South by Southwest Education: The 17 Panels and Sessions to See at SXSW 2017

South by Southwest returns next week to Austin, Texas, and again the festivities kick off with a focus on education. Running March 6–9, the SXSWedu Conference & Festival will feature hundreds of panels and discussions on education policy, priorities, and technology — a marathon of school innovation with a student-first spin.
The sheer volume and breadth of the SXSWedu schedule can be overwhelming; last year’s event featured more than 1,000 speakers. But don’t worry — we’ve studied the schedule and done a first pass, highlighting some of the most interesting panelists and intriguing concepts.
At the top of our 2017 guide, an event featuring frequent 74 contributor Richard Whitmire:
K-12 Ed Reform in the Post-Obama World (see event page)
Tuesday, March 7, 3:30–4:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
Education reformers were pretty sure what reform meant during the eight years of the Obama administration, but with a new president comes uncertainty. No one knows what he will bring to the pace, guidelines, or definitions of K-12 education reform. This panel will examine the possibilities and probabilities of reform post-Obama. (With: Eva Moskowitz, Success Academy Charter Schools; John Katzman, Noodle; Nina Rees, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Richard Whitmire, 74 contributor and author of The Founders)
(More at The 74: Read The Founders and search the charter school oral history)  
Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of 16 other sessions to see:
Monday, March 6
We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service (see event page)
9:30–10:30 a.m., Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
A look at new ways of improving schools and schooling, drawing on themes from Christopher Emdin’s New York Times–best-selling books and the latest rap album from A Tribe Called Quest. Emdin offers insight into the structures of contemporary schools and highlights such major issues as the absence of diversity among teachers, ways educators of color are silenced in schools, and the absence of student voice in designing teaching and learning. (With: Christopher Emdin, Teachers College, Columbia University)
(More at The 74: Professor Emdin Talks ‘White Teachers in the Hood’)
Why is K-12 Education So Slow to Change? (see event page)
12:30–1:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon G
New innovations constantly reshape nearly every aspect of our lives. Higher education has proven open to these ever-evolving digital instruction models, so why has K-12 education remained rooted in the past? This panel discusses how to ignite change in schools and communities to transform instruction and learning. (With: Alberto Carvalho, Miami–Dade County Public Schools; Catlin Tucker, Teacher International Trainer; Keith Krueger, Consortium for School Networking; Peter Cohen, McGraw-Hill Education)
(More at The 74: How Superintendent Carvalho Rescued America’s Fourth-Largest District)
Don’t Tip Too Much! (Or, Should You?) (see event page)
2–3 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon D
Should school districts “tip” more toward all traditional public schools or all public charter schools? Is school choice really beneficial to students? Panelists will share their thoughts on what an ideal school system looks like. (With: Joe Siedlecki, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; Mashea Ashton, Newark Charter School Fund; Scott Pearson, DC Public Charter School Board)
Good, Bad & Ugly: Blended Learning Effectiveness (see event page)
2-3 p.m., Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Are blended and personalized learning effective? Can we measure that effectiveness? A spirited debate about what we know, and what we can’t know, about these hot topics in education. (With: Julia Freeland Fisher, Christensen Institute; Lisa Hansel, Knowledge Matters)
Tuesday, March 7
Computer Science Standards: Best Practices (see event page)
11 a.m.–noon, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
Like math or English, computer science is a critical skill for career readiness. But most states don’t have computer science learning standards, and only 25% of schools teach computer science at all. This panel will highlight why computer science standards are important and how to get them passed in your state. (With: Anthony Owen, Arkansas Department of Education; Heather Lageman, Baltimore County Public Schools; Kevin Nolten, National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center; Pat Yongpradit, Code.org)
(More at The 74: We Must Unite to Close the STEM Gender Gap)
Elevating Educator Prep With Micro-Credentials (see event page)
11 a.m.–noon, JW Marriott, Salon E
An interactive conversation on emerging micro-credentials and incentives for young educators who are taking their first steps on the path to great teaching. As communities struggle to recruit and retain teachers, learn how Educators Rising and Digital Promise are reinventing “grow your own” programs with a competency-based focus. (With: Cassey Hall, Dan Brown, and Deidra Gammill, Educators Rising; Odelia Younge, Digital Promise)
Do School Boards Work?: Improving Student Outcomes (see event page)
12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
Do your district’s school board meetings concentrate on adults’ issues — frustrated parents, upset vendors, debates about managerial decisions — rather than on student outcomes? Panelists will discuss how to make students the focus of school board attention. There is another way! (With: AJ Crabill, Texas Education Agency; Dori Fenenbock, El Paso Independent School District; Kendall Pace, Austin Independent School District; Richard Carranza, Houston Independent School District)
Teach Us All (see event page)
1:30–3:30 p.m., Austin Convention Center, Room 19AB
Sixty years after the Little Rock Nine faced violent resistance desegregating Central High, the documentary film Teach Us All applies important lessons from history to emphasize the continuing need to rectify the staggering disparities that divide America’s children. (With: Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters; Eric Wilson, Noble Impact; Sarah Camiscoli, IntegrateNYC4me; Sonia Lowman, Teach Us All)
Ready Player One? How VR Will Transform the Class (see event page)
5–6 p.m., JW Marriott, Salon B
An expert panel will discuss how innovative educators use technology to transform the classroom experience and engage students. Explore the potential of virtual and augmented reality — and receive tips on how to start your own journey. (With: Benjamin Lloyd, Highland Park Middle School; Heidi Bernasconi, Clarkstown North; Kerry Gallagher, St. John’s Preparatory School; Lyman Missimer, Google)
(More at The 74: DC Charter Wins $10 Million to Invent With Virtual Reality)
What ESSA Means to You (see event page)
5–6 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
The Every Student Succeeds Act gave states new autonomy — and resources — to support children with brain-based learning and attention issues. By allocating additional funds for early learning and literacy, the act creates new paths for districts to implement UDL and personalized learning. Learn from policy experts and practitioners what the law means for educators and how to advocate for your students and school. (With: Kevin Hager, Understood; Kirk Behnke, CAST; Lindsay Jones, National Center for Learning Disabilities; Margaret McLeod, National Council of La Raza)
Wednesday, March 8
The Secrets of Accelerated Learning & Mastery (see event page)
9:30–10:30 a.m., Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
In this keynote address, moderated by Charles Best, Tim Ferriss — author of Tools of Titans and The 4-Hour Workweek — will deconstruct accelerated learning by sharing frameworks and techniques that help take learning and teaching to another level. (With: Charles Best, DonorsChoose.org; Tim Ferriss, author)
Challenges & Solutions for Refugee Students (see event page)
11 a.m.–2 p.m., JW Marriott, Salon F
Half of the world’s 21.3 million refugees are under 18 years old. Each year, thousands of these kids enroll in American schools with a highly disrupted education history, often never having before set foot in a classroom. This session will take a closer look at the unique challenges facing refugee students — with particular attention paid to gender inequality — and explore innovative solutions. (With: Blair Brettschneider and Emily Kane, GirlForward)
Equity for All Children: 4 Funders, 4 Approaches (see event page)
3:30–4:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
The Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation are all committed to equity in education, especially for the nation’s underserved communities and marginalized student populations. Foundation leaders will discuss how their work affects the structure and struggle in America’s education system as they move toward an inclusive, equitable future for all students. (With: Carla Thompson Payton, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Don Shalvey, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Hilary Pennington, The Ford Foundation; Kyle Peterson, Walton Family Foundation)
Next-Gen Schools Share the Future of Data (see event page)
5–6 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon D
Data surrounds us. The growth of personalized learning and the availability of granular data at a student level give districts an environment rich with insights. Unfortunately, technological and bureaucratic hurdles often put these beyond reach. Learn from innovators how they built tools and created best practices for getting data in and out of programs. (With: Cody Grindle, IDEA Public Schools; Erin Mote, InnovateEDU; Ian Connell, Charter School Growth Fund; Jin-Soo Huh, Alpha Public Schools)
(More at The 74: Rhode Island’s Big Bet on Personalized Learning)
Thursday, March 9
Personalized Learning & the Tech to Make It Happen (see event page)
9:30–10:30 a.m., Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Personalized learning provides meaningful and contextualized instruction for every student, and the growth of technology makes this possible in today’s classroom. But its success requires a thoughtful, strategic approach. This panel will offer real-world insights on the way technology in today’s classrooms makes personalized learning a reality. (With: Chris Liang-Vergara, Leap Innovations; Eileen Rudden, LearnLaunch; Mary Jo Madda, EdSurge; Muhammed Chaudhry, Silicon Valley Education Foundation)
Building a Pipeline for Minority Students in STEM (see event page)
9:30–10:30 a.m., JW Marriott, Salon C
How do we change one of the least diverse fields in the workforce? By building an educational pipeline for minority students in STEM, starting with a K-12 system that emphasizes STEM education and builds strategic partnerships with universities and corporations. This session will focus on ways to create such an inclusive pipeline to help companies meet their growing need for talent. (With: Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Shaw University)

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