SXSWedu 2018: Learning Space Genius Bar

By room2learn

Remember the last time your iPhone shut off suddenly, or your MacBook started bugging out? What did you do? Chances are you probably hauled yourself over to the nearest Apple store and got support from their Genius Bar.

But what happens when your principal suddenly springs “project-based learning” on you? Or when fidget spinners suddenly start showing up with your students to class? Who do you go to, then, for help?

Here at room2learn, we may not be able change your principal’s mandate or get rid of fidget spinners altogether, but we can certainly show you examples of project-based learning spaces or share design hacks to keep those fidgety hands active. If you weren’t already planning to attend this year’s SXSWedu Conference and Festival, here is your reason: the world’s first Learning Space Genius Bar!

You heard right. room2learn will be hosting a 3-hour summit dedicated to you and your space challenges. Whether you’re a teacher looking to try out flexible seating, a principal hoping to transform your library into a media commons, or a district leader trying to prioritize facilities changes, we’re here to help you begin redesigning your learning space.

Who are the Geniuses and how can they help me?

We’ve scoured the country to bring you the best of K-12 Learning Space expertise — architects, educators, and educational planners who bring decades of experience and expertise working with K-12 schools and districts. Learn more about our Geniuses here. They bring a wide range of expertise, and are here to answer questions like: how do I begin a community planning process?; what kind of furniture works best for my classroom?; or when do I need to hire an architect?

How do I participate?

The Genius Bar is happening on Wednesday, March 7, 11:00am — 2:00pm in Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown. You can sign up now to reserve a 20-minute appointment with one (or more) of our Geniuses. Drop-ins are welcome too. Simply sign in with us at the welcome desk and get matched with an available Genius.

What should I bring?

The more visual you can get with your question or challenge, the easier it will be for a Genius to give you concrete advice. If you’re a teacher working through a classroom challenge, maybe snap a few pictures of your room to share. If you’re mid-way through a design process, feel free to bring along some design concepts or blueprints. You can either upload these when you sign up online, or bring paper or digital copies in-person. There will be wifi at the conference. Plus, we will have plenty of chart paper and prototyping materials for you to capture ideas while in conversation!

What if I don’t have a specific question?

There will be a Browsing Bar in the room where you can get inspired and learn more about how design impacts learning. We will have laptops for you to access design inspiration, books for you to browse, and prototyping materials for you to build and draw as you please. Our team will be documenting the conversations and sharing learnings on this blog, so stay tuned.

I can’t wait! How can I prepare for the session?

We suggest browsing the room2learn design database for ideas that other schools and educators have tried. It’s free to sign up for an account. You can save rooms to your profile, which you can later revisit and show to your Genius. Twenty minutes isn’t a long time, so think beforehand about one particular question you’d like help on, and gather materials that can help you describe your challenge. Plus, be sure to check out the Learn By Design competition, happening the day before, for even more ideas!

This all sounds great, but I won’t be able to attend SXSWedu this year. Can I still participate?

We still want to include you in the fun! If you have a specific challenge in mind, drop us a line at or Tweet us at @HackClassrooms and one of our team members will be in touch. Also, be sure to subscribe to the room2learn newsletter to receive weekly insights on learning space design.

We can’t wait to dig into your design challenges and come up with creative solutions with you. See you in Austin!

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