SXSW Edu kicks off this week with focus on technology in classrooms

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Learning and technology, that’s what many can expect at this year’s South by Southwest EDU.

The week-long conference kicks off Monday and it’s a chance for educators and school leaders to share ideas and implement them.

At ShadowGlen Elementary School, students are immersed in technology and use iPads and laptops on a daily basis. They also have robotics clubs and access to learning coding skills.

It’s not just a part of school life, students say they use technology at home as well. 

“I watch YouTube videos,” said one student.

Another added they spend time calling and texting, while another student said they like to “play games and I also watch Minecraft videos.”

As far as learning goes, fifth-grader Clark Mitchell said, “I think it helps us learn more than paper, pencil, paper, pencil.”

However, with new devices and upgrades constantly being released, bridging the technology gap can sometimes be a little challenging.

“Apple is always coming out with new products, which is great but at the same time it’s more expensive for the school district,” Wendy Boatright said. “For example, our school is only four years old and (the broadcasting club) equipment was outdated within three years.”

Yet, for every obstacle, the district finds a solution.

“We find workarounds,” Jacob Luevano, one of the district’s instructional technology specialist. “If a teacher needs a certain application or idea they have like, ‘Oh I want my students to be able to film themselves.’ If they don’t have the equipment for that will try to provide at least one or two devices that can help them get their project finished.”

District officials say as technology advances, they’ll continue to do their best to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

“Slowly we’re trying to refresh that and hopefully with upcoming bonds, we can outfit our district in little better,” Luevano said. 

District’s superintendent Dr. Royce Avery will be on a panel at SXSW EDU Wednesday discussing networking and systems in New Tech Schools. 

The district goes every year and teachers say the best part of it is being able to connect and mingle with other schools across the country working to do the same — incorporate technology. 

Austin Independent School District is also taking part in some of the panels this year including a discussion on how schools can use technology to help them improve the safety and wellness of students at schools.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz will take part in a panel this week that explores why every student does not have access to the same education.

To take a look at SXSW Edu’s full schedule click HERE.

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