Hacking SXSWedu 2016 & Austin, too!

New to SXSWedu and Austin? Or a seasoned attendee? Either way, dig into everything SXSWedu this March 7–10 right here in this guide from DreamBox Learning. Have a great time at the convention and in one of the great hipster cities of the U.S., whose unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird”—meaning cool and one-of-a-kind.

First things first: Still need to rent accommodations?

SXSWedu can put you in touch with available housing—you can email or call (512) 467-7979 and ask for the Housing Department. Other options are VRBO and airbnb—we recently found some terrific places still available for rent.
The forecast, what to wear, what to bring, and how to beat foot fatigue

Find more about Weather in Austin, TX
Click for weather forecast

Dressing in layers is a good idea because of the changeable weather, and in case of too-cool or too-warm conference rooms once you’re at the show. Bring a backpack or easy-to-carry bag for necessities like your ID and Badge Quick Code, pens and business cards, phone charger, water, sweater or windbreaker, laptop or tablet, a small umbrella, and cash. Since you will likely be moving around from early morning to late night, be sure to wear comfy walking shoes (and abandon your inner fashionista). Gel inserts can make a huge difference in your comfort level after a long day, too. Your feet will thank you for it!

Getting around

You can have someone drive you—in a pedicab!—or rent your own vehicle or bicycle. Or use Austin’s public transportation system, which is terrific and makes getting around easy and inexpensive.

Car services

Uber Austin
Lyft Austin


Yellow Cab – 512-452-9999
Super Shuttle – 512-258-3826
Lone Star Cab – 512-836-4900
Austin Cab Company – 512-478-2222

Car sharing
ZipCar – 512 – 291-7278


Capital Pedicabs – 512-448-2227
DirtNail Pedicab – 512-844-4444
Metrocycle Pedicabs – 512-825-1276
Red Devil Rides – 866-366-9666
Roadkill Pedicab – 512-300-3784

Grab a Bike

Austin B-cycle – 512-954-1665
Austin Bike Tours & Rentals – 512-277-0609

Austin Metro/Public Transportation

Austin rail and bus

Out and about in Austin

The map to everything downtown Austin

Whether you’re out on your own or with colleagues, a one-stop website to help you get around is the interactive map of downtown Austin by the Downtown Austin Alliance. It shows places to shop, dine, and drink, and more: Add it to your favorites.

Things to do

We know you’re here for SXSWedu, but if you are coming early or staying late, or just need a change of pace, consider getting out and about. You can see the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge Bats. Yes, that kind of bats. Located under the Congress Avenue Bridge at 100 South Congress Avenue. The bridge shelters the largest urban bat colony in North America! Between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats fly out near dusk. Best viewing dates are April through October. Or check out a fabulous planetarium. If you’re looking for unique shopping, the 2nd Street District has chic boutiques, wine bars, and coffee shops. Scores more ideas can be found at

Food trucks. Yes! Meals-on-wheels, austin-style

Austin is known for its music … and its food trucks. The unofficial count for food trucks in Austin is over 2,000! They are part of the culture, from cupcakes to Korean BBQ. Check out the latest food truck listings with many options in the downtown area at, complete with interactive map and the ability to hone in on just the type of local food truck grub you’re craving.

… can’t miss the music!

There are more than 250 live music venues in Austin! However, these 10 are cool, and downtown, close to the convention center:

  1. Fado: 214 W. Fourth St. / 512.457.0172
  2. Cedar Street Courtyard: 208 W. Fourth St. / 512.495.9669
  3. Lucky Lounge: 209 W. Fifth St. / 512.479.7700
  4. Frank: 407 Colorado St. / 512.494.6916
  5. Republic Live: 301 W. Fifth St. / 512.895.9567
  6. Speakeasy: 412 Congress Ave. #D / 512.476.8017
  7. The Elephant Room: 315 Congress Ave. / 512.473.2279
  8. Latitude 30: 512 San Jacinto St. / 512.472.3332 (no website, but happening!)
  9. Brass House: 115 San Jacinto Blvd. / 512.920.0449
  10. Lambert’s: 401 West Second St. / 512.494.1500

And now, learn about SXSWedu

For your convenience, here’s the link to the latest SXSWedu schedule:

Our general scheduling suggestion

Try to plan what you will see ahead of time, because with so many things to see and do, you can easily get sidetracked. Build in a block of time for some serendipity, too. Use the schedule planner to make your days exciting but not stressful; you can sign up here: In addition to sessions, build in some time to visit the Playground! The SXSWedu Playground is a casual learning space that fuels innovation and discovery by highlighting pursuits in maker, STEM, gaming, virtual learning, accessibility, arts integration, and more, through displays and engaging programming in the form of talks and hands-on presentations. Exact location(s) to be announced.

A SXSWedu pre-event for locals

Are you already in or near the Austin area? SXSWedu is teaming up with Thinkery and EdTech Austin to celebrate the local education community. Bring your friends and colleagues to learn more about SXSWedu and to learn about some of the Thinkery’s newest programs, including Focused Field Trips and Little Thinkers. Learn more here.

Get Social at eduSocial

It’s easy to stay in touch with colleagues, and new contacts, with eduSocial. Simply create an account. It’s easy to search for and message other conference attendees, as well as book or modify your hotel reservation. Get info and register here.

The DreamBox Learning first round of “Don’t miss” sessions and events

We’re interested in everything about education, but a few topics are top-of-mind right now: fulfilling potential, collection of data and its use in formative assessment, innovation and exploration, English Language Learners, the need for ongoing professional development, and how to provide greater equity for all in every sphere.

Fulfilling potential

Helping Different Kinds of Minds Solve Problems

Monday, March 7, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 noon, Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

Dr. Temple Grandin is amazing, inspiring, and always has fascinating insights and experience to share.
Sessions about data we can dig

A Data-Driven Culture: Who’s Behind the Wheel?
Monday, March 7, 5:00–6:00 p.m., Austin Convention Center Room 16AB

During this panel, learn how to drive with data, creating the culture needed to impact change in educators and students. Two of the panelists have penned white papers on this topic: Dr. Gregory Firn’s A New Math Classroom: Creating a Data-Driven Culture, and Sharnell Jackson’s Using Actionable Data to Personalize Math Learning.
New insights into innovation, edtech, and the future

Scaling in Education: Lessons from Tyton Growth50
Monday, March 7, 3:30–4:30 p.m., Austin Convention Center Room 12AB

The education sector is experiencing an epic period of excitement and investment, fueling vibrant entrepreneurial activity. The challenge for many is making the transition from start-up to scale, achieving broad-based awareness, adoption, and financial sustainability. CEOs of leading growth-stage companies, drawn from the Tyton Growth50, will share their lessons learned in driving scale and impact within their markets. Featured speakers include our CEO, Jessie Woolley-Wilson.

How to Think (and Learn) Like a Futurist
Wednesday, March 9, 9:30–10:30 a.m., Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

In this playful one-hour master class, Dr. Jane McGonigal will demonstrate the three most important techniques of future forecasting, while taking a tour of five of the most surprising potential futures for education in the next decade. The final 15 minutes of this session will be devoted to playing a collaborative future forecasting game that Jane has designed just for the SXSWedu community.

The meaning of equity

Opportunity Divide: Math as a Social Justice Lever
Wednesday, March 9, 3:30–4:30 p.m., Austin Convention Center Room 16AB

Opportunity gaps, especially those linked to mathematics, persist at all levels of education. Algebra has become the gatekeeper for a college education and ultimately, a career. Although the majority of Americans believe math is the most important academic subject, students drop out at higher rates when introduced to harder STEM subjects.

EdTech’s Blind Spot: Closing the ELL Equity Gap
Wednesday, March 9, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 noon, Austin Convention Center Room 12AB

ELLs are a growing yet underserved segment of the U.S. student population, and teaching these diverse learners presents unique and highly complex challenges. This panel brings together educators and industry experts to explore how digital tools can best serve ELLs. If you’re interested in learning about technology that does help ELLs, check out Six Strategies to Reach, Teach, and Close Math Gaps: For Latino English Language Learners in Elementary and Middle School by Dr. Tim Hudson.
Code: Debugging the Gender Gap is a film [showtimes yet unposted] Computer science touches almost every aspect of life, yet women are barely represented in a coding community urgently seeking more programmers. With humor and optimism, CODE explores how we reached this crossroad and charts a course toward a more balanced tech workforce delivering superior products designed by and for all. You can watch the trailer here.

To learn more about gender equity issues in education, read the white paper by Jessie Woolley-Wilson, Closing the STEM Gap for Girls.

Cutting-edge professional development

Brain Science and the Future of Teacher Training
Wednesday, March 9, 1:30–3:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Room 412

Glenn Whitman will cover the latest aboutMind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Science to enhance teacher quality and student achievement. Few teachers and school leaders understand how the brain learns and changes, but they are interested in models of school-wide integration of the principles and strategies of this science. TheCenter for Transformative Teaching and Learning, in partnership with university researchers and faculty, has developed a multi-tiered professional growth framework that workshop participants can use to inform, validate, and transform how they teach, and how each of their students learn.

Cultivating Teacher Readiness in Next Gen Learning
Wednesday, March 9, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 noon, Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G

What is thwarting the successful adoption and scaling of digital learning? Discover why MIT’s Office of Digital Learning and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s Academy of Teaching and Learning have joined forces to reimagine and cultivate teacher readiness to advance STEM and support next gen learning. Educators need and deserve new approaches to continuous development and renewal, performance assessment, and retention. It’s important to understand why the key to transformation in a rapidly evolving digital learning landscape is teacher engagement and teacher readiness. Featuring our CEO, Jessie Woolley-Wilson.

Have a resource or suggestion? Add your comments and we’ll use it in our next SXSWedu 2016 post!