SXSW EDU 2020 Programming Trends

SXSW EDU 2019 Weaving by Cocolab photo by Caleb Pickens

As we approach 10 years of SXSW EDU, the programming trends for 2020 in many ways reflect the broader evolution of education over the past decade from the systems of schooling through standards and assessment to a more intentional focus on the individual learner’s successful pathway through education to career and beyond. From more than 1,700 proposals in PanelPicker to the many applications we receive for our competitions, the following trends represent what we are seeing from the community and in the programming for SXSW EDU 2020. What follows is a curated list of the top 10 trends in our programming with supporting sessions, tracks, and tags to explore further at this year’s event.

    2020 Trends:

  • Curriculum for the Modern Era
  • Education’s Role in Society
  • Future of Content Delivery
  • Inclusive Practice for Identity and Orientation
  • Promise of Higher Education
  • Racial Identity, Equity, and Consciousness
  • Rise of Conscious Investing
  • Storytelling in a Modern World
  • The New Norm: Lifelong Learning
  • Youth for Climate Change

Curriculum for the Modern Era

Essential knowledge and skills for the modern learner continue to be redefined as technology gets further embedded into the working world. As we excel at tasks that are uniquely human, the role of the humanities, arts, and other creative endeavors become increasingly important. Beyond the development of core interpersonal skills, curriculum is evolving to be more reflective of the student body it serves.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Blended Learning, Curriculum Design, Higher Education, Instruction, K-12 Education, Language Learning, Personalize Learning, Project Based Learning

Education’s Role in Society

As the 2020 election approaches and countries around the world grapple with the current state of politics, there is a renewed focus on civic education and constructive political discourse. Not only is it imperative to prepare the rising generation for a modern democracy, but fundamental questions around the role of education in society are coming to the forefront. Should higher education be free for all? Who has access to early childhood education? Where does the responsibility to retrain the existing workforce lie?

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Affordability, Employability & Talent Development, Media Literacy, Policy & Civic Engagement, Social Justice, Student Agency

Future of Content Delivery

How will content delivery change in an increasingly connected world as we move past print and even handheld devices to the next wave of technology? As learning increasingly transitions to responsive digital learning platforms, extended reality (XR) and voice technology, books no longer exclusively serve as the primary resource for learning. Clearly, the written word has been the vehicle for learning for centuries and will remain prominent, but the promise of new technology to evolve how students learn is real.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Artificial Intelligence, EdTech, Emerging Tech & Development, Gaming, Online Education, Science of Learning, Universal Design, XR

Inclusive Practice for Identity and Orientation

By creating gender-inclusive learning environments, identifying research gaps, and standardizing a modern vocabulary for sexual orientation, educational institutions can create intentional policies and practices that better meet the needs of all students. Generation Z’s embrace of personal identity and intersectionality necessitates a more inclusive approach to sex education and learning more broadly.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Diversity, Equity, Mental Health, Policy & Civic Engagement, Social Justice, Student Voice

Promise of Higher Education

Decades of rising costs, ballooning student debt, and challenges with completion leave society questioning the value of higher education and if it is delivering on its promise. From new models for funding higher education like income-sharing agreements to the rise in short-term bootcamps and certificate programs, the traditional framework for higher education is being challenged. The value of post-secondary completion is clear, but the way it is being measured as a return on investment is changing as the future of work continues to evolve.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Adult Learning, Affordability, Career, Employability & Talent Development, Equity, Higher Education, Student Agency

Racial Identity, Equity, and Consciousness

Education has long held the promise of being an important vehicle to drive equity in society, yet issues of equity and access remain prominent. As the learning community grows their collective consciousness and understanding of the impact of bias in education, leaders are pushing for more reflective practices to better enable all leaders and learners alike. Building a foundation of positive and inclusive racial identity development in young children as educators support an increasingly diverse student body is key to countering bias and injustice in learning.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Diversity, Equity, Leadership, Policy & Civic Engagement, Social Justice, Student Agency

Rise of Conscious Investing

Investors are becoming increasingly conscious of the social and environmental impact of funding decisions, and as a result, dollars continue to move towards causes that align with mission and value. As is the case for many historically under-supported sectors, we are seeing a surge of investment energy surrounding education and an influx of socially responsible decision making.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Business & Investment, EdTech, Emerging Tech & Development, Entrepreneurs & Startups, Equity, Leadership

Storytelling in a Modern World

The oldest form of teaching continues to be relevant in the information age. Modern storytelling takes many forms, from audio podcasts to multi-sensory experiences. At the heart of the medium though, you will find great stories rooted in narratives that are designed to allow students room to be creative and vulnerable.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Arts, Curriculum Design, Leadership, Media Literacy, SEL & Wellness, Storytelling, Student Voice

The New Norm: Lifelong Learning

Advancements in technology continue to change the nature of work leaving educational institutions and employers to rethink how workers are upskilling to meet today’s demands. Lifelong learning is the new prerequisite for success in the modern workplace and expectations for who is responsible for workforce development continue to evolve as employers step in to fill the void.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Adult Learning, Career, Credentials, Employability & Talent Development, Higher Education, Professional Development

Youth for Climate Change

Student advocacy continues to draw attention to the climate crisis, both in the U.S. and internationally. The outcry for change has gained significant momentum with youth-led school strikes that replace classroom time with public demonstrations. While students grapple to be heard, educators are assessing the impact of curriculum and campuses are making strides to reduce their carbon footprint.

Related Sessions:

Related Tracks & Tags: Community, Global Education, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Social Justice, Student Agency, Student Voice

Hundreds of Sessions and Events Announced

SXSW EDU art installation Weaving by Cocolab photo by Caleb Pickens.

By Greg Rosenbaum