A strong undercurrent running through the sessions at the SXSWedu Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas is the idea of educators becoming facilitators in personalized learning environments.

Here are just a few ideas that speakers shared supporting this change in education.

  • Teach students to find the answers. One hundred percent of the questions students ask teachers are Google-able, Alan November, senior partner of November Learning, told attendees during his session. Educators must become learning facilitators, teaching students, among other things, how to create solid queries for online research and use the technology and tools available to them, he said.
  • Ignite a spark. Educators should be “spark igniters,” helping students find what sparks their interest in learning, Asenath Andrews, founder and principal of the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, said during her keynote. Students must be in the center of the learning process, she noted.
  • Put context before content. Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of the Austin Independent School District in Texas, also spoke about personalizing education to students’ interests, predicting that the shift to aligning what we teach to what motivates students could be the next big game changer in education.
  • Let learning be iffy. What if learning were less formal, more iffy? Dale Dougherty, president and CEO of Maker Media, posed this question during his session about the Maker Movement. Learning should be iffy in the sense that students don’t always know the outcome when starting out, he explained, adding that makers need three things: projects, process and practice, and space to create.
  • Bring students in as curriculum designers. Mathtrain.tv provides a free space for students to generate tutorials related to math curricula, November said. He shared the story of one student who chose to create a tutorial in lieu of doing homework even though the project took three hours and homework would have taken only 7 minutes. When November asked her about her motivation for doing the project, she said she wanted to create something that would help her peers.

Join the conversation and tell us in the comments section below about the changes in education you’re learning about at the SXSWedu conference. If you want to contribute a longer piece to the SXSWedu Snapshot, e-mail me the details.

Melissa Greenwood is SmartBrief’s senior education editor, with responsibility for content in a variety of SmartBrief’s education e-newsletters. She also manages content for SmartBlog on Education and related social media channels.

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3 Responses to “#SXSWedu Snapshot: What’s changing in education?”

  1. Melissa Greenwood says:

    Thanks so much for weighing in, Judy. I also was really inspired by the idea of being comfortable with "iffy" learning!

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