Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SXSWedu 2014

The opportunity normally presents itself once per year to attend a professional conference, and most years my colleagues and I have all attended TCEA (Texas Computer Educators Association) at the Austin Convention Center. This year, however, about half of us decided to try something new and see what South by Southwest Edu had to offer.

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.