SXSWedu 2017 proved to be very different for me from past years when I spent my sessions learning about the newest technology solutions, implementation practices and latest instructional innovations. There were still plenty of those opportunities this year, but this time I was drawn towards the many sessions on how instruction must evolve to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students, who continue to be on the wrong side of the opportunity gap.

Particularly compelling was the concept of “unlearning” mindsets, habits and entire systems that are no longer serving our students – presented by a team from Harvard Graduate School of Education and Beaver Country Day School. What this means, is that everyone plays a role in the education of students, including the students themselves who need to unlearn the old ways of “doing school” in order to become authentic learners and achieve mastery.

I was also struck by a session led by representatives from the New York City Department of Education who are leading the nation in rolling out competency based learning, tightly coupled with culturally responsive education practices. It was immediately clear to me that one cannot be successful without the other, and that the marriage of the two are likely to serve students very well.

All of this means that I must do my job very differently in the future. While the conversation during our “Systems Integration: Whose job is it anyway?” panel, which also included Ed-Fi president Troy Wheeler, focused on the challenges of interoperability in today’s education system – it’s clear that we will have new challenges very soon as student data continues to evolve. And I look forward to that challenge!

Megan Marquez, Director, Product and Performance Management, Denver Public Schools

“I am currently in an amazing role that allows me to combine my passion for education with my product development skills”