“What’s Left For Humans?” and Other SXSW Ed. Thoughts

By Jason Tomassini — March 12, 2012 1 min read

The South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, is known as the epicenter for innovative thinking and emerging technology. Popular commercial technology like Twitter and Foursquare made their names here, but a lot of the discourse relates to education.

The question in the post title was asked Sunday by renowned computer scientist Stephen Wolfram during his presentation. The Marketplace K-12 blog wrote about the presentation, as part of its week-long coverage of SXSW.

Wolfram is the developer of Wolfram|Alpha, an answer engine that goes beyond search results to provide detailed statistical and visualized reports for queries (check out washing machines). Wolfram recently launched an education portal, with math course materials and interactive textbooks. In Wolfram’s model, computer systems can give students those facts, and then it’s up to the human mind to determine how to use those same systems to innovate.

Before you start fearing a pending robotic takeover, Wolfram thinks the answer to the question above is: More.

In general, a lot of the education content at SXSW, and the SXSWedu education conference that preceded it, focuses on education technology. Some highlights of the Marketplace K-12 coverage:

  • An interview with Neeru Khosla, co-founder of CK-12, the free, open-source digital textbook provider.
  • Highlights from the LAUNCHedu startup pitch contest for early-stage K-12 companies.
  • A closer look at Pearson’s e-textbooks for the iPad.

There’s lot of other stuff there and check back over the next few days for coverage of the remainder of SXSW.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.