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

Begin a PanelPicker Proposal

SXSW EDU 2020 PanelPicker guide.

How PanelPicker Works


PanelPicker® is a digital, crowd-sourced platform that enables the community to propose programming ideas for SXSW EDU, March 9-12, 2020.

Simply enter your session proposal for SXSW EDU 2020 during the submission window. Then PanelPicker will re-open for public voting, allowing the public to review, vote on, and provide feedback for all ideas entered.

Enter a PanelPicker Application

Final PanelPicker Proposal Grade

SXSW EDU 2020 PanelPicker final proposal grade infographic.
The final decision is derived from SXSW EDU Advisory Board evaluations (40%), public voting (30%), and staff review (30%).

Important Dates

July 1 – PanelPicker opens for entries
July 21 – PanelPicker entry window closes
August 5 – PanelPicker public voting begins
August 23 – PanelPicker public voting ends

Sign into 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 2020.

Sign into PanelPicker

The application form is divided into six steps and PanelPicker allows you to save and continue as you go. Click on the question mark icons throughout the application for helpful tips and guidelines. For additional questions, please reference the FAQ.

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.
  • 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.
  • Clearly identify the intended audience for your session, as well as the level of expertise 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

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

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 panel 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 a single programmed session.

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.



SXSW EDU PanelPicker infographic, classroom roomset.

Case Study
1-3 Speakers, 60 Min
A focused presentation highlighting research findings from relevant initiatives and projects, followed by audience Q&A.

1 Speaker, 20 Min
A short solo presentation highlighting new and emerging ideas, followed by an optional audience Q&A.

2-4 Speakers, 60 Min
A diverse and dynamic exploration of a particular topic, followed by audience Q&A.

1-3 Speakers, 1.5 Hours
A dynamic performance combined with a workshop-style experience offering a deeper understanding of the concepts fueling the performance, and activities that can be adopted for the classroom.

2-4 Speakers, 60 Min
A podcast conversation on topics across the education landscape, hosted by media organizations and recorded in an intimate setting amongst a live audience at the event.

2-3 Speakers, 30 Min
A focused, high-energy presentation centered on breakthroughs and insights, followed by audience Q&A.

SXSW EDU PanelPicker infographic, campfire roomset.

Hands On
1-2 Speakers, 30 Min
A short, informal, activity-based session that facilitates interactive and creative learning techniques.

Meet Up
1-2 Speakers, 60 Min
A speaker-facilitated networking event that encourages communities to connect around similar topics, passions, roles, or interests.

1-3 Speakers, 1.5 Hours
An in-depth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

SXSW EDU PanelPicker infographic, workshop roomset.

1-2 Speakers, 60 Min
A speaker-led, open conversation that focuses on driving a dialogue with attendees around a particular topic rather than offering a structured presentation.


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.

Adult Learning
Programs and practices for continuing education, workforce training, and professional development as well as initiatives for mature learners and non- traditional students.

Exploring arts-based pedagogies and practices including the performing and visual arts, arts integration and funding, and the intersection of STEM and STEAM.

Business & Investment
Content focused on the business of education including entrepreneurship and startups, investment and funding, marketing strategies, corporate initiatives and partnerships, market trends and analysis, and more.

Early Learning
Content centered on early learning instruction and pedagogy, administration, program and tool implementation and topics surrounding access, child development, funding, school design, and more.

Emerging Tech & Development
Exploring what’s next in educational technology and implementation including artificial intelligence, XR, blockchain, cybersecurity, and more, as well as a look at technology development, coding, and data interoperability.

Addressing issues related to equity, access, and diversity in education including social and economic factors, culturally responsive teaching, anti-racism practices and pedagogy, LGBTQ+ issues, and more to ensure equitable outcomes and opportunities for all.

Global Education
Programs and initiatives surrounding global collaboration in education including international instructional approaches and business ventures, language acquisition and ESL / ELL instruction, program implementation across borders, global partnerships, cross cultural initiatives, and more.

Higher Education
Content addressing higher education instruction and pedagogy, administration, program and tech implementation, and issues surrounding access, assessment, funding and affordability, career readiness, school design, and more.

Informal Learning
Programs and projects furthering learning outside of traditional classrooms and lecture halls including work based in libraries, museums, makerspaces, community centers, after-school and summer programs, and more.

K–12 Education
Content focused on primary and secondary school instruction and pedagogy, administration, program and tech implementation and issues surrounding public and private education, assessment, funding, school design, college and career readiness, and more.

Exploring leadership and development in management and administration across all facets of the educational ecosystem from school, district, and institutional leadership, to business and executive management, and groundbreaking insights.

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

Science of Learning
Encompassing cognitive development, brain science, and research into how we think and learn.

SEL & Wellness
Furthering social emotional learning and whole- child education including initiatives addressing mental and physical wellness, trauma-informed practices, and health education.

Student Agency
Celebrating student initiative and advocacy by highlighting student voices, viewpoints, and achievements.

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.

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