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South by Southwest Edu
art by open educator Alan Levine

South by Southwest Edu, this March 3-6 in Austin TX, has grown into a several-thousand-person big-tent conference about all things innovative in education: not just technology and entrepreneurship but new approaches to issues like inequality and social and emotional learning. “The same way seismic shifts in the music, film and technology industries fueled the growth of SXSW, the convergence of technology and innovation has set the stage for tremendous disruptions in the field of education,” Ron Reed, the director of the festival, told us recently. So it’s a natural place for Digital/Edu and the rest of the Hechinger Report to be.

After attending SXSW Interactive, Music, and/or Edu for five of the last six years, here are my top tips:

*The chance hallway encounters, meetups and party conversations tend to be far more valuable than *most* sessions (not ours of course). So leave room in your schedule for serendipity!

*Twitter is the best way to follow all the discussions and figure out where to go next. This year most sessions have their own #hashtags.

*Carry a water bottle, phone charger and energy bar, and wear comfortable shoes.

*Try to sit down for at least one great Austin meal. Here’s a bunch of recommendations. Or just go to Stubb’s. (I’m a vegetarian so I like to go to Jo’s for brunch instead).

You can meet some members of the Hechinger Report team at the following sessions:

Tuesday, March 4, 12pm: Can the Liberal Arts Survive in an Age of Innovation? with Hechinger Editor in Chief Liz Willen, Scott Kinney, president of Capella University, and more.

Tuesday, March 4, 3pm: LAUNCHedu: Educator Insights (educator feedback on the LAUNCHedu startup competition) with me, Anya Kamenetz, Digital/Edu writer, top tech-teacher Jennie Magiera, and more.

Wednesday, March 5, 9am: How Media Shapes Our Perception of Technology with me, Betsy Corcoran from Edsurge and Paul Fain from Inside Higher Ed.

Wednesday, March 5, 12pm: Building a Better Teacher, with Jackie Mader, Hechinger Staff Writer, Kate Walsh of the National Council on Teacher Quality, and more.

Thursday, March 6, 9am: Hardwiring the Brain: Better, Faster, Stronger, with me and a bunch of brainiacs including Jan Plass, NYU professor of Digital Media & Learning Sciences and co-director of the Games for Learning Institute.

In addition to the above sessions, here’s some more we really want to get to. Leave your top picks in the comments!

Monday, March 3, 3pm: Reclaiming the Promise Through Community Schools, a plenary discussion on the model of schools with wraparound services, moderated by AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Monday, March 3, 7pm at the Alamo Drafthouse: Ivory Tower, a screening of a new documentary on the future of higher education.

Tuesday, March 4, 10:30am: Data Privacy: What Parents DON’T Know Can Hurt You — an overview of a hot issue in the news, featuring Cameron Evans, Microsoft CTO.

Tuesday, March 4, 12pm: Inspiring Advocacy through News and Digital Media with folks from Do Something, Channel One, and NBC learn.

Wednesday, March 5, 12pm: Wendy Kopp: There Are No Silver Bullets in Education –-Teach For All’s CEO, an increasingly controversial figure (aren’t they all?) argues there are no silver bullets to solving educational inequality (well, who told us there were?).

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