History of SXSW EDU

SXSW EDU emerged in 2011 and has since evolved into a leading platform for the future of learning, focusing on the exploration of innovative ideas, advancements, and dialogue surrounding education and learning.

SXSW EDU 2013 - Photo by Amy E. Price


For more than 10 years, SXSW EDU has been evolving alongside the education sector and growing its relevancy in the hearts and minds of parents, educators, policymakers and more. The organization was founded on the belief that education has the power to inspire, elevate, and change the future. By building on the same values of its parent organization, South by Southwest®, SXSW EDU has brought together the learner, the practitioner, the entrepreneur, and the visionary to share their groundbreaking stories, tackle complex issues, and build reimagined paths forward.

Over its history, SXSW EDU has created a place for our community to explore, connect, and dream. From its inaugural event in March 2011 in collaboration with the Texas Education Agency in support of Project Share, a statewide learning environment, to its expansion into one of the most relevant learning festivals in the world, SXSW EDU has always been forward-looking in nature and community built.

In 2012, the national education dialogue shifted to a focused effort on digital learning and edtech became a more common term and burgeoning industry. Given its alignment to innovation, SXSW EDU saw an increase in attendees, with numbers reaching more than 2,000 and representation from across the country. The organization also saw an opportunity to showcase the amazing technology that was being created to support education and launched the inaugural SXSW EDU Launch program (formerly LAUNCHedu), an education entrepreneurs’ competition to provide a vibrant forum for early-stage startups.

Since then, SXSW EDU has continued to expand its audience, topic areas, and programming content, evolving into the moniker of SXSW EDU Conference & Festival. With its expanded program, which included the SXSW EDU Film program, performances, and networking, SXSW EDU has furthered its reach to be inclusive of attendees from all over the world and all parts of the education sector. In addition to expanding its perspectives, SXSW EDU has also created more opportunities to learn reflective of what is happening inside the classroom - for example, hands-on learning, mentor programs, case studies, and student voice. SXSW EDU continues to bring diverse voices together to underscore the importance of education as the heart of our society.

With critical social justice issues impacting our nation and the pandemic stopping the country and world in its tracks, SXSW EDU created an interactive virtual platform for 2021 that brought in new attendees from around the globe.

SXSW EDU has grown from a regional event into one of the largest and most relevant learning festivals in the world. The organization continues to support the community’s desire to connect, collaborate, and impact the future of education. It is this unfettered, inspired and passionate community that will collectively create a new tomorrow for learners everywhere and drive impact.

Unexpected discoveries and meaningful connections await at the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival from March 4-7, 2024 in Austin, Texas!




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