In Austin at SxSWedu, I was asked to participate in 2 concurrent sessions back-to-back. I’ve already blogged the first, called “TheirSpace: Educating Digitally Ethical Teens,” a reflective presentation of 5 years spent talking with middle school students about media, identity and youth.

The second session was a panel – and one of the most intense rooms I’ve ever been in at an educational conference. The topic was “Redefining Data-Driven” – what information is captured about students and how it is used. In the days before SxSWedu started, Pearson called the session one of “Four…SXSWedu Sessions You CANNOT Miss,” and Marisa at edGeeks.com kindly called us out in her article, “Top 10 Things I Can’t Wait For at SxSwedu.”

The session was packed: people sitting in the aisles & standing at the back of the room…at one point an usher was posted outside the room barring entrance. Attendees were a mix of educators, journalists, policy makers, statisticians and edtech entrepreneurs.

Within 10 minutes, people were deconstructing the stakeholders involved in the US current educational system. Within 25 minutes, audience members were volleying questions back and forth across the room. By the 45 minute mark, the room had backed all the way up to some fundamental questions that shape our beliefs about learning: can society agree upon common set of learning objectives, what does learning look like in the 21st century, how should data be used to maximize the benefit for students?

Description from the SxSWedu website:

Ever since NCLB cemented the idea of standardized testing as the holy grail of accountability, teachers have struggled to figure out how to leverage data to improve instruction in the classroom. The problem is twofold: First, test data is but one type of data that can help a teacher adapt instruction. Second, standardized test data is not available when the teacher needs it most, in real time. By the time teachers receive standardized test data, those students have moved on to the next grade. This talk will describe the varieties of data a teacher can capture in real time and offer a framework for ensuring that the data captured is meaningful and actionable for both teachers and students.


Amy Lin kindly captured the experience via a variety of social media and posted the archive online.


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