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What are this year’s top trends at SXSW EDU?

Check out these SXSW EDU sessions and see how your colleagues foster innovation in learning

Connecting leaders across the learning lifecycle and around the world, SXSW EDU serves as a melting pot for the latest approaches to education. From more than 1,500 proposals received in PanelPicker to applicants for our startup and design competitions, we review a diverse array of content aligned to some of the biggest trends today. What follows is a curated list of the top 10 trends impacting teaching and learning as exhibited in the programming at SXSW EDU 2019. At a high level, this year’s trends represent a human-centered approach to empowering both the educator and student to define their own learning pathway.

AI, XR, & Blockchain: A New Era in EdTech
The advancement of emerging technology is laying the foundation for a new age of learning. With virtual worlds being built to extend the classroom and embedded AI to better track student development, experiential technology provides a new level of immersion. Though still in the early days of direct application in education, blockchain promises to establish a new digital infrastructure to authenticate knowledge acquisition and track a lifetime of learner competencies. Collectively these new applications of tech are shifting its role in the classroom.

Related sessions:
AI Enabling Personalized Learning at Scale
Blockchain: Hype or Enabler for K-12 Data Privacy
Education Meets Blockchain and the Sharing Economy

Culturally Responsive Curriculum
The most effective educators have the ability to build inclusive learning environments that act as safe spaces for students, from all backgrounds, to learn and develop. Culturally relevant pedagogy is grounded in a mindset that empowers both educators and learners to navigate the uncomfortable, foster confidence, and develop deeper thinking through open and authentic interactions.

Related sessions:
Belonging, Culture, & School: Student Perspectives
Culturally Responsive Educators
Race, Social Media & the Role of Schools

Future of Assessment & Accountability
From Common Core to the SAT, the call for accountability is moving away from the drivers of the past two decades as we look to reflect the more holistic attributes of student development and grapple with the adverse impact of high-stakes testing. With data collection on the rise and the push for interoperability to better align reporting, there is an opportunity to capture competency through new and unique methods.

Related sessions:
Analyze Act Reflect: A Refreshed Approach to Data
Beyond Rubrics: Embedded Assessment in Making
Playful Assessment: Don’t Stop the Fun

Inclusive Practice & Universal Design
Intentional and accessible practices that are designed for individual learners are being widely adopted by schools and educators. While inclusive learning practices have been present for some time, the educational framework and learning science research behind them continues to advance our progress towards effectively supporting students with a wide range of backgrounds and needs.

Related sessions:
Inclusive Coding for Kids With Special Needs
Moving the Needle on K-12 Accessibility
UDL: Designing for Learner Variability

Learning Science in Action
Translating research into actionable, evidence-based practice is essential as educators and institutions implement new learning models. Just as the drive for efficacy research has illuminated the power and pitfalls of technology, so too has learning science research supported best practices for learning. The applications of new research from fields like neuroscience and psychology, paired with the growth of learning analytics, provides a new opportunity to create better-aligned learning pathways for students.

Related sessions:
Active Learning for Engagement and Effectiveness
Learning Sciences and Edtech: Uncovering the Facts
Leveraging Technology to Make Expert Teachers

Mental Health & Well-being
As students interact with the increasingly complex world around them, there is a growing need for education communities to be responsive to the mental well-being of their learners. Both in-school and out-of-school factors impact student performance, and there’s a growing movement for institutions to play an important role in addressing them. Self-reflection and processing trauma are now key skills required to demonstrate resilience in work.

Related sessions:
Arrested Development: Children, Trauma, & School
Be Your Own Answer: Self Care for Teachers
Empowering English Learners in Challenging Times

School Safety
Increased threats to safety and security on school and college campuses have prompted an immediate and extensive reaction across the country as students, parents, educators, and lawmakers seek to understand the dangers facing learners. Efforts to ensure and maintain a safe educational environment extend to building an inclusive campus culture where students feel comfortable learning, free from bullying, harm, or violence.

Related sessions:
How Anonymous Reporting Prevents School Violence
School Safety: Get Real
Students’ Safety or Privacy? Why Not Both?

Students as Agents of Change
Around the country and across the globe we are seeing an unprecedented groundswell of students speaking out with the fundamental belief that young people have the power to drive real and meaningful change. From curriculum co-creation to community activism and student-led demonstrations, today’s learners are taking action.

Related sessions:
Classrooms & Beyond: Empowering Student Voices
Helping Student Activists Succeed
Hungry for Connection: No One Eats Alone

[Editor’s note: A longer version of this article appears on the SXSW EDU blog.]

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