SXSWedu 2015


Photo by Steve Rogers

Photo by Steve Rogers

We’re reporting this week from SXSWedu in Austin, Texas. With an open mind and a full schedule we are diving in to meet other educators innovating in various learning environments. We’ll be recapping each day here with photos, video and thoughts. We’ll also include links to Assistant Professor of Clinical Education Helena Seli’s daily recaps and’s Teacher of the Day series by Michelle Manno. Check back each day for a new update and links!


Crowdsourcing, Edcamp, Teacher Leaders and Edupreneurs

Day one at SXSWedu was jam-packed with sessions, workshops and networking opportunities. Charles Best of kicked off the conference with an inspiring talk on how crowdsourcing is changing the face of education.


Disruption: Better or Worse

Read Professor Helena Seli’s recap Disruption: Better or Worse that discusses Charles Best’s talk and the session “Disrupting the Disruption of Higher Ed.”

We then attended EdcampATX where we learned what an unconference is really like and how teachers are using it to create their own professional development at districts across the country.


#Edcampatx at #sxswedu-developing our own professional development mini conference.

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We joined in on the breakout session “A in STEAM.” We started out by having each person say one thing they wanted to learn more about, which included things like education improve, sketch notes and design thinking. We shared examples of how to implement design thinking into any class, the roadblocks to creating a school culture that encourages inquisitive questioning and how sketch notes can help students of all levels.


Adam Holman, assistant principal at Murchison Middle School in Austin, tells us more about #EdcampATX. #sxswedu

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We also spoke with EdcampATX member Adam Holman, read his bio and story in’s Teacher of the Day series.

Later we attended a EdTech Women meet-up where we met Austin-based special education teacher Liz Alcaron. Alcaron integrates technology into her day-to-day teaching and has created amazing projects like QR codes and GIFs to teach her students. Read her blog at Teaching Mass Nerder: A Special Education Teacher’s Reflections.


Photo by Marketplace Learning Curve, who interviewed them Tuesday morning.

Photo by Marketplace Learning Curve, who interviewed them Tuesday AM.

At the SXSWedu Opening Party, we met the creators of Classcraft, brothers Shawn and Devon Young, along with other edupreneurs.


Debate, Diversity, Making and Walking Classes

We started out the day meeting Anisha Bhandari, creator of U Debate.

We also attended a session on increasing diversity in ed tech and workplace environments with Cori Coburn-Shiflett, Rafranz Davis, Sarah Thomas and Shelly Sanchez Terrell.



Rosanne Somerson, president of Rhode Island School of Design, discusses the impact of critical making.

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Whether you are making art, crafting or designing, Rosanne Somerson believes we can use making as a process in thinking, instead of just a means to an end in her talk “The Impact of Critical Making.

Later, we met fifth grade teacher Laura Fenn who created the nonprofit The Walking Classroom. When faced with a lack of opportunities for student activity during the day, Fenn decided to make her classroom an audio experience so her students could still learn while walking outside.

A Day of Dichotomies

Read Professor Seli’s day two recap A Day of Dichotomies highlighting learning outcomes vs. career outcomes and making vs. consuming.


Teachers in Our Lives, Our Minds and the Media

When you think of a teacher, a certain image comes to mind. Our personal relationships with teachers plus their portrayal in the media all inform our understanding of what it means to be a teacher.


NPR Education team real talk on education reporting. #sxswedu

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Today we learned what it’s like to find stories from teachers themselves in “Insights of Great Teachers” with the NPR Education team. Steve Drummond, Cory Turner, Eric Westervelt, Claudio Sanchez and Anya Kamenetz all shared their personal experiences reporting on education. They discussed how to tell the story without bias, judgement or imposing fear on teachers or administrators when they want to visit the classroom.

We also watched the premiere of The Road to Teach by Roadtrip Nation and Participant Media at the Alamo. In the film, three students interested in working in education take a road trip from NorCal to Washington, DC interviewing inspiring educators along the way. The film is a must-see for anyone interested in the current state of education and how anyone can play a part in making it better.



Would-Be-Nice to Must-Haves: Putting Tech Into Ed Tech

Read Professor Seli’s day three recap Would-Be-Nice to Must-Haves: Putting Tech Into Ed Tech highlighting apps that help teachers mediate learning in individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities.


Connecting, Collaborating and Mindfulness

Today marks the end of this year’s SXSWedu conference in Austin. As SXSW interactive signage goes up and edu props are coming down, many education leaders, innovators and thinkers are leaving Texas with their heads and hearts filled to the brim.

On our last day at SXSWedu we noticed some themes of connectedness, collaboration and mindfulness. We practiced relationship building skills in the Creating Collaborative Environments for Students session led by Humberto Perez in the SXSWedu Playground.


Bean bag juggling exercise in creating collaborative learning environments led by Humberto Perez. #sxswedu

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Browsing the bookstore at #sxswedu

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SXSWedu wraps up in a closing program featuring talks by Sal Khan, Goldie Khan, Mimi Ito and Bob Santelli. We connected with each other in live tweeting during Mimi Ito’s talk and learned about mindfulness from Goldie Khan. We were inspired by Sal Khan and Bob Santelli as innovative educators in online and museum learning environments.




Goldie Hawn uses virtual avatars to demonstrate taking brain breaks @sxswedu #sxswedu

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