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“Fixing It” at SXSWedu

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Call me biased, but I think the vibe at SXSWedu is a breath of optimism in what is often a drudge-weary national dialog on change and transformation in education.

Maybe it’s in the water at Austin, but the cross-section of makers, teachers, innovators and visionaries is inspiring. I wish we could pull some of the great people we have heard so far, put them all in one big room and ask them to “fix it.” I suspect they could. In many ways they already are.

Here are some of the great things the EDU team is seeing:

  • Presenters from MakerFaire and Green Dot Schools discussed creativity in education. The key to creativity in education is not being afraid to let students try and fail – and try again. Creative education leaders develop a safe space to do this. When students see others being creative, it takes hold. Look at our schools – too many of them look impenetrable. But a simple change in space changes everything.
  • As superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school system, Alberto Carvalho is driving a complete digital convergence and, in the process, knocking down the classroom walls to create a new culture of learning. From simple changes to bringing in bean bags for students to game-changing broadband access for more than 400,000 students, Carvalho is the face of school reform today. He shared the ABCDs of true education reform: Applications, Broadband, Content and interestingly last on the list, Devices. Through a system-wide confluence of digital resources an emergent technologies paired with blended learning and digital devices, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is now widely considered the nation’s highest-performing urban system. Carvalho provides a compelling case study for why vs. why not.
  • Georgetown is stepping out boldly and asking the biggest questions about what higher education will be in the future. They have placed their bets on the belief that in 100 years, place will still matter – critically. And the interaction between faculty and students will be the “precious resource.” But Georgetown also believes that everything else is up for debate: how and when students learn, are measured and prepare for meaningful lives. So they have convened a year of “Designing the Future University from the Inside,” by asking students, faculty, staff and alumni to participate in a “hackathon” to envision and design the Georgetown of the future. Robert Groves, Georgetown’s Provost, observed the enthusiasm that students are bringing to the process is staggering.

Many of the speakers we’ve seen over the last two days passed through the Edelman-sponsored green rooms, which have turned out to be great interactive spaces. We’re biased, but we think some of the best selfies have been taken on our new green room #EdelCam, and tweeted on @EdelmanEDU. Check us out!

This post was authored by Julia Weede, senior vice president and Education sector lead, and the Edelman Education team.

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