Explore Highlights from the 2024 SXSW EDU Conference & Festival

SXSW EDU 2024 - Photo by Akash Kataria

Education’s most passionate thought leaders from all corners of the world convened in Austin, Texas this past March for a whirlwind of inspiration, collaboration, and possibility. SXSW EDU 2024 was an unforgettable event filled with impactful conversations, exposure to innovations, and meaningful connections made. As we reflect back on those exhilarating days, we are reminded of the magic that happens when this community convenes and their boundless drive to create a new tomorrow for learners everywhere.

Centered, Sustainable, Adventurous, and Flourishing are four themes in 2024 that represent what makes the practice of learning foundational. Identified months ago and embodied throughout the March event, these themes emerged through various programming components, networking connections, and unique approaches.

Dive into the top highlights from SXSW EDU 2024:

Powerful Programming

Some of education’s greatest thought leaders and innovators convened at SXSW EDU 2024, with community-curated sessions spanning 12 thematic tracks.

Either opening each day of programming or closing out the event on the final day, inspiring Keynote Sessions left a lasting impression. This year, Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw and Dr. Jonathan Cox kicked off the start of the event with their powerful opening Keynote, where they discussed the debate over Critical Race Theory; Spencer Russell challenged myths around early childhood reading; Sarah Rose Siskind laughed us through the importance of humor as a means of communication; and Yung Pueblo closed the event by guiding the audience through a transformative journey of self-love and the art of letting go.

“If we can teach a toddler to read, we can teach a child with disabilities. If we can teach a toddler to read, we can teach a teenager. If we can teach a toddler to read, we can teach an adult.”

Spencer Russell
Founder, Toddlers CAN Read

In our 14 Featured Sessions, we heard from so many incredible thought leaders, including AI expert Beth Rudden, founder and president of The Historymakers Julieanna Richardson, artist Yiying Lu, psychologist Carol Dweck, co-founder of Capital B Akoto Ofori-Atta, co-executive director at Big Picture Learning Carlos Moreno, associate professor Antero Garcia, 2023 National Teacher of the Year Rebecka Peterson, emcee and recording artist Rapsody, chancellor of Austin Community College District Russell Lowery-Hart, actor Chris Jackson, author and Dungeons & Dragons expert Shelly Mazzanoble, president of Harlem Children’s Zone Geoffrey Canada, recording artist Jackie Venson, and many more.

“Your role in ensuring our young people don’t give up is critical, and you need to recognize how important you are in children’s lives. And you’ve got to be strong and visible and powerful so these young people know there's somebody there who won’t ever let them down.”

Geoffrey Canada
President, Harlem Children’s Zone

Watch SXSW EDU 2024 Keynote & Featured Sessions

Riveting Competitions

The competitions at SXSW EDU 2024 showcased many talented teams, with seven Launch Startup Competition finalists and six Student Impact finalists. During the March event, these finalists competed against each other in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.

Women won big at the Launch Startup Competition, presented by the Walton Family Foundation, with all three prize winners being women-led startups. Maro, a company that created a tool for screening youth mental health, was this year’s Launch Startup Competition winner. NaTakallam, a company that hires displaced persons as online teachers and translators, was this year’s Impact Award winner. Struggly, which is integrating neuroscience, math education research and behavioral game design into engaging and challenging mathematical tasks was this year’s Community Choice Award winner.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have pitched alongside so many incredible founders at SXSW EDU’s Launch Startup Competition, and Maro won! For us, this means that we just gained an incredible amount of exposure to new school districts who are really looking for ways to support their student’s mental health, so we’re really grateful for that velocity to accelerate our growth as an organization, but also to scale our impact and screen more students.”

Kenzie Butera Davis
Founder & CEO, Maro

The Student Impact Challenge, presented by The Allstate Foundation, named ReAlign, from Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, as this year’s winner. ReAlign focuses on leveraging neuroplasticity for early detection and management of amblyopia in young individuals.

“It's been such a great honor for ReAlign to win the SXSW EDU Student Impact ChallengeAward. It means a lot to us as a startup made up of young entrepreneurs. The confidence that the judges have placed in us, in impacting our community is so special. This has been a great opportunity and I thank SXSW EDU for this opportunity.”

Ashish Chettimada
Founder, ReAlign

Inspiring Films

This year’s film program highlighted topical issues in education including the cycles of displacement, the historical plight of Black farmers in the U.S., why you should join a club, the history of the Harlem Children’s Zone, the acting and directorial debut of a 9-year-old boy, and so much more.

“This movie could actually, like, kind of motivate kids specifically to make movies of their own. They don’t have to be a certain age to make movies.”

Marshall Sepello
Director, Writer & Star, Marshall Man

Powerful Performances

Performances are a unique element of the SXSW EDU program, serving as a vehicle to dive deeper into concepts fueled by the performance through workshop-style experiences. This year, performances tackled hip-hop-inspired teaching approaches, tools to introduce STEM to students, a live musical performance by local students, and more.

Dynamic Expo

The SXSW EDU 2024 Expo held over 100 exhibitors that highlighted the latest innovations in learning, was host to the Launch Startup Competition and Student Impact Challenge, provided daily snack and coffee breaks and other networking opportunities, and so much more.

New Connections

Through one-on-one Mentor Sessions and Roundtable Discussions, Walking Tours and Hikes, Meet Ups, Pop-Up Dinners, and more, the opportunities to grow your network were limitless.

Look Back at the Event

Take a peek at sessions, films, performances, and more from SXSW EDU 2024:

See You Next Year

We look forward to seeing you next year, March 3-6, 2025! Buy your badge for SXSW EDU 2025 at the lowest available rate! Take advantage of the limited presale and secure your spot by April 15, plus receive early access to hotels this summer.

Interested in speaking next year? Apply to speak at SXSW EDU 2025 through PanelPicker starting June 25, 2024. Stay tuned for more information on participation opportunities and more when you subscribe to our newsletters.

Thank you so much for joining us, and we can’t wait to see you again next year!

Photo by Akash Kataria

By Auva Saghafi