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Aurora Institute

SXSW EDU 2020 Sessions for Personalized, Competency-Based Learning

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Dr. Eliot Levine

Note: SXSW EDU 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19. The original post is below. We are so sorry that we didn’t get to see you in Austin.

If you’ll be at SXSW EDU next week in Austin, below is a curated list of some sessions that focus on big issues in our field and may be of particular interest to CompetencyWorks readers. We look forward to seeing you there!

Competency-Based, Personalized Learning

  • Aurora Institute Meet Up – Explore the new updated definition of competency-based education. Discuss strategies and resources for implementing competency-based, personalized learning more deeply, and meet others who are doing this work.
  • Igniting Classroom Practices with Learning Science – Educators need tools and supports to connect learning science principles to practice. Discover which learning science principles are most important for instruction, why, and free resources to learn more.
  • Pathways to Personalization: School Redesign – This session will help school leaders design personalized learning initiatives using the Highlander Institute’s framework to determine readiness, create a vision, launch and evaluate pilots, and scale best practices.
  • The Role of Student Activism in Schools – When students seek to solve social and political challenges, schools are often unprepared to manage students’ desire for action. This panel will discuss how schools can facilitate student agency and support social good.
  • Using PBL to Develop Critical Thinking – Critical thinking is an essential skill for college and career success. Explore a framework to engage in project-based learning activities to develop critical thinking, and explore technology tools that facilitate the process.
  • A New ‘Whole Child’ Era: Creating SEL Ecosystems – This panel provides guidance for creating a social-emotional learning ecosystem in schools to meet the concern of many educators that existing SEL initiatives are inadequate to meet students’ needs.


  • Acting on Inequity: Busting Bias & Upending Power – How are we as educators continuing to hold inequity in place? Walk through seven opportunities for change that can have a direct impact on your students and your school.
  • An America to Me “Real Talk” About Racial Equity – This session uses segments from the 10-part docu-series ‘America to Me’ to identify structural inequities in our schools. “Real Talks” create a much-needed space to talk about racial equity with your peers.
  • Decentering Whiteness in K-12 Schools – Educators will share stories about their journey to fight for the dismantling of white supremacy in K-12 schools. These talks will blend storytelling with resource sharing around actionable steps to support equity.

Community-Based and Extended Learning Pathways

  • Building Social Capital at Scale Through Internships – Learn from leaders who are implementing interest-driven high school internship programs at regional scale that contribute to academic skills, work readiness, developing social capital, and postsecondary success.
  • Choose Your Pathway: Extended Learning Opportunities – In New Hampshire, students have the opportunity to design their own learning experiences for high school credits. This workshop will provide tips for ELOs and projects you can take back to your schools.
  • Pathways & Connections to the World of Work – The demand for authentic learning experiences has accelerated. Speakers will share how their schools and organizations are managing partnerships for internships and exposing students to real-world career pathways.
  • Career Exploration: Expand Networks for Opportunity – Panelists will discuss strategies to tackle student’s network gaps by expanding access to mentoring, supportive relationships, and community-based learning that nurture student support networks.

Eliot Levine is the Aurora Institute’s Research Director and leads CompetencyWorks.

Follow @eliot_levine