Featured Sessions

Featured sessions headline each hour’s collection of sessions and contribute greatly to the SXSWedu experience. Broadly aligned with trending issues, these celebrated voices offer engaging insights and perspectives.

Check out the listing of speakers already confirmed for the 2015 event below and stay tuned for session details and additional announcements as March approaches.

Restructuring The Future Of Mozambican Education

Monday, March 9 | 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Restructuring The Future Of Mozambican Education

Castigo Langa (The Republic of Mozambique)
Celio Mondlane (Joaquim Chissano Foundation)
Christine Garde (CouldYou?)
Leonardo Santos Simão (Joaquim Chissano Foundation)

Mozambique is embarking on an ambitious education reform and would like to invite the world’s educators and great thinkers to share their knowledge and expertise of education innovation and pedagogical best practices. Attendees will gain a detailed understanding of the history and challenges facing this nation and hopefully feel compelled to partner with a nation poised to lift itself out of poverty through the implementation of innovative educational approaches.

Howard Fuller

No Struggle, No Progress

Monday, March 9 | 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Dr. Howard Fuller (Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University)
Interviewed by Mark Updegrove

Former Milwaukee Public School Superintendent, and author of No Struggle, No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform, has been a national advocate for education reform for more than 40 years. Join one of the leading voices in support of school choice and school vouchers in an interview exploring thoughts and reactions on some of today’s leading educational challenges.

Sunni Brown

How to Stay Curious (Using Something as Simple as Doodling)

Monday, March 9 | 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Sunni Brown (sunnibrown.com)

Education is a full mind-body experience and true learning emerges out of a base of curiosity. But patterning habits of the mind - the tendency of the mind to make the world dualistic and black-and-white - can get in the way of persistent inquiry into the nature of the world around us. Join her for an interactive session that uses one of our native languages (visual language!) to demonstrate how we can continue to keep the mind open, to heighten awareness, and ultimately, to stay both expansive and sharp as learners and as people.

My Brother's Keeper: One Year Later

Tuesday, March 10 | 9:00am - 10:00am


Eloy Ortiz Oakley (Long Beach Community College District)
Kaya Henderson (DC Public Schools)
Michael Smith (The White House)
Tonya Allen (The Skillman Foundation)

Despite areas of enormous progress in this country, the gates of opportunity have not fully opened for all in America. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color. My Brother’s Keeper, a signature initiative of the Obama administration, is celebrating its first anniversary and its collaborative approach to building ladders of opportunity to unlock the full potential of our young people. Learn more of MBK’s first year successes and its priorities moving forward from leaders in K-12, higher-education, and philanthropy.

Linda Darling-Hammond & Stephan Turnipseed

Employers Need More Than Just a Test Score

Tuesday, March 10 | 10:30am - 11:30am

Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford Center of Opportunity Policy in Education)
Stephan Turnipseed (LEGO Education)

What if job performance was measured by a year-end test aiming to boil all of our work down to a single score? As meaningless as that would be, that's how our education system works; with the majority of instruction and student evaluation driven toward a single, year-end test. To foster classrooms that develop innovative, resourceful adults who can hold the jobs of the future—jobs which don't even exist today—we need to implement rigorous accountability systems that foster meaningful learning.

Carl Hooker

Raised By Siri: A Digital Parenting Course

Tuesday, March 10 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Carl Hooker (Eanes ISD)

Siri: "What can I help you with"

Me: "How do I raise my kids with all these devices?"

Siri: "Sorry, I didn't get that."

Remember when your parents used to complain about television and rock n' roll? Now we complain about Snap Chat and Texting. We are now officially old. Unlike our parents we have tools and resources available to us, but how many of those are valuable and how many of them are scare tactics? In this entertaining session we'll find answers that Siri can't.

Rosanne Somerson

The Impact of Critical Making

Tuesday, March 10 | 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Rosanne Somerson (Rhode Island School of Design)

Join as this session explores the power of integrating “making” into education. The success of the maker movement has advanced this idea, but the model typically lacks the depth and rigor necessary for meaningful and lasting impact. When students connect advanced conceptual thinking with the materials and methods of making they learn to actively invent the world, shaping their futures and ours.

EdTech for Educational Inclusion

Tuesday, March 10 | 3:00pm - 4:00pm

To explore how Ed-tech and adaptive learning tools are transforming learning to reach all students and minimize institutional educational disparity. New approaches to teaching and learning are providing us with unprecedented opportunities to break the legacies of educational inequality and open doors to economic opportunity. Panelists will discuss the connection between new learning technologies and educational inclusion in addition to disruptive strategies to prepare all of today’s students.

Dr. Christine Johns (Utica Community Schools)
Teri Rousseau (Reading Rainbow)
Jessie Woolley-Wilson (DreamBox Learning)
Sehreen NoorAli (Noodle / EdTechWomen)

Dallas Dance

Preparing Globally Competitive Students

Wednesday, March 11 | 9:00am - 10:00am

Dr. Dallas Dance (Baltimore County Public Schools)

This session will discuss the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) S.T.A.T. Initiative by outlining how BCPS started with the development of digital curriculum before choosing a device. This has been critical in keeping the focus on instruction, professional development, and the creating of collaborative and engaged learning environments for students and teachers. Initiatives such as this and the second language acquisition are critical to preparing students to be globally competitive.

Higher Education Built by Students for Students

Wednesday, March 11 | 10:30am - 11:30am

Higher Education Built by Students for Students

Traditional universities balance the interest of alumni, professors, donors, administrators, parents and more. The most important constituent - students - are often relegated to student governments that cannot enact real change. What would a university look like if students could shape their own educational experience? This session features three students who are challenging higher education institutions to reimagine curriculum, pedagogy, residential life, job preparation and more.

Alisha Fredriksson (Minerva Schools at KGI)
Jill Barshay (Hechinger Report)
Dale Stephens (UnCollege)
Zak Malamed (Student Voice)

Ann Cotton

The Power of Data for Poverty Eradication

Wednesday, March 11 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Ann Cotton (Camfed)

In the field of international development, data flows from poor to rich communities, from development agencies to donors, and from the governed to the governing. Poor people give away their personal data and do not participate in analysis or receive conclusions. Join the 2014 WISE Prize for Education Laureate as she describes how this one-way data flow reflects and sustains asymmetric relationships in the sector and undermines poverty eradication initiatives, and demonstrates the power of data sharing within poor communities to create positive change.

Jeff Sandefer

The Learner Driven Revolution

Wednesday, March 11 | 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Jeff Sandefer (Acton Academy)

The Acton Academy in Austin, Texas has drawn a great deal of attention with its Learner Driven Education model, which promises to deliver transformational learning for less than $2000 per student per year. The Learner Driven model sees students as "heroes who will change the world" and puts almost all learning and studio governance in their hands. By September 2014 Acton will have nine schools around the world and expects to have twenty five schools open by September 2015.

Guy Kawasaki

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Wednesday, March 11 | 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Guy Kawasaki (Canva)

Entrepreneurial education is booming. It is no surprise given the desire of today's generation to collaborate, create and contribute to social good. Join this session for intensely passionate and personal observations about life's hindsights and what today's educators can do to prepare students for a lifetime of joy, enlightenment, and contribution to society.

Shiza Shahid

Empowering Girls and Women to Lead

Thursday, March 12 | 9:00am - 10:00am

Shiza Shahid (Malala Fund)
Interviewed by Caroline Howard

Sixty six million girls around the world are out of school and without education; they are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Pakistani social entrepreneur and recent co-founder of the Malala Fund with Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai has been actively advocating for women's education and entrepreneurship and empowering girls to achieve their potential through education. This session will highlight the importance of empowering young girls and women to lead.


A Tale of Two Schools: Time to Close the Opportunity Gap

Thursday, March 12 | 10:30am - 11:30am

Lily Eskelsen Garcia (National Education Association)

More than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, we still find separate and unequal schools. Education is a civil right, and we must ensure all students receive the education they deserve. Each and every child, regardless of where they live, who their parents are or how much money they have, deserves a quality education. Join Lily Eskelsen Garcia, a 5th grade teacher from Utah and president of the National Education Association, as she explains the fundamental failure to meet this moral responsibility.