Three Interesting, Maybe Conflicting Ideas from Boston's SXSWedu Meetup

Three Interesting, Maybe Conflicting Ideas from Boston's SXSWedu Meetup

The Vault Bar in Boston during SXSWedu’s Boston Community Meetup on July 10, 2014. Participants shared their ideas and concerns surrounding education. (Peter Balonon-Rosen, WBUR)

Peter Balonon-Rosen / WBUR

The Vault Bar in Boston during SXSWedu’s Boston Community Meetup on July 10, 2014. Participants shared their ideas and concerns surrounding education. (Peter Balonon-Rosen)

Massachusetts educators, school specialists, and education technology professionals are searching for the best and brightest ideas for improving education.

At The Vault Bar in Boston over 30 such individuals convened for SXSWedu’s Boston Community Meetup — each with big ideas for education’s future they hope to share on stage at March 2015’s SXSWedu event in Austin, Texas.

University-Elementary Collaborative Partnership and Maker Space

The Kennedy-Longfellow/Lesley University Partnership is a three year technology-innovation project between the Cambridge elementary school and Lesley University, serving students in junior kindergarten through fifth grade.

The project transformed the Kennedy Longfellow Elementary School’s computer lab into a Maker Space — a free-flowing workspace where the room can be easily reconfigured based on a learning activity’s needs. The space is equipped iPads, a green screen for video production, an interactive whiteboard, video cameras and electric circuits.

“We can use our technology to engage students in new ways of learning and critical thinking,” said Sue Cusack, a Partnership Co-leader. “Students can’t be told what to learn, they must experience it.”

Cusack said the space will help to elevate experiential learning in a tech-ed environment, an area she believes has yet to be extensively explored in public schools.

Digitizing Textbooks

Ariel Diaz, CEO of Boundless, wants to continue established textbook learning in a manner he says is compatible with the 21st century.

Boundless is working to replace traditional textbooks with digital versions. Traditional textbooks are increasing in cost and may not be affordable to all, Diaz said.

“Personalized learning should be supported,” he said. “Accessibility is a part of that.”

Ed-tech: The Side Effects

Some attendees were concerned about impacts the influx of new technology is having on students. Kathy Fleming, school psychologist, hopes that SXSWedu will include panels on what she sees as a pressing issue.

Fleming wants hear about the psychological impacts that increasingly high-tech environments are having on students, “particularly in special education,” she said.

SXSWedu Wants You

This year, Greg Rosenbaum, SXSWedu Producer, would like to see an increase in student participation at the conference and their events. Last year only three percent of attendees were under the age of 25.

The most prominent group present at the meetup were businesses hoping to share their ideas for enhancing education. They’re hoping to be SXSWedu panelists in order to gain a larger audience and perhaps, ultimately, contracts.

Panel ideas must be submitted by July 25. More here.

What do you think of the ideas presented? Do you think students and teachers are well represented in discussions about education’s future? What implications may this hold for the way education is being shaped?