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South by Southwest 2018: Reflections for e-Learn Magazine

By Alison Carr-Chellman / April 2018

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I am so happy to be reporting from the floor of another trade show. A couple of years ago it was my pleasure to start giving some innovative mixed media reporting from the floor of the CES conference and this year, eLearn Magazine was at the South by Southwest conference (SXSW for short). For those unfamiliar with SXSW, this is an amazing event that I can't recommend strongly enough. This conference always takes place in the springtime in Austin, Texas, and of course the place and the weather might be enough to convince most of us to attend, but this "conference," if you can call it that, spans from traditional sessions on a wide varied of tech-related topics from health, media, politics, all the way to live music and indie film screenings. It is similar to CES in that there is a large exposition floor with many tech companies represented, but it's far more artistic and smaller than CES. The SXSW conference includes a great deal of networking, in the form of "meetups" and mentoring sessions. There are plenty of parties and social activities as well in Austin during the week of SXSW. Since 1987, SXSW has been held in Austin. Today, SXSW represents itself as a conference and festival that celebrates, "the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery."

Just prior to the SXSW festival, is an education-oriented conference running the four days before the full start of SXSW. SXSW EDU offers a variety of sessions, activities, and a small hands-on "playground" where our reporting started on the last day of EDU. SXSW and SXSW EDU are open to industry insiders, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and press. SXSW EDU is focused almost exclusively on K-12, though there are some sessions that are focused on higher education. The SXSW EDU Playground is the hands-on space where interactive sessions are housed alongside industry displays of new tools and products for the K-12 marketplace.

We also spent time on the SXSW exposition floor where we were able to see many new technologies that are specific to creative industries like film, music, advertising, and other broad considerations of technology. The purpose of attending both shows was to get a sense of what kinds of tools are being advanced from a broad perspective that might have an impact on e-learning contexts. As we did with CES, we had to go outside the box to think about how some tools might work in an online setting. For example, we learned about some technologies that allow you to use beacons and build apps to go from place to place in augmented reality. Exemplified by something like Pokemon Go, this technology could be highly useful in a variety of e-learning settings such as learning about places in language courses, virtually learning about tree species in the Amazon, or moving through space on a moon or planet that has been explored.

The video series below represents conversations with innovators and creative developers about products and the ways they could be extended into an online learning space. Similar to our reporting from CES, sometimes the application to e-learning isn't obvious and other times it's very clear. Naturally, we found the cost of these innovations often cause there to be difficulties in adoption within e-learning where budgets remain relatively tight.

As we mentioned, alongside the SXSW show there are several smaller conferences including the "SXSW EDU," occurring prior to SXSW, and the "SXSW Gaming," which typically falls near the end of the conference. And of course, there are well-known artists and filmmakers who screen new films and perform.

What follows are several videos covering new ideas and technologies that are likely relevant for those in the online learning space. In some cases significant change would be needed in policies and identities to better effect strong implementation of innovations. These videos cover a lot of ground across various e-learning contexts. We hope you enjoy these snippets from SXSW 2018.

Live from The Playground at the SXSW EDU Pre-conference

Interview with Marcie Powell of Virtually Inspired

Report from the SXSW Floor Show

About the Author

Dr. Alison A. Carr Chellman is the Dean of the College of Education, Health & Human Sciences at the University of Idaho. She is a graduate of Indiana University in Instructional Systems Technology and has written numerous books, articles, and chapters on topics ranging from change, diffusion of innovation, gaming, instructional design, cybercharters and online learning.

Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for third-party components of this work must be honored. For all other uses, contact the Owner/Author.

2018 Copyright held by the Owner/Author. 1535-394X/18/04-3204441


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