Featured Sessions

Featured speakers contribute mightily to thought leadership at SXSWedu. Broadly aligned with trending topics and themes, these celebrated voices promise engaging insights and perspectives.

Monday, March 3

Diane Ravitch

Reign of Error: The Danger of Privatizing Schools

Diane Ravitch
Research Professor of Education, New York University

Diane Ravitch shines light on the dangers of the privatization of America’s public schools and its negative impact on future generations. This talk is designed for citizens who see long term potential in the youth of America and don’t want it inhibited due to others seeking short term profit. Ravitch reveals what can be done to preserve public school education, making clear what is right with our education system and how policy makers are failing to address root causes of educational failure.


Analytics and Student Success Panel

Analytics and Student Success Innovations in Higher Education

John Wilson (President, Morehouse College)
Mark Milliron (Co-founder & Chief Learning Officer, Civitas Learning Inc)
Marie Cini (Provost, University of Maryland University College)
Richard Rhodes (President & CEO, Austin Community College)

Diverse higher education institutions—from community colleges to private four-year colleges to large universities—are beginning to use advanced analytics to inform and power their student-success innovations. Come join this interactive dialogue to learn more about how exemplar institutions are approaching gaining deeper insights about what’s working, what’s not, and for whom; and deploying analytically fueled apps to the front lines to help more striving students learn well and finish strong.


Nolan Bushnell

Game Dynamics Can Be a Game Changer in Learning

Nolan Bushnell
CEO, BrainRush

Brain science has shown that active learning can achieve, in many instances, over 10X acceleration in the speed of learning, with better retention, compared to traditional methods. And just as with the best video games, technology now enables educators to personalize instruction to target each learner with exactly what he/she needs to develop skills and achieve mastery. Learn how games and game dynamics can be used by schools and teachers to maximize outcomes.


Tuesday, March 4

Jeffrey Charbonneau

Welcome to Another Day in Paradise

Jeff Charbonneau
2013 National Teacher of the Year, Zillah High School

Jeff Charbonneau believes that paradise must be built, maintained and improved by removing the words 'can't,' 'too hard' and 'impossible' from our vocabulary. He understands that many students feel the “hard” sciences are too difficult and it's his job to support their learning by breaking down the content and creating interactive learning experiences. Learn what makes Jeff the teacher he has become and how to create conditions that enable teachers like Jeff to grow and develop in every school.


Francisco Cigarroa

Why Higher Ed is Big and Bold in Texas

Francisco Cigarroa
Chancellor, The University of Texas System

The charter to establish “a university of the first class” hasn't changed for the UT System since its creation in 1876, though the landscape of Higher Ed and what defines that certainly has. The UT System continues to set the standard for access and success for over 213,000 students attending 15 UT institutions. Today's bold and innovative vision includes plans to establish two medical schools, transform education and health care in the Rio Grande Valley and lead the nation in online learning.


Social Emotional Learning Panel

Social Emotional Learning Can Change the World

Rosalind Wiseman (Author)
Meria Carstarphen (Superintendent, Austin Independent School District)
Timothy Shriver (Chairman of the Board, Special Olympics)
David Yeager (Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin)

Teaching students to manage urges helps them to behave in socially acceptable and productive ways. Join us as the nations’ leaders in the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) movement discuss how schools across the country are preparing students to thrive in their future education, careers and adult lives through the implementation of SEL programs. Panelists will also examine how SEL increases student engagement, decreases discipline referrals and increases academic performance.


Alberto Carvalho

Convergence: Creating a New Culture of Learning

Alberto Carvalho
Superintendent, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is in the midst of a complete digital convergence. Through a system-wide confluence of digital resources and emergent technologies; blended learning and professional development; and deployment of digital content and mobile devices, this large urban district is knocking down the classroom walls and creating a new culture of learning. Learn how Miami-Dade is employing the concept of convergence to increase student achievement and implement true systemic reform.


Paula A. Kerger

Beyond Tech: The Next Education Frontier

Paula A. Kerger
President and CEO, Public Broadcasting Service

For over four decades, PBS has been a leader in creating innovative tools and resources to help students and teachers “Be More.” Building on this long history of innovation, PBS has turned its sights to the next frontier of education reform: our communities. PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger will share how PBS is using new technologies in service of larger goals, to leverage the power of community involvement in our classrooms and beyond.


David Coleman, Robert Caro

Wednesday, March 5

Analytical Writing: A Skill to Change the World

David Coleman (President & CEO, The College Board)
Robert Caro (Author)

What makes great analytical writing—the ability to explain, argue, provoke—so powerful? And can a generation of American students become expert in this mighty art that most predicts success in college and careers? Come join College Board President David Coleman and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro for a discussion of how writing can transform outcomes for students, schools and citizens across the country


The Virtual Human Right

Jack Andraka
Student Scientist

The access to scientific information is a necessity for progress in our society. However over 90% of all scientific journals are locked tightly behind paywalls. In this talk young cancer researcher Jack Andraka tells his story of finding a new way to detect pancreatic cancer and his current fight for open access scientific publishing and internet access: the virtual human right.


Wendy Kopp

What It Really Takes To Improve Education

Wendy Kopp
CEO & Co-founder, Teach For All
Founder & Chair, Teach For America

Over her 25 years in education, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp has heard it all: vouchers are the key to education success! No, no, it’s charter schools. Or smaller class size. Or a computer for every kid. In this presentation the Teach For All CEO argues there are no silver bullets or shortcuts to solving the entrenched problem of educational inequality, a problem that’s pervasive around the globe. If we want a real revolution in education, we need to cultivate a generation of leaders who have first-hand classroom experience and understand how to help our most marginalized children reach their full potential.


James Bernard, Jeff Johnson, Geneviève DeBose and Mauro Diaz

Inspire, Lead, Innovate, Make More, TEACH

James Bernard (Global Director, Strategic Partnerships, Education Programs, Microsoft)
Jeff Johnson (Journalist, BET)
Geneviève DeBose (Director, Educator Engagement, National Board)
Mauro Diaz (Teacher Ambassador Fellow, US Department of Education)

Exceptional people gravitate toward big challenges and there are few challenges greater than reinventing American education. Join Teach.org in a panel discussion on the current state of education and recruiting the next generation of teachers. Learn how to help prospective teachers transition into the teaching profession and ways to help spread the importance of teaching. Teaching demands exceptional talent. Are you up for the challenge? Make more.


Wendy Davis

Great Schools: A Vision for the Future

Wendy Davis
Texas State Senator


Texas state Senator Wendy Davis rose to national prominence in June 2013 for an 11-hour filibuster against legislation that is harmful to women’s health. Before that, in 2011, Senator Davis filibustered a budget that cut state education funding by $5.4 billion. On October 3, 2013, Senator Davis announced her candidacy for governor of Texas. Join Senator Wendy Davis to learn more about her personal educational journey, the challenges facing Texas's growing education system and her vision for the future of Texas education.


Thursday, March 6

Jessica Rosenworcel

E-Rate 2.0: Rebooting Support for Educational Technology in America

Jessica Rosenworcel
Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission runs the nation’s largest educational technology program, known as E-Rate. Funded at $2.4 billion in 2013, the E-Rate program connects schools and libraries across the nation to modern communications and the Internet. A strong supporter of E-Rate, Commissioner Rosenworcel will discuss the program and how it should be refocused on broadband and modernized.


Optimizing Learning: A Preview of the Aspen Task

Optimizing Learning: A Preview of the Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet Report

Anil Dash (Co-Founder, Activate)
John Bailey (Exec Dir, Digital Learning Now)
Rosario Dawson (Chairwoman, Voto Latino)
Charlie Firestone (Exec Dir, Communications & Society Program, The Aspen Institute)

The internet presents unique and unconventional learning opportunities to empower and engage youth in new ways, but also raises concerns about their safety and privacy. Over the last 12 months, the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the internet convened 20 of the sharpest minds in the industry to explore these issues and craft recommendations to optimize online learning and innovation without compromising safety. The Task Force will preview their report highlighting these issues.