3 Teaching Tips I Learned At SXSWEdu

Written by Gerson Ribeiro, an Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader in Recife, Brazil.

My first time at SXSWedu in Austin, TX was simply mind-blowing! I had the honor of being there and even better, I got a chance to stay at the HQ of Education Entrepreneurs with five other amazing people that were focused on engaging around the topic of education.

The keynotes, panels, and after-parties were both fun and informative. SXSWEdu is the perfect event for learning more about edtech, education innovation, and the trends that will change how we learn and teach.

Here are three key things I learned there that I’m excited to share with you:

1) Kids must learn how to code

One trend that is not exactly new, but everybody is talking about, is the importance to teach kids how to code. I believe that coding is being emphasized for two reasons: 1) the computing industry is growing and we need to prepare our kids for these jobs, and 2) programming makes the brain connect things better and more systematically.

At SXSWEdu there was a presentation by Matt Venn and his presentation focused on three topics:

  • How to teach computing without a computer
  • How to teach programming without code
  • How to teach computing without being boring

I was really impressed by his titles and was amazed by the time he finished the presentation. As a university programming student, I thought it would never be possible to teach computing without a computer or without coding. Matt’s presentation showed me that it’s very simple to do all of that with kids by using different approaches to programming besides just going to the keyboard and typing everything.

First, he made us understand that coding is really about the logics behind it. Logics and parameters are easy to understand and are applicable for everything in our world. His example was to ask for a blindfolded person to move from one place to the other.

Of course this is difficult with obstacles, so we had to devise some basic instructions, like walk a limited number of steps, define the size of each step, turn right or left 90 degrees and stop. This may sound silly but basic programming could be something like that:

  • define step = size of your foot;
  • start:
  • walk straight ahead for 20 steps;
  • turn left_90_degrees;
  • walk straight ahead for 5 steps;
  • turn right_90_degrees;
  • stop

Kids would easily understand these basic concepts and then you would go further into coding by introducing other real-life activities to teach them more about the logics behind it.

That was a lot of fun to do! If you are a teacher you should try it!

2) Bring Hollywood to class

New research and different experiments show us that we can’t just teach kids in a passive way. We need to motivate them to be curious, active and go learn by themselves. One very interesting approach was shown at SXSWEdu by using different aspects from Hollywood, video games, and storytelling.

At the Playground Talks & Hands-On (an awesome place where you learn by doing), we had the privilege to engage in an activity hosted by Allan Staker. There, around 10 adults were on a quest to find a missing researcher that was solving a very important mystery.

By using different elements, like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, we were involved in solving the whole mystery behind the story by learning trigonometry, geography, history, and other things. We also got a free compass! Yay!!!

The main idea is to bring the students to a journey that has mystery, drama, and action. A journey where they are active characters, and their job is to solve whatever the mission requests of them. This is an interesting approach, but also a little tricky, because the teacher must find new ways to teach the same curriculum but embedded inside the context of the story.

Storytelling is very important, and structuring an exciting story is key to success.

Maybe very soon we are going to be seeing some RPG games with quests that include some math problem solving and biology research embedded in it. We’ll see!

3) We don’t know (yet) which model is the best: Old vs New

I’ve been working to innovate education for a while now and meeting Brian Greenberg from Silicon Schools was simply an honor. The guy is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I could not have imagined that there would be somebody willing to confront him on a public panel, fervently defending traditional schooling. (For those of you who don’t know, Brian is an advocate for new school models). That was before I met Anthony Kim, the super smart CEO of Education Elements. They were in a battle to defend their points of view during the panel School Models: Tried and True vs. Shiny and New.

Heather Staker was responsible for mediating the conversation and made it even more rich by asking very difficult questions.

While Brian was defending how we can develop new and innovative schools by using different methods, Anthony brought the traditional point of view for solutions in education.

For us in the audience, it was really interesting to see these two points of view being discussed at the same time. Is the old school model so bad after all? Are these brand new learning methods going to really work in the long run?

One thing’s for sure, this is a debate that will go on for a long time.

 

More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.








Meet the Panelists Who Will Make You Question Everything About School

Why does school mean four walls, one teacher, and 20 students? Ever had an idea for how to reinvent a school from the ground up? In just a few weeks, Education Entrepreneurs will host a panel at SXSWEdu that will discuss how to design schools of the future that create opportunities for students and teachers to thrive. Personalized learning and competency-based education will be covered, as well as a framework for rethinking school infrastructure and specific next steps to begin the process of redesigning a school. Our panel involves an exciting line-up of educators, technologists, school founders, funders, and researchers. Continue reading below to get a closer look at who they are, checkout the panel location and time, and see the full line-up of Education Entrepreneurs events at SXSWEdu.

Jonathan Tiongco 

What do you do for work?

LA_JUDGE_JonathanTiongco-1406129944[1]I am the Director of Blended Learning for Alliance School Transformation (BLAST) implementation for Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a charter management organization serving 26 schools and over 11,000 students in Los Angeles, California. I oversee our portfolio of blended learning schools, which includes blended learning pilots, full-school conversions, and a Next Generation Learning Challenges grantee school.

What do you do for fun?

My wife and I live in Downtown Los Angeles with our two children, Madelyn and Miles. We absolutely love Los Angeles and try to enjoy all that the city has to offer, including all of the sporting events, public parks, library programming, and of course, our city’s amazing culinary scene. Because of this love for our city, we own and operate a Los Angeles-based food tour company called Six Taste where we take guests through nine different neighborhoods of Los Angeles, learning about the history, culture, and cuisine of these areas. Aside from this, we love to travel, dance, and hang out with our family and friends.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Change management and gaining buy-in from all stakeholders. For many of my colleagues, they have never worked in or experienced education in a blended learning environment. My challenge, which I love, is getting all of my team members to believe in the work that we’re doing and how it can make a positive impact on our students to better prepare them for college and career.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Supporting principals and teachers through ongoing professional development, mentorship, and coaching. Our principals and teachers are the ones doing the really amazing work of educating our children, so whatever I can do to support them is very rewarding for me.

What are you most excited to share with the audience at SXSWEdu?

Practical ideas and strategies for going blended in their school contexts.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, school is…

An unlimited passport allowing students to “travel” and learn about all of the wonderful people, places, and things that they’re passionate about at their own time, path, and pace.

 

Christine Ortiz

C086What do you do for work?

Currently, I’m a student in the Ed.L.D. program at Harvard.

What do you do for fun?

My favorite thing to do is just spending quality time with cool people. I enjoy playing poker, dancing and snowboarding now that I’m up north again. Does organizing events (like Startup Weekend Education) and coaching startups count?

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Being in school and not “doing” is super hard for me, but something I know I need to do right now to be able to really impact the sector in the future.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Being around really passionate, intelligent people with such a diverse set of experiences and points of view is a dream come true.

What are you most excited to share with the audience at SXSWEdu?

How possible (not easy, but definitely possible) it is to take a vision you have for education and make it a reality.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, school is…

A real life choose-your-own-adventure book.

Benjamin Kutylo

New Zealand Fly Fishing Expeditions - BK (32)What do you do for work?

I lead the Chicago Public Education Fund’s Innovation Portfolio, which is focused on empowering and enabling Chicago educators to redesign schools and classrooms to better meet the needs of each student. More specifically, I do the following:

  • Develop and launch programs that offer educators opportunities to rethink schools at various levels of depth and scale.

  • Make seed investments in other organizations to build and strengthen the ecosystem in Chicago to support innovation in education

  • Provide strategic consulting to district leadership and other Chicago-based organizations to create policies and strategies to support great educators in innovating.

What do you do for fun?

I’m an obsessed fly fisherman!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Navigating the many complexities and competing forces in a huge city and district to accomplish our objectives.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with great principals, teachers and students and giving them time, space, guidance, support and some resources to develop solutions to the challenges they face.

What are you most excited to share with the audience at SXSW Edu?

The great work that Chicago educators are doing to redesign public schools of all types and the growing innovation movement in the nation’s third largest district.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, school is…

A place where the holistic needs of every child are met by educators and the school community effectively, efficiently and sustainably.

Check here for the full listing of SXSWEdu events that Education Entrepreneurs and its Community Leaders will be hosting. 








What time is it? SXSWEdu Time!

Last year, SXSWEdu was a blast, (if you need any reminding, check out our photo album). We’re certain that this year will be even better! From March 9-12th, we’ll be in Austin, TX participating in five SXSWEdu events.

10001435_468587706603989_1071376295_n

1. LAUNCHedu Competition

Early-stage startups seeking feedback, investment, strategic partnerships and exposure were invited to apply online to have their company considered for the competition. The promising startups that are selected as finalists in the competition will present their early stage business concepts before a judging panel of industry experts, early adopters and educators, as well as a live audience at SXSWedu. More details.

2. Workshop: Understanding and Empathizing With Education Users

How well do you think you know your user? Whether you’re a teacher trying to understand the needs of students in your classroom or an entrepreneur trying to understand the needs of teachers and students who use your product, empathy and understanding is the secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs. In this workshop, you will discover and practice techniques for understanding your user’s needs. More details.

3. Panel: Redesigning School As We Know It

Why does school mean four walls, one teacher and 20 students? Ever had an idea for how to reinvent a school from the ground up? This panel will discuss how to design schools of the future that create opportunities for students and teachers to thrive. What are the frameworks for thinking about what is needed in a new school model? If you’re interested in designing personalized learning and competency-based education, then this panel is for you. Meet the panelists and find out where this event will be hosted

4. Edtech Community Builders Meetup powered by Edtech Austin

Leading edtech events, programs or organizations in your community? Looking to take the edtech scene in your city to the next level? Edtech community builders from around the world are gathering at SXSWedu to swap stories and share tactics. More details.

5. Happy Hour in partnership with EdsurgeHireEdu4.0 Schools, and New Schools Venture Fund

Free entry and free drink tickets, but you must RSVP here.

 

SXSWedu15_primary_date_city_72dpi_COLOR_WEB

 

A few of our Education Entrepreneurs Community Leaders are also hosting events:

Gaming the System: Teachers Hacking the Classroom, featuring Community Leader Courtney Francis

A growing number of teachers are creating games of all shapes and sizes for their own classrooms. They’re defying conventions in creative ways that inspire and engage students (and teachers!) to learn through game play. Let’s talk about what that’s like, and lead the way for other innovative teachers. We’ll share remarkable work, discuss the creation process and inspire one another to think like game designers. Learn how to create, adapt, remix, mash up and integrate games in classrooms. More details.

Building an EdTech Bill of Rights, featuring Community Leader Katrina Stevens

In this 2-hour, hands-on interactive session, we’ll use a design process to collectively create an “Edtech Bill of Rights” that suggests the responsibilities of different members of the EdTech ecosystem and fosters authentic partnerships. Goal is to facilitate dialogue among teachers, EdTech leaders, researchers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders, with a focus on educator voices, for the purpose of working together across the ecosystem on innovative ideas that will improve student learning. More details.

 

For more information about Education Entrepreneurs, visit our website.








The Final 48 Hours: Vote to Shake Up Education

Startup Education is the largest initiative in the world to provide year-round programming and resources dedicated to giving anyone, anywhere the opportunity to take action to improve education. SXSWedu is one of the most prominent conferences in the world focused on bringing people together to share ideas about fostering innovation in learning. Some say its a match made in education innovation heaven, and today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve submitted three proposals to present at next year’s SXSWedu conference. But we need your help!

30% of SXSWedu panel selection is based on public votes, which means your willingness to “thumbs-up” our proposals can mean the difference between new, action-oriented, and far-reaching approaches to improving education being shared, or the same ‘ol same ol’ narrative being told about the possibilities for education to evolve. We hope that our track record and vision going forward will inspire you to support our involvement in SXSWedu, but if that’s not enough, here are three key topics for discussion we’d like to add to the story being told at the conference:

  1. Edtech solutions, alone, will not transform education. Communities of people equipped with entrepreneurial skills, who are empowered to take action will transform education.
  2. A collaborative innovation process that involves multiple stakeholders, perspectives, and skill-sets is the best innovation process when it comes to improving educational outcomes.
  3. Creating the space to challenge what school traditionally looks like, feels like, and results in, spurs creativity and produces fresh ideas for designing improved models for learning.

Take Action: Place Your Vote by Friday, September 5th

Public voting officially ends Friday, September 5th. If you’re interested in helping us shake up the usual narrative about innovating education, and share the incredible grassroots work our Community Leaders around the world are doing to affect change, then complete these 3 quick steps:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.13.03 PM

 

Step 1: Create an account on SXSW Panel Picker. (If you already have one, skip to item #2 below)

  1. Click here to be directed to our SXSWedu proposal webpage.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner, select “Sign In.” You will be directed to a new page.
  3. On the Sign-In Page, select “Create Account.” Insert the required information, and your account will be confirmed.

Step 2: Vote for our three proposals

  1. Click on the links below
  2. On each page, select the “thumbs up” icon in the upper left-hand corner (Yes, you can vote for all three!)

Step 3: Share the opportunity

Know other people who want to shake things up?

Easily share this opportunity by clicking on the Twitter icons below:

 

Interested in checking out other SXSWedu panel submissions from Startup Education Community Leaders? See them highlighted here.

Want to learn more about Startup Education? Visit our website

Have comments or questions? Email startupeducation@up.co








Why An Edtech CEO Didn’t Go To SXSWedu

Some background: I’m the CEO and co-founder of Magoosh, a growing, profitable, edtech startup. We have a team of nearly twenty employees and are based in Berkeley, CA. We’re not cash-strapped (for a startup). Conventional wisdom says I should have gone to SXSWedu, but I made a conscious decision not to go. Here’s why:

1. Our customers aren’t there.

When you’re growing a startup, you need be where your customers are. We create test prep products for the GRE and GMAT, so our customers are potential grad students. Some of them are undergraduates, while others are in their thirties and forties looking for a career change. You might find them hanging out on college campuses, studying in coffee shops, or working nine-to-five jobs, but most likely they are not entrepreneurs, and most of them will not be going to SXSWedu. In fact, I’m guessing many of our customers don’t even know the education portion of the conference exists.

By the way, this is also the reason that getting TechCrunch press is overrated for most startups. Your customers aren’t likely to be reading TechCrunch, unless they’re technophiles or other startups. Go where your customers are — and if your customers aren’t other edtech companies, they likely won’t be at SXSWedu.

2. We’re in “do” mode, not “plan” mode.

Even though our customers weren’t there, there were other good reasons for going to SXSWedu, such as finding inspiration, and exploring and understanding macro trends. But at Magoosh, we get plenty of inspiration from our students, and we’ve been active in engaging with and voicing our opinions on the education news that affects us the most. We have a general plan for 2014 and a detailed one for Q1 and Q2. Everyone on the team currently has major projects underway. Going to SXSWedu for inspiration is a great idea when you’re planning out your year or you have the resources available to potentially tackle a big project, but we currently don’t fit into either of these categories. We’re fully booked, and we’re relatively — maybe foolishly — confident in our plans for this year. We’re in “heads down” mode, getting stuff done, and SXSWedu would have just been a distraction for us.

3. Serendipity does not have to happen at conferences.

There’s a notion that startup CEOs should manufacture serendipity. I agree wholeheartedly that serendipity is important, and that CEOs should spend time making new connections with people outside the office, since connections you make today could be incredibly helpful several years down the road. That said, I’m very cautious about how I spend my time away from the office. We’ve had several full-timers and part-timers start since January of this year, many of whom are still getting ramped up, and I need to be accessible for them when issues arise. For now, I prefer to create serendipity by taking coffee meetings in the mornings or heading to networking events after work, so I can spend most of my days at the office helping remove obstacles for my team. When I’ve done a better job of making myself redundant, I’ll feel more comfortable heading out to a conference for a few days to manufacture serendipity.

The internet tells me SXSWedu was a great conference, but I have no regrets about not going. As a startup CEO, I need to ruthlessly prioritize my time, and this year SXSWedu didn’t make the cut. But maybe you’ll see me there next year. 🙂

Bio:

XdKeaWtAZP2uRq0ICychK79EfxQAd4yr8yny7_CkX5QBhavin is CEO and co-founder of Magoosh, a company that creates web and mobile apps to help students prepare for standardized tests such as the GRE and GMAT. He loves advising startups on growing their ideas and building great cultures. Years ago, Bhavin played on several Nationals-level ultimate frisbee teams. Now, he eats gelato. Follow him on Twitter here.