SXSWedu: The Ideal Place to Launch Our Movement

In mid-December of last year, my firm was approached with the idea of launching the 9 Billion Schools movement at SXSWedu in Austin in early March. At that time, we were planning to launch in the summer, and late summer at that. But it occurred to us that SXSWedu was the ideal place to launch 9 Billion Schools, even if it meant undertaking a Herculean effort to prepare.

Why is SXSWedu so ideal? For one, it's an international event and the 9 Billion Schools movement is, by its very nature, intended to be a global movement (even if the first efforts are U.S.-centric).

In addition, some of the best and brightest minds in the education space gather at SXSWedu as presenters and attendees. Ours is a movement that is open to all and that actively seeks input and ideas from others about realizing the vision of learning that is unique as fingerprints and as long, wide and deep as life itself.

SXSWedu is also—like all things SXSW—steeped in things futuristic and technological. Realizing the vision of 9 Billion Schools will require technology and lots of it, of course. It will also likely involve technology that has yet to be imagined.

Lastly, SWSXedu is a high-energy convocation, where people with big ideas and big ambitions gather. The 9 Billion Schools movement desperately needs such people. In fact, it won't work without them. Without you!

If you're attending SXSWedu, please consider joining us for the launch of 9 Billion Schools on Wednesday, March 8, at 1 pm at the Hilton Downtown Austin, Salon B.

I promise you: It will be 30 minutes well spent. Plus, you'll leave with a free book.

We hope to see you there.


Dick Thomas, AIA NCARB, LEED AP is a vice president of architecture for SHP Leading Design, a firm that specializes in architecting and building learning spaces of all kinds. You can reach him at

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