Downtrends in Education: SXSW EDU 2023, Part II

Continuing from our previous installment, “Scanning the Horizon at SXSW EDU 2023”, today’s segment focuses on some technologies and topics that seem to be down-gearing, at least in the education market. For context, the annual SXSW EDU conference typically serves as the most innovative, fresh, and predictive venue for envisioning the future of the ed-tech marketplace. This year, the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival will be held in face-to-face format in Austin, Texas from March 6-9, 2023. So what themes or technologies are constricting at SXSW EDU? Here’s my short list:

Straight-up technology innovation. It is quite clear that straight-up technology has secured a back-row seat at SXSW EDU this year: the number of sessions focusing on technology appears smaller when compared with session counts from previous years. Translation: less innovation, more activism at SXSW EDU. Maybe that’s intentional.

AR/VR/XR implodes. Since XR is a favorite topic at Display Daily, I would be remiss not to mention my observations in this arena. AR/VR/XR at SXSW EDU, remains on the decline, with fewer sessions being offered. Damaged by the pandemic, this topic continues its hellish spiral downwards at SXSW EDU (and other educational conferences). Interest in this topic remains miniscule.

No Meta…cognition. With all the recent hype in the press, one would expect a firm showing of Metaverse-related topics at SXSW EDU. It simply didn’t materialize. No bursts for Meta-anything in education. Just a whimper or two.

Virtually Shrinking. The conference darlings of the pandemic years—virtual, online and remote learning—have nearly disappeared from SXSW EDU. Where, oh where, have they gone? It seems as though virtual learning fatigue has firmly set in.

Socio-emotional Learning (SEL). SEL, a recent conference favorite, is also down, pretty much replaced by DEI socio-emotional perspectives.

Sometimes the folks missing at the dinner table, in their absence, seem to shout much louder than those who are actually seated. Thus, the ugly side of conference session analysis— topics and technologies that appear to be descending to new lows, losing critical attention bandwidth in the post-pandemic rush to normalcy—can also provide us with tremendous ed market  insight.