Here are my observations, comparisons, and conclusions from the experience:
- If you're looking for skill-enhancing sessions, definitely attend TCEA.
- If you go to SX and want to learn tech skills, go to the Google Lounge.
- If you want to consider the state of education and where it may turn, attend SXSWedu.
- At SXSWedu be careful when attending panel discussions. Many of them are sponsored and tend to lean heavily in the direction of the sponsor's product.
- While SX had some new tech product demonstrations, TCEA is the place to see what's coming out and what's going away.
- At both conferences the keynote speakers are a tossup. Some years they are informative and inspirational while some years they are only mildly entertaining.
- I appreciated being able to hear Wendy Davis, candidate for governor of Texas lay out her platform on education in a relatively intimate setting. It's important to understand what the candidates have to say when it comes to the things we care about.
- Personally, the SXSWedu film festival was by far the most enjoyable part of the experience. Each of the three films I saw was inspiring in one way or another.
So in nutshell, the two conferences serve their own purposes. The audiences have an overlap, and most educators can benefit from both. I believe that I will continue to attend both but on alternating years.