SXSW EDU History


For more than 10 years, SXSW EDU has been evolving with the education sector and its growing importance 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 organizations, SXSW, including innovation, creativity, entrepreneurialism, 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 of this to education.

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 to one of the largest 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.

Over the next several years, SXSW EDU continued to grow, evolving into the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival. With its expanded program, which included SXSW EDU Film program, Performance, and Networking, SXSW EDU grew into a global conference with attendees from all over the world and all parts of the education sector. Bringing in more hands-on learning, Mentor programs and student voice, SXSW EDU continued 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.

As the world continues to evolve so too does SXSW EDU. From foundations to think tanks and celebrities to Secretaries of Education, SXSW EDU has grown from a regional event into one of the largest learning festivals in the world. SXSW EDU 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.

We look forward to being together again at the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival from March 6-9, 2023 in Austin, Texas!




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