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.

See the full speaker list for SXSWedu 2017.

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:

Conceptual finalists:

Experiential finalists:

Physical finalists:

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:

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:

Full schedule for SXSWedu’s 2017 conference.

Elizabeth Hartel

Elizabeth Hartel

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.