Get on with it: notes from a learning revolution-in-progress at SXSW Edu

Although we hosted TEDx Seattle in 2010, I don’t regularly seek out TED talks. However, here at SXSW Edu, Sugata Mitra’s Build a School in the Cloud from earlier this month was mentioned as “must-view” on multiple occasions. On top of that, he won the TED prize for his concept of the Self Organizing Learning Environment where “knowing is obsolete” and as he was admonished by a young girl that he should just “get on with it.”

Obsolescence, disruption, data and self-organization were recurring themes at this year’s SXSW Edu in Austin. When I attended last year, MOOC’s (Massively Open Online Courses) were just breaking big.

This year, they’re almost old hat as they’re being quickly integrated into visions of our immediate future. Where high school students can take university classes on the fly whenever they’re ready; where the industrial model of education is quickly breaking down without the need for teachers as the sage-on-the-stage; where schools need to enter into community-designed covenants with their students to foster an environment of mutual accountability.

Bill Gates at SXSW Edu
Bill Gates at SXSW Edu

As our graduate program in digital media and networked communication is ultimately about making and managing change in this era of “generation flux”, we obviously need to practice what we preach and remain as relevant and accountable to our community of learners as possible. That’s why my colleagues Anita, Scott and I attended this year’s SXSW Edu. I’m also keenly attuned to engagement and education as the father of two kids on the verge of primary school.

Austin featured so prominently in our first feature documentary film, Independent America with its pervasive energy of community self-sufficiency. That extends nicely into this event about the impending future of education.

Anita employed a wonderfully visual sketching technique in capturing the sessions. Here’s the one she created for Off The Shelf Education: Are Courses A Commodity?

by Anita Verna Crofts
by Anita Verna Crofts

Compare what Anita did with my notes for the same panel. I was far more pedestrian in my use of Evernote to publicly catalog the sessions that I attended, but they’re all here (and it’s easier than blogging!). The best ones include:

Disrupting Education: A Master-Apprentice Approach

“Blending” the University: Beyond MOOCs

Creating a New Culture of Teaching & Learning

Bill Gates’ Keynote

Now I move on to the Super Bowl of technology, attention and distraction that is SXSW Interactive (which I also affectionally call Tricorder Nation). I’m moderating a panel on the opening day Disaster: The Future of Crisis Communications. Join us!