SXSW EDU 2014 Recap

"The SXSWedu Conference & Festival features four days of compelling sessions, socials, and events for education professionals, industry leaders and policy practitioners committed to the future of teaching and learning."

Some of TechChef4u's favorite sessions and topics are recapped below:

Digital Zombie Apocalypse

This session from Carl Hooker (@mrhooker) on managing your digital life is linked in greater detail below. The post includes copious resources for coping with digital distractions and ideas for transforming yourself from digital zombie to zen.

A Liberal, Two Geniuses, And Sir Knewton Walk Into A...

This session was by far the most lively and honest panel I attended. I was a bit saddened that one of the panelists had to attend virtually rather than in person as I thought it might put a damper on the panel. Fortunately, this circumstance did not inhibit the discussions and discourse. (My intent is not to side with panelists but to objectively summarize their insights).

The panelists included:

Many of the questions were archived at #BAEideas

  • Buzz Words: They began by asking the audience for 3 buzz words that the panelists could not use: “Big Data” and “Fail Up” and “Disruption”
  • Classroom of the Future Take-Aways (from the panel discussion):
    • less arbitrary structures around grade levels and classroom units
    • every student every day has a individualized experience
    • dynamic real time data for teachers - data is not an autopsy - but a GPS to inform you of your next move
    • teacher evaluation is helpful for improving their practice
    • a shift from paper assessments to digitally accessible and actionable ones
    • evidence-based education and experiential learning
  • Favorite Quotes (from the panel discussion):
    • “We are starting to think about pedagogy as an industry - how do kids learn" - Lippincott

    • "History of education has been about activities and tasks because they couldn’t measure proficiencies at scale" - Ferreira
    • No one says in gaming, “I got to level 7 - did you test out of level 6?” - Lippincott

The Virtual Human Right

Jack Andraka (@jackandraka) is simply an amazing science prodigy. He is truly well-spoken and forward-thinking. If you are interested in learning more about his story, I highly suggest you watch this video or his TED talk.

I won't get too detailed about his back story as the videos do a most excellent job explaining it. Rather I will share my take-aways from his talk:

  • Fail Up: he received 199 rejection letters and 1 positive email from Johns Hopkins (truly if you are passionate about an idea - your drive will lead you to succeed).
  • Paywalls: Jack believes there is a "fundamental barrier between youth and scientific research" and cites an example where a Katy Perry single costs 99 cents and research article costs $35. He went on to state that there is a "knowledge middle class and an under class", that we should shift from a "knowledge aristocracy to democracy" and that "knowledge should not be a commodity" especially as he has proven that transformational ideas can come from unexpected places.
  • Student Representation and Individualized Learning: Jack stated that students are either, "victims or benefactors of education policy" and they need to be incorporated in these policy decisions. He even quipped that our current system for students is "education without representation."


This session was highly interactive and did a great job providing a deeper understanding of SAMR and how to apply and integrate it. Three amazingly excellent ADE's delivered a SAMR Smackdown!

Felt like this session deserved a post devoted solely to it. The post includes an iTunes U course and more detailed information, links, and videos to support delivering your own SAMR SLAMR Smackdown (post coming shortly).

Here is a teaser while you wait for the post... can you tell what level of SAMR this video addresses?

Great Schools: A Vision for the Future

My intent is not to get political with this summary but to objectively highlight and summarize one partisan's view on the future of education.

While Wendy Davis' (@WendyDavisTexas) comments were directed to her vision for education in Texas, truly many of her ideas could be applied to other state education policies:

  • Funding: has not kept pace with our needs and unique challenges
  • Local Control: respect local control and unique communities - don’t force unfunded mandates
  • Teacher Salaries: increase teacher salaries to national standard
  • Standardized Testing: reduce number of standardized tests and focus on what are your strengths and weaknesses and how do we fill the gap
  • Critical Thinking and Technology: vision for blended learning and a vibrant learning atmosphere with unlimited learning capacity
  • Early Education: invest in early education and full-day PreK

During her interview she cited two pieces of literature:

She also mentioned her 4 Plank platform. I have added a few more articles that address some of the topics:

How Teacher Motivations Shape Digital Learning

To be fair, I didn't actually attend this session... I bumped in to a friend of mine that was raving about the session and let me take a snapshot of the handout for later review. Truly, this is the benefit and perk of conferences of this nature. While you certainly cannot be present for all of the #awesomesauce, someone always is and will go the extra mile to share!

Visit the interactive graphic above to discover your Digital Horroscope.


Some of the best learning happens the day after an event when you have time to reflect and digest. Over the past few months, I have heard great things about Kahoot! and formative assessment. While I missed Kahoot! at the Education Playground, Tanna Fiske (fellow iVenger) met up with them and invited them to visit Hill Country MS to see teachers and students in action (pic below). Truly this was a great app-ortunity for all!  - The students even got to interview them for HCTV (pic above).

Kahoot! blends formative assessment and gaming in a clever way. While it is not meant to be a replacement for Nearpod or Infuse Learning, Kahoot defines itself in the assessment arena.

From listening to some of the student and teacher conversations that day and observing the tool in action in a variety of content areas and settings, it was obvious that Kahoot effectively blended assessment and engagement.

If you are interested in learning more about Kahoot, check out this video...

... and visit their site to create an account.

Consider Attending  -  SXSWEDU 2015

Check out Mathy Cathy's SXSEDU  recap Thinglink

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