Live from Austin: A SXSWedu Preview

The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, owns the rare and noble distinction of being both the coolest and nerdiest media conference of the year. Thousands upon thousands (nearly 20,000 attended just the interactive conference last year) of tech geeks, top researchers, entrepreneurs, rock stars, and celebrities descend upon Austin for two weeks of panels, parties, shows, networking and tacos.

Some of the biggest technology companies, like Twitter and Foursquare, for instance, owe much of their success to early SXSW buzz.

For the second year, SXSW is holding an education conference, SXSWedu, in the days (March 5-8) preceding the conferences for interactive media, film, and music. Technology-friendly education conferences are nothing new, but that perhaps the largest media conference of the year is focusing on education signals the industry is in an ever-changing state.

SXSWedu attendance is expected to increase dramatically this year, behind a big-name lineup of speakers and panels. This year’s keynote speakers are U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino, and former Star Trek star and current Reading Rainbow Executive Producer LeVar Burton. A roster of leaders in charter schools, educational gaming, classroom technology, and research fill out dozens of panels scheduled throughout the conference.

I recently touched down in Austin, where I’ll be covering SXSWedu and the SXSW Interactive conferences for the next 10 days or so. In this space, I’ll be posting dispatches, interviews, and some of the sights and sounds of the conference. If you’re at the conference, come up and say hi (I’m the guy in the upper right corner of this blog) and if you’re not, let me know what you’d like to hear about. You can also follow our Marketplace K-12 Twitter account for continuous updates.

Here’s a sampling of some notable events on the SXSWedu schedule this year:

Photo: Downtown Austin from the hotel room of yours truly. (Jason Tomassini/Education Week)

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