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March 27, 2013
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Special Report: SXSWedu Conference & Festival 2013
SXSWedu Conference & Festival Executive Producer Ron Reed said he hoped this year's sessions moved educators from inspiration to implementation and from talking to doing.

More than 5,000 educators, innovators and other stakeholders attended the conference held in Austin, Texas, from March 4 to 7. This special conference report recaps top news coverage of the event.

We highlight Bill Gates' message of connected education and take a look at two educational models -- inquiry-based learning and inclusive competitiveness -- that caught reporters' attention.

We also shine a light on some of the educational-technology tools, such as Lego Education's StoryStarter, that are being used to enhance education.

Couldn't attend this year? We've included a SXSWedu Resources section, so you can access online content from the conference.

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.
Strategies and Practices 
  • Digital communities help teachers help one another, Gates says
    Bill Gates used his keynote address at the SXSWedu Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas, to champion the use of social media and other technology to connect educators and allow them to learn from one another, SmartBrief's senior education editor writes in this blog post. "The fact that these platforms let you categorize and talk about what your challenges are and sort of reach out to experts anywhere in the country who will be able to give you examples of what works with that type of student, it's really breaking down that isolation in a really strong way," Gates said. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How to engage students in inquiry learning
    Students can discover their own paths to learning -- a process known as inquiry learning, writes former history teacher Diana Laufenberg. Among her eight suggestions for accomplishing this process is for teachers to be flexible, encourage curiosity among students, set ways for students to participate in class and teach students, not subjects. Laufenberg, speaking at the recent SXSWedu Conference & Festival in Texas, also recommended providing opportunities for experiential learning and embracing failure as part of the process. blog (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • SXSWedu debuts "inclusive competitiveness" model
    In this blog post, Mike Green, a journalist and public speaker, writes about the promise of "inclusive competitiveness," which debuted at the recent SXSWedu conference. The model, he writes, "measures the economic performance of diverse populations in innovation ecosystems and clusters, emerging technology sectors and other areas critical to U.S. economic competitiveness." Among other things, Green sees "inclusive competitiveness" as a way to improve achievement among black male students. The Huffington Post/The Blog (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Is the role of the teacher changing?
    At the recent SXSWedu Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas, the changing role of teachers as facilitators of classroom learning was a primary focus, SmartBrief's senior education editor writes in this blog post. Among the suggestions offered by speakers were to teach students to use technology to find answers on their own, put context before content and approach learning in a less formal way. Other ideas included educators acting as "spark igniters," who help students discover what drives their own passion for learning, and allowing students to help craft curriculum. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Tools and Content 
  • Students can go to Washington -- in a 3D game
    A new 3D multiplayer game, "Government in Action," is intended to help students who take American government courses to experience life as a U.S. representative. The game, launched by McGraw-Hill Education, was developed in collaboration with Muzzy Lane Software and Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass. "The ability to interact rather than just reading a text in this technology-driven age will probably drive more interest," Tierney said. CNN (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How Legos are helping students communicate
    Elementary-school teacher Marisa Kaplan was surprised to learn that building blocks can be used to teach young students about story sequencing and writing. In this article, she reviews StoryStarter from Lego Education, noting "the innovation here is in making literacy and storytelling concrete, and incorporating the element of choice for students." Kaplan is using the tool in her classroom and writes that it has potential for students with disabilities and English-language learners. EdSurge (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Innovations from SXSWedu
    From mobile applications to tablets, education advocate, adviser and author Tom Vander Ark lists in this blog post some of the tools and content solutions he found interesting at the SXSWedu Conference & Festival. In the tablet world, he highlights Amplify's tablet bundle as a tool that can be used in the shift from purchasing tablets to purchasing solutions. Vander Ark also shines a light on "innovation clusters," which bring together various stakeholders who want to avoid the purchase of "tech for tech's sake." Education Week/Vander Ark on Innovation (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Are MOOCs an equalizer of educational opportunity?
    Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng and edX President Anant Agarwal got together to deliver a keynote at the SXSWedu Conference & Festival, during which a moderator asked them about the future of massive open online courses. Ng was applauded for his declaration that MOOCs will help bridge the educational divide, both nationally and globally. Agarwal conceded that there has been too much hype around MOOCs, noting that if we're going to overhype something, why not education -- why not make the teacher a rock star? InformationWeek (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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SXSWedu Resources 
  • Listen to podcasts from SXSWedu
    You can listen to podcasts of SXSWedu 2013 sessions right now on the SXSWedu Audio page. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Couldn't make it to SXSWedu this year?
    Watch the 2013 Keynote and Distinguished Speaker presentations online. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Make plans to attend SXSWedu next year
    Read through this year's conference magazine and make plans to attend SXSWedu 2014, March 3 to 6 in Austin, Texas! LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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