education Innovation workshop. “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur,” said Alex. We crowdsourced some trends and commented on two dozen pitches as Edupreneurs took a dip in the Dolphin Tank (a kinder, gentler Shark Tank).
While SXSWedu was warming up we heard from Susan Patrick of iNACOL, National Teacher of the Year, Jeff Charbonneau and college and career readiness expert David Conley.
With Digital Learning Now! and The Learning Accelerator, we hosted a school design workshop where teams cooked up a few Blended Learning Recipes. Check out this live report from high school junior Brianna Soliz.
Our Wednesday coverage highlighted David Coleman, College Board, who said, “that for students to write with care, is perhaps the single most preparation for college, career and future work.” US EdTech Director Richard Culatta pitched ConnectEDWendy Kopp pitched Teach For AllClay Whitehead pitched individualization for students with special needs.
In the SXSWedu Wrap John Bailey, Rosario Dawson, Anil Dash and Charlie Firestone from the Aspen Task Force discussed digital literacy and safety. Jessica Rosenworcel recapped FCC plans to update E-rate. Three CEE-Trust members discussed A Collaborative Approach to Transforming Your City.
Many of the sessions were very traditional and really boring–panel of four with table top microphones. The organizers should read my recent post on Designing Powerful Learning Experiences. It’s time to flip and blend SXSW.
EdTech Selfie. Caryn Voskuil, from Rocketship Education, at the LaunchEDU awards said SXSWedu was “a big EdTech selfie.” There are a lot of announcements–we recapped the big ones in EdTech10 and outlined 10 Things You’ll Like About The Amplify Middle Grade ELA Curriculum .
The best part of this conference (like most) is the lobby conversations with passionate and talented educators and entrepreneurs. Here’s a recap of 110 Interesting Edupreneurs at SXSW.
Check out the entire Storify wrap up of our #SXSW14 adventure here:

Digital Learning Now is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner. Tom is a Director at iNACOL.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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