PanelPicker is the official user-generated session proposal platform for programming at SXSW EDU, March 5-8, 2018.

Go to PanelPicker


Photo by Akash Kataria.

How PanelPicker Works


2019 SXSW PanelPicker Opens June 25

The 2018 SXSW PanelPicker has concluded. Many of the speaking proposals entered via this interface were part of the 2018 event.

We will begin accepting speaking proposals for SXSW 2019 on Monday, June 25, 2018 (and this process will expire on Friday, July 20). Stay tuned to this page for more information.

PanelPicker is a two-step, digital crowd-sourced platform that enables the community to propose ideas for a variety of session formats. The entry process is a month-long submission window, where you can enter your idea for consideration to be presented at SXSW EDU 2018. PanelPicker will then re-open for public voting, allowing the community to review and vote on all ideas entered.

Start Your PanelPicker Application

The final decision is derived from the Advisory Board evaluations (40%), public voting (30%) and staff analysis (30%).

Important Dates

June 26, 2017: PanelPicker Entry Opens

July 23, 2017: PanelPicker Entry Closes

August 1, 2017: Registration Opens

August 7, 2017: PanelPicker Public Voting Begins

August 25, 2017: PanelPicker Public Voting Ends

Select a Format

Need help determining the best format for your PanelPicker idea? Follow this handy flow-chart to discover the best option for your proposal.

(Printable version available in Session Starter Kit PDF at bottom of this page.)

Select a Format

Select a Track


The wide range of topics and ideas on the the program are organized by thematic tracks, designed to help illuminate overarching focus areas and enable attendees to easily navigate the event. As you think about your PanelPicker proposal, you’ll want to select the track that best aligns with the overall focus of your session idea.

  • Arts
  • Business
  • Cognitive Process
  • Continuing Education
  • Data
  • Early Learning
  • Employability
  • Equity
  • Implementation
  • Informal Education
  • Instruction
  • Language Learning
  • Leadership
  • Learning Spaces
  • SEL
  • Special Needs
  • VR/AR

Getting Started on Your Proposal in PanelPicker


Visit and sign in with your universal SXSW account or create one for free with your email address and a password.

Begin your proposal by selecting “+ EDU Proposal” to be considered for SXSW EDU 2018.

The application form is divided into six steps and PanelPicker allows you to save and continue as you go.

Click on question mark icons next to important fields for helpful tips and guidelines. For any additional questions, please reference the FAQ.

Step 1: Organizer

Appoint a primary contact, known as the organizer, for your session to facilitate correspondence throughout the PanelPicker process and beyond, if accepted. The session organizer can also be a proposed speaker, but is not assumed to be participating as a speaker unless indicated.

Step 2: Title & Characteristics

The information required in this step will serve as the framework for your session idea. Your selections will help the community understand and differentiate your proposal among many others.

  • The more direct and explanatory your title, the better (max. 50 characters including spaces).
  • Choose the format that best represents your session structure and presentation style. Reference the corresponding audience seating icons and descriptions to determine which format best suits your intended engagement.
  • Select a track that generally aligns with your idea so that attendees looking for similar content can find your session.
  • Further clarify the focus of your session with tags.
  • Clearly identify your intended audience and background knowledge required to help attendees understand who will bene t most from your session.

Step 3: Description & Learning Objectives

Describe your session (max. 500 characters including spaces) and learning objectives (max. 150 characters each including spaces). Accurately highlight
the main focus of your presentation in a compelling manner and provide three specific learning objectives for your session that highlight audience takeaways.

  • Depth is more important than breadth.
  • The audience at SXSW EDU is well-versed in the current education landscape. Your session description does not need to reference broad statements about the state of education.
  • Please do not include speaker names or organizations in the session description.
  • Use paragraph form for your description (no bullets).
  • Be sure to spell out the first mention of any acronyms you include.
  • Advertorial or brand-centered descriptions are not allowed. If you would like to promote your brand at SXSW EDU, please email

Step 4: Resources

Use a short creative video and/or visual aids to serve as the digital face of your proposal. Provide at least one resource to showcase your programming idea. Videos are highly preferred, especially ones displaying your speaking abilities, regardless of production value.

Step 5: Speakers

Be prepared to enter each proposed speaker’s name, contact information, short bio and diversity contributions. Although most of this information is kept confidential, know that the speaker’s name, title, organization and short bio will be shared with the community.

  • Remember SXSW EDU values diversity in perspective, opinion and representation. For each proposed speaker, you will be asked to address how they contribute to the diversity of the session with a particular focus on the five elements of diversity outlined below.
  • Keep in mind the speaker limits associated with your selected session format. For example, each panel has a limit of four speakers, including the moderator if desired.
  • Moderators should be independent, neutral facilitators in the discussion and count toward your speaker limit.
  • While a particular speaker may be proposed for multiple sessions, in the interest of maximizing diversity, speakers will be limited to participating in a single programmed session.

5 Elements of Speaker Diversity


Speaker diversity weighs heavy in the decision making process. The most interesting sessions are the ones where there are many different perspectives. When choosing speakers keep in mind these basic diversity principles.


If three or more speakers are proposed, please ensure gender diversity. In other words, a panel of three or four speakers cannot be comprised of a single gender.


There are scores of very qualified education experts across the U.S. and around the world. Be thoughtful of how the voices participating contribute to the geographic representation.


If all the speakers on your panel proposal have the same opinion on the given topic, then the conversation will likely be uninteresting. Whatever your topic is, you are encouraged to include at least one person whose opinion differs sharply.


The session selection process is very competitive so having a variety of new and interesting speakers is essential to making your session stand out.


Different ethnic backgrounds and cultures take unique approaches to different topics. And, unique is usually a good thing at SXSW EDU.


Step 6: Review & Submit

Proofread and double-check that your proposal is complete. Once submitted, you will be unable to make any edits. Your proposal is not complete until you click “Enter Proposal.”

Helpful Resources

Download PDF’s of the SXSW EDU 2018 Session Starter Kit as well as the actual PanelPicker application for easy reference at home.

Download PDF of Session Starter Kit

Download PDF of PanelPicker Application

Get More Involved

Attend a Community Meet Up

RSVP to attend a free Community Meet Up (scheduled in D.C., Seattle, NY, Chicago and ATX) to meet with SXSW EDU staff for PanelPicker tips and advice.

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Apply to Participate

Explore the many opportunities to participate at SXSW EDU 2018 including Launch, Learn by Design, the Innovation Hub, Film and the Playground.

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