SXSWedu: Founder Ron Reed Shares How It All Began, What to Expect Next Week
Next week, the 7th annual SXSWedu Festival will take place in Austin. The four-day event, which is known for its plethora of renowned speakers, innovative programs, and diverse meetups, attracts both education professionals and teachers alike—even some students are on the agenda to attend and speak at this year’s conference. The event is an off-shoot of SXSW, which features programming in the categories of music, film, and interactive.
To get ready for the event, we interviewed Ron Reed, founder of SXSWedu.
Ron Reed has had ties to SXSW since the program’s conception in 1986—he was childhood friends with one of its creators. Ron has always been a part of the edtech scene, and in 2008, he felt especially compelled by the United States’ economic recession to create a public way for educators and innovators alike to come together to create change in education.
Around 25 years after SXSW’s first festival, Ron founded an education component to the annual conference and called it SXSWedu. To this day, he is the executive producer of SXSWedu. We had Hannah Nyren sit down with Ron to discuss the conference’s history, its current initiatives, and its future.
Read on to find out what’s happening at this year’s SXSWedu gathering.
Highlighted speakers at SXSWedu
Some important keynote speakers at this year’s SXSWedu Festival are:
- Christopher Emdin from Columbia University’s Teachers College
- Sara Goldrick-Rab from Temple University
- Tim Ferriss, an entrepreneur, author, and Angel investor
- Brené Brown, the founder and CEO of Brave Leaders Inc
- Sarah Elizabeth Lewis from Harvard University
- Roberto Rivera, the President and Lead Change Agent of Good Life Alliance/7 Mindsets
There are also a number of featured speakers at the conference who range from students and teachers to representatives from companies like Donors Choose and Microsoft.
What’s new at SXSWedu
This year, SXSWedu will introduce a new program to the conference called Learn by Design. The program focuses on the impact learning spaces can have on the effectiveness of lessons and other education experiences. There are three categories in the program: conceptual projects, experiential projects, and physical projects. There are 15 total finalists:
- Citti Academy: Developing Collective Intelligence
- NZE K-12 Prototype
- Schools of the future: AR, Gaming & Sustainability
- Tec21: Inventing the 21st Century Campus
- 49ers Denise DeBartolo York Education Center
- BCPS Mobile Innovation Lab
- Condit Elementary
- The BIG Lab – Build Imagine Grow
- Watt Family Innovation Center – Clemson University
- City Neighbors High School: KNOWN. LOVED. INSPIRED.
- Dwight-Englewood School Hajjar STEM Center
- Hazel Wolf K-8
- Team Based Learning at the Dell Medical School
- University of Utah, Lassonde Studios
Another new event in this year’s SXSWedu conference is the Higher Ed Hub, which is hosted by Ellucian and Pearson. The Hub consists of a series of different talks that all touch upon various aspects of postsecondary education.
Higher Ed Hub talks:
- Ending the Hunger Games of Higher Ed
- Keeping the Promise of Tuition-Free College
- Leverage Mixed Reality to Inspire Brighter Futures
- Strategic Alliance: A Higher Ed Rubik’s Cube
- The Premise and Promise of Hybrid Higher Ed
- The Rise of Smart Data on Campus
The Launch Competition at SXSWedu
SXSWedu will continue its entrepreneur’s pitch program called SXSWedu Launch. There, early-stage companies can get feedback and exposure, seek investments, and make strategic partnerships.
This year’s finalists include:
- Adjunct Professor Link
- ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience
- ASD Reading
- Quizling – the Knowledge Game!
- Sown to Grow
- Teachers Connect
- The Graide Network
- The Whether powered by Better Weekdays
Full schedule for SXSWedu’s 2017 conference.
Elizabeth hails from New Jersey and studies journalism at Emerson College, where she works for two publications: a lifestyle magazine and a music magazine. In addition to education, she also enjoys writing about health and fitness and pop culture.