Author Archives: Sue Beckingham

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.

An update from the retrospective blogger… #sxswi

South By Southwest was without doubt an amazing experience which provided an opportunity to learn so much from the good and the great there. It was also the most daunting conference I have ever been to. From the minute the event kicks off it is non stop action with a multitude of choices to be made. If only I could have been in more than two places at once I would have been spared the dilemma of worrying about which of the 450 panels and 54 workshops to choose and what I would miss out on if I made that choice! There is also an element of being the new kid on the block and not knowing the format or the layout of the venue, which given the sheer size really takes some getting used to. With 14251 participants at the event it was easy to get lost in the crowd!

Below is a visual respresentation of my experience at South by, which I hope captures a feel for where it took place and also an overview of some of the key things I came across that I feel were valuable to me. I will be writing up in more detail about the sessions I attended along with the conversations I had in future posts.

I must add at this point that I have a great respect for all you bloggers who are able to put ‘pen to paper’ and where the ink flows easily. Personally I’ve found that I need time to step back and reflect before I can write. Maybe as a novice blogger I need more practice. Well I’ve got plenty of material to go on so just watch this space!

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in SXSWi


The start of SXSW

Friday was the official start of South by South West, SXSW or as it is known Southby. I had great intentions of coming back to my hotel room and blogging each evening, but the need for sleep seems to take over! I must have walked miles the last few days. The Austin Convention Centre (ACC) covers 881,400 square feet, has five exhibitions halls, 54 meeting rooms and two ballrooms. Yet this is still not enough space to house this huge event. Panels and sessions are also being held in another half a dozen hotels, scattered over downtown Austin.

Austin Convention Center

Day 1
I was up early scanning tweets and established that the hotel shuttle buses were starting pickups from 8.30am. The route to the ACC was going to be busy. Think M25 rush hour plus extra lanes. The I-35 is a busy route in to downtown Austin. Seems the shuttle bus company didn’t take this in to account as a small group of us were waiting half an hour for it to arrive. That said it was a nice opportunity to get chatting to a few people who were also going to SXSW. Social media in one way or another was a major part of their jobs. One guy from Newcastle was touring the US to promote his start up ‘ScreenReach Interactive Ltd’. They have developed an app which allows the user to interact with live voting, polling, interactive tours, multi player games, quizzes; and allows you to check in to the experience and the location. This means you can share the experience with others too. Already my brain was ticking and thinking about how this might be used for induction activities at SHU! I’ve got Sam’s card so we will be talking more about this.

I attended three sessions and will come back to give a fuller account of each. For now here are the titles:
Death of the textbook, emergence of games; The potential of augmented reality for education; and Education 2.0: How social media drives your child’s success.

The choice of sessions is huge. Here is a pic of the conference guide. It’s like carrying a copy of yellow pages around!

SXSW Guide

Day 2
I attended a brilliant session by Rey Junco on Using Twitter to increase college engagament and was invited to a tweetup with Student Affairs Professionals. This brought together many of the great people I have been following in relation to the work they are doing in higher ed using social media. I’ll be meeting up with some of them again over the next week to talk in more depth. Again more to follow shortly.

In between sessions is non stop as I meet up with so many interesting people. I just need some time now to write it all up in more detail and the right location at the time with free wifi with a decent speed!

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in SXSWi


Arrived in Austin, Texas

I arrived in Austin at lunchtime and checked in to the hotel (eventually… slight confusion with the booking payment, but blip very professioanlly handled and resolved by the hotel manager). This will be my base for the next five days whilst I attend the SXSW Interactive conference.

My budget hotel is a bit out of the way (7 miles from the Austin Convention Centre (ACC) where the conference will take place), however the room I have been given is spacious and comes with a lounge, kitchenette, good sizes bedroom and bathroom. Free wifi is included and complimentary ground coffee (a real coffee machine) plus microwaveable popcorn!

This afternoon I took a cab downtown to the ACC and queued up to get my badge and conference bag. The venue is HUGE! Now armed with a map and printed session guide, I had a wander around in preparation for tomorrow. I’m going to be doing a great deal of walking over the next few days, that’s for sure. Having got my bearings I headed back to the hotel.

Conference bag

I’ve since spent a quiet evening finalsing my choices for the sessions on offer. Tomorrow I look forward to not only attending the conference but also meeting new people there.

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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Austin, SXSWi


San Antonio, Texas

Arrived in SA Sunday evening after a long journey and very little sleep…

I left Sheffield at 4.45am (having only had three hours sleep) to get to Manchester airport for an early check in. I flew from Manchester to Newark, NY and then took a second flight on to San Antonio, Texas. Despite a small delay I landed about 6pm CST (Central Standard Time). Texas is six hours behind the UK, so my body clock was telling me loud and clear it was past midnight. Fortunately having taken the internal flight, I’d already done customs so it wasn’t long before I’d got my luggage and I was on my way to where I was staying. I managed to stay awake for a few more hours with the hope that if I did so I could slip easily in to the new time zone. 

Luckily for me I’ve been able to take the last couple of days to aclimatise and was pleasantly surprised to find that cloudy starts to the day soon become glorious sunny afternoons. However warmer climes often come with a catch and since finding out that here in San Antonio there are black widow spiders, scorpions and rattle snakes, I shall be keeping a close eye open for anything that moves!

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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in San Antonio


Getting prepared for my #SoMeinHE Study Tour

It’s hard to believe that in 24 hours time I will be in Texas! The date has come round so fast and today has gone by in a flash.

Well I’m all packed and have weighed my case (which thankfully is within the limit). Hand luggage also packed with notebook (paper and electronic), Ipad, camera, flipcam, batteries and chargers. Checked I have my passport, print of e-ticket and other forms I need.

Will try and get a few hours sleep now but I will be back soon to tell you more about why I am going to Texas.

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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Journey