PanelPicker® is a digital, crowd-sourced platform that enables the community to propose session ideas for the SXSW EDU program.

The Rather Prize – SXSW EDU 2022 – Photo by Akash Kataria

The Rather Prize – SXSW EDU 2022 – Photo by Akash Kataria

How PanelPicker Works


PanelPicker® is a digital, crowd-sourced platform that enables the community to propose programming ideas for SXSW EDU, March 6-9, 2023.

Proposals for SXSW EDU 2023 are entered during the submission window. Then PanelPicker re-opens for public voting, allowing the public to review, vote on, and provide feedback for all ideas entered.

Final PanelPicker Proposal Grade

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

Important Dates

Tuesday, June 28 - PanelPicker Opens
Sunday, July 24 - PanelPicker Closes
Tuesday, August 9 – PanelPicker Community Voting Opens
Sunday, August 21 – PanelPicker Community Voting Closes

PanelPicker Step-by-Step


The application form is divided into six steps and PanelPicker allows you to save and continue as you go. Click on the More Info buttons throughout the application for helpful tips and guidelines.

Step 1: Session Organizer

Appoint a primary contact for your session, known as the organizer, to facilitate correspondence throughout the PanelPicker process and beyond, if accepted. The session organizer can also be a proposed speaker, but they are not assumed to be participating as a speaker unless indicated. Remember that the session organizer serves as the main point of contact for the session, and is responsible for communicating information to the speakers and ensuring the success of the session.

Step 2: Title & Characteristics

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

  • Try to keep your title as concise and explanatory as possible. Make sure your proposal is easily accessible to the community with a great title that clearly speaks to the audience you are trying to reach. (max. 50 characters including spaces)
  • Choose the format that best fits your session structure and presentation style. Reflect on the goals of your session idea — are you looking to engage in a thought-provoking discussion, lead a learning activity, or convene a specific community? Reference the corresponding options to determine which format best suits your idea.
  • Designate a session focus area to set the level of education your session content will be addressing. The SXSW EDU program covers the entire learning lifecycle, and this allows your session to better shine in the community.
  • Select a thematic track that generally aligns with your idea so that attendees looking for similar content can find your session. Your idea may fit under multiple track options, so focus on the track that best represents your session content and goals.
  • Further clarify the focus of your idea by selecting two tags from the dropdown menus that will help the community search for your session and home in on the specifics of your content.
  • Clearly identify the intended audience for your session, as well as the background knowledge required to help attendees understand who will benefit most from your session and further refine your session goals.

Step 3: Description & Objectives

Describe your session content (max. 500 characters including spaces) and learning objectives (max. 150 characters each including spaces). Accurately define the comprehensive focus of your idea in a compelling manner and provide three specific learning objectives for your session that highlight concrete audience takeaways. Please keep in mind the following tips:

  • Depth is more important than breadth in making your idea an impactful session.
  • The audience at SXSW EDU is well-versed in the current education landscape. Given the limited space, your description does not need to reference broad statements and statistics about the state of education, and should focus on the specific content of your session.
  • Please do not include speaker names or organizations in the session description as these are listed separately in the application process and beyond.
  • Use paragraph form for your description (no bullets or lists please).
  • Be sure to spell out the first mention of any acronyms you choose to include.
  • Advertorial or brand-centered descriptions are not allowed. If you are interested in promoting your brand at SXSW EDU, please reach out to
  • Please note that learning objectives are optional for Meet Up proposals only, as the Meet Up format is NOT presentation-based.

Step 4: Resources

Add a short creative video and / or visual aids to serve as the digital face of your proposal. You must provide at least one resource to support your programming idea. Videos are highly preferred, and there’s no need for high-value production, as we just want to hear you speak — just record yourself on your phone / computer pitching your idea! Please note, you must have clear rights to whatever resources you include, and please enable closed captioning for any videos you include.

Step 5: Speakers

Speakers are an important part of your proposal and play a large role in the evaluation of your idea. 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 each speaker’s name, title, organization, and bio will be shared with the community.

  • SXSW EDU values diversity in perspective, opinion, and representation and the most interesting sessions are ones that offer many different perspectives. For each proposed speaker, you will be asked to address how they contribute to the diversity of the session.
  • Keep in mind the maximum speaker limits associated with your selected session format. For example, the talk format is limited to a maximum of four speakers, including the moderator, if desired.
  • Moderators are optional but should be independent, neutral facilitators in the discussion. Please note the moderator counts toward your maximum speaker limit.
  • While a particular speaker may be proposed for multiple sessions, in the interest of providing diverse perspectives, speakers will be limited to participating in two (2) programmed sessions (with the exception of Mentor sessions).

Step 6: Review & Submit

Proofread and double-check that your proposal is complete and error-free.

Make sure you take a few moments to review all of the agreement terms before finalizing your proposal. Please note, once submitted, you will NOT be able to make any additional edits to your proposal.

Your proposal is not complete until you click the “Enter Proposal” button.

Preview the full application in this Google Doc before you apply through PanelPicker.

Session Features


Selecting the right track and format for your session idea is essential as it will determine the identity of your session from the number of speakers to the level of audience interaction.


Meet Up (60 min / 1-2 speakers)
A speaker-facilitated networking event that encourages communities to connect around similar topics, passions, roles, or interests. Please note this is NOT a presentation-based session format.

Performance (90 min / 1-4 speakers)
A musical, theatrical, storytelling, dance, poetry, or other performance that includes a workshop or extended Q&A to reflect on the value of the performing arts as a vehicle for deeper learning and offer takeaways for the audience.

Podcast (60 min / 2-4 speakers)
A conversation on topics across the education landscape, hosted by media organizations and existing podcasts, and recorded in an intimate setting amongst a live audience to be used as a future episode.

Solo (30 min / 1 speaker)
A short solo presentation highlighting new and emerging ideas, followed by an audience Q&A.

Talk (60 min / 2-4 speakers)
A focused, diverse, and dynamic exploration of a particular topic, followed by audience Q&A.

Workshop (90 min / 1-3 speakers)
An in-depth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.


Accessibility & Inclusion
Exploring initiatives and programs that focus on special education, learning differences, and disabilities across the learning lifecycle including instructional strategies, assistive technology, universal design, and more

Arts & Storytelling
Exploring arts-based pedagogies and creative practices including the performing and visual arts, arts integration, and the intersection of STEM and STEAM as well as narrative and world-building approaches for teaching and learning

Community Initiatives
Programs and projects focused on empowering and connecting communities in and out of the classroom by highlighting partnerships and work organized by community spaces and groups including libraries, museums, makerspaces, community centers, after-school and summer programs, and more

Emerging Tech
Exploring development and implementation in educational technology including virtual tools, artificial intelligence, XR, blockchain, data interoperability, as well as issues surrounding equitable access to technology and future-forward solutions

Equity & Justice
Addressing work championing equity, justice, access, diversity, and inclusion in education and beyond, including social and economic disparities, culturally responsive teaching, anti-racism practice, LGBTQ+ issues, restorative justice and more to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for all

Global Initiatives
Programs and initiatives exploring the importance of global collaboration in education and beyond including international instructional approaches and business ventures, language acquisition and ESL/ELL instruction, program implementation across borders, global partnerships, cross-cultural initiatives, and more

Health & Wellbeing
Furthering social emotional learning and whole-child education including initiatives addressing mental and physical wellness, trauma-informed practices, and health education with a focus on mental health initiatives and comprehensive wellbeing for educators, students, and families

Policy & Civic Engagement
Addressing education policy issues across local, regional, national, and international governance including funding assessment standards, student data use and privacy, school safety, and digital policies, as well as economic development, advocacy and activism, and government partnerships

Practice & Pedagogy
Content focused on instruction and pedagogy across the entire learning lifecycle with a focus on solution-oriented strategies, innovative teaching, and institutional transformation, with topics including instructional best practices for all educational levels and evolving curricula, leadership practice, and groundbreaking insights

Startups & Investment
Content focused on the business of education with a focus on entrepreneurship and startups, with topics including investment and funding, marketing and branding strategies, corporate initiatives and partnerships, market trends and analysis, and business adaptability

Work Reimagined
Programs and new approaches to upskilling, corporate learning, and talent development, including workforce revitalization and training, and career transitions, as well as initiatives for mature learners and non-traditional students

Diversity Guidelines


Speaker diversity plays an extremely important role in the PanelPicker decision-making process.

The most interesting sessions are ones that include many different perspectives. When choosing speakers keep in mind these basic diversity guidelines.

All sessions with 3 or more speakers should include:

  • Diversity in gender
  • Diversity in ethnicity
  • Diversity in location and employment of speakers
  • Diversity in thought and opinion

We understand that some sessions work best with full representation of a particular group and will review these on a case by case basis.

Selection Process


SXSW EDU 2022 PanelPicker VotingAll ideas received during the PanelPicker entry period will be posted online for community voting. It’s as easy as “review, comment, and vote” to help shape SXSW EDU programming.

Community Votes: 30%
Who knows what you want to see at SXSW EDU better than you? Your input is very important in terms of shaping the look and feel of the event.

SXSW EDU Advisory Board: 40%
A group of industry experts from around the world, the SXSW EDU Advisory Board provides significant feedback on all entries.

SXSW EDU Staff: 30%
With years of experience programming this event, SXSW EDU staffers work to fill any gaps in relevant subject matter, striking a balance between new and veteran speakers.

Stay Involved

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