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April 29, 2014
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Conference Retrospective:
SXSWedu Conference & Festival 2014
SXSWedu Executive Producer Ron Reed describes the annual conference and festival held in Austin, Texas, as "a breeding ground for actionable outcomes" and a "celebration of innovations in learning."

Education stakeholders who took part in this year's event participated in meaningful conversation and collaboration around promising practices to improve teaching and learning. Sessions showcased ideas and best-practice strategies to inspire, engage, enlighten and entertain a community of education innovators.

In this conference retrospective, we highlight SmartBrief reporting from the ground. We also shine a light on thought-provoking featured and keynote speakers who brought to light leading topics and trends in education.  

Don't forget to start planning for the 2015 SXSWedu Conference & Festival, March 9 to 12 in Austin, Texas.

If you don't receive SmartBrief on EdTech and find these reports useful, we urge you to sign up for our free, timely e-newsletter. SmartBrief on EdTech delivers the stories making news in your profession directly to your inbox -- for free.
SmartBrief Reporting 
  • Student showcase: Best practices in social, mobile learning
    A "playground" session during the 2014 SXSWedu Conference & Festival focused on teachers as executive producers of digital media. High-school teacher Humberto Perez and his students led participants through a series of lessons highlighting best practices. "I think teachers are really intimidated with video, but it's not that hard," Perez said. "You really let the students do the work like they did today. You just have to guide them." SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 5 ways to stay true to the promise of educational technology
    Classroom technology can help create a better learning experience without being intrusive, according to Vivienne Ming and Norma Ming, co-founders of educational technology startup Socos, and keynote speakers at last month's SXSWedu Conference & Festival. SmartBrief senior education editor Melissa Greenwood lists five tips they offered to help "keep the promise of educational technology in the classroom," including designing with end users in mind, analyzing available data and thinking outside the classroom. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Ensuring education policy meets practice
    No act would do more to address civil rights than closing the achievement gap between African-American students and their white peers, former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said. Paige, a keynote speaker last month at the 2014 SXSWedu Conference & Festival, said policy is important, but the focus should be on ensuring that policy truly affects practice. "Responsibility is along the pipeline, but it has to be where the people walk the halls with students," Paige said. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Keynote Speakers 
  • Performing your life in the classroom
    Jeffrey Tambor is an award-winning film and Broadway actor and star of "Arrested Development." He also is an educator with 40 years of experience. As a teacher, father, husband and student, he cultivates a passion for learning and creativity in others. His hilarious one-man show includes personal stories to encourage teachers to look beyond their curricula and offer lessons from their own truths. This inspirational conversation encourages audiences to overcome their fears and discover their potential. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Education: The civil rights issue of our time
    From classroom teacher to U.S. secretary of education, Rod Paige has demonstrated his dedication to education. The driving force behind his work as secretary was his strong belief that education is a civil right, just like the right to vote or to be treated equally. In an enlightening conversation moderated by Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune, Paige speaks to a number of topics, most notably the perspective that education is the top civil rights issue of the 21st century. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Keeping the promise of educational technology
    Drawing on their failures and successes as students, teachers, researchers and entrepreneurs, Vivienne Ming and Norma Ming share their vision for keeping the promise of educational technology. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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Featured Sessions 
  • Game dynamics can be a game changer in learning
    Brain science has shown that active learning can achieve, in many instances, more than 10X acceleration in the speed of learning, with better retention, compared with traditional methods. And just as with the best video games, technology now enables educators to personalize instruction to target each learner with exactly what he or she needs to develop skills and achieve mastery. Learn how games and game dynamics can be used by schools and teachers to maximize outcomes. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Great schools: A vision for the future
    Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis rose to national prominence in June 2013 for an eleventh-hour filibuster against legislation that was harmful to women's health. Before that, in 2011, Davis filibustered a budget that cut state education funding by $5.4 billion. On Oct. 3, Davis announced her candidacy for governor of Texas. Join Davis to learn more about her personal educational journey, the challenges facing Texas' growing education system and her vision for the future of Texas education. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • There are no silver bullets in education
    Over her 25 years in education, Wendy Kopp has heard it all: Vouchers are the key to education success! No, no, it's charter schools. Or smaller class sizes. Or a computer for every student. Teach For All's CEO argues that there are no silver bullets to solving educational inequality. If we want a real revolution in education, she said, we need to cultivate a generation of leaders who have firsthand classroom experience and understand how to help our most marginalized children reach their full potential. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Community celebration
    Representatives of the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival kicked off this celebration by highlighting the works of local science fair winners in attendance. Immediately after, SXSWedu featured speaker Jack Andraka addressed the Ed Expo audience, reflecting on his experiences as the winner of the 2013 Intel International Science & Engineering Festival. Concluding the celebration was Austin Superintendent of Schools Meria Carstarphen, who spoke directly to Central Texas students and families. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Analytics and student-success innovations in higher education
    Diverse higher-education institutions -- including community colleges, private four-year colleges and large universities -- are beginning to use advanced analytics to inform and power their student-success innovations. Morehouse College President John Wilson, Civitas Learning co-founder and Chief Learning Officer Mark Milliron, Austin Community College President and CEO Richard Rhodes and University of Texas System Institute for Transformational Learning Chief Innovation Officer Marni Baker explored how exemplar institutions are approaching deeper insights and what's working, what's not and for whom. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Analytical writing: A skill to change the world
    College Board President David Coleman, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro and author Peg Tyre joined forces at SXSWedu 2014 in a featured session to discuss how writing can transform outcomes for students, schools and citizens across the country. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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SXSWedu Resources 
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