My Top 5 Takeaways from SXSWedu in Austin, Texas

The SXSWedu Conference is not your typical massive EdTech event. While it celebrates innovations in learning, there is no massive exhibit floor which helps nurture more collaboration between education and industry leaders from across the globe. It was more about the passionate education leaders connecting and forging communities of practice envisioning futures trends to make the most of tech infused pedagogy. One of the definite highlights for me was connecting with Guy Kawasaki, former Apple chief evangelist and award winning author for a podcast interview. Below are my top 5 takeaways.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of social learning! Much of the learning and collaboration I experienced and observed occurred with delegates gathering outside the formal sessions, during the socials, in the hallways, and lobby of the host hotel across the street from the convention centre. My personal network expanding by about 100 leaders over my three day learning journey.
  2. The notion of ‘MindSharing’ was born and inspired by my time at SXSWedu. I define mindsharing as the process where two or more people share their knowledge through informal learning and social learning settings. We created a new verb!
  3. It’s no accident that Austin is the host city of SXSWedu as well as the music festival. Thriving SMART cities nurture innovation and creativity! ‘Keep Austin – Weird’, is the cities tagline. It’s a cool city — great restaurants, music scene, strong business base, lots of start-ups and a solid university base. Worth a visit!
  4. Get over the stigma. Education industry leaders are passionate and loyal. I’ve been immersed in the EdTech space for 15+ years. My PLN has been very consistent with many of my peers in attendance at SXSXwedu. Some have left and the majority return to the sector because they care about making a difference for kids.
  5. Start-ups are hot! As Guy Kawasaki commented during my interview, it’s never been easier with all the free and low cost tools to launch a start-up. Hence, it was great to see a number of leading Canadian EdTech start-ups present such as, Learning Bird and Agora Mobile; not to forget our partners from MaRSDD, who are nurturing much of the innovation around the burgeoning EdTech start-up space in Canada.

I highly recommend you attend SXSWedu if you’ve never been. It’s worth experiencing a city that prides itself on staying Weird!

Robert Martellacci, M.A. EdTech
Publisher & Managing Editor, The MindShare Learning Report™

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