This year, the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) will be sending five students on a non-traditional spring break to the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, held March 10-15.

“We are very excited to be taking five exceptional students from the iSchool to experience SxSW,” said iSchool Online Social Communication and Relationship Manager Kelly Lux. “This conference is where the innovators, influencers, movers, and shakers of the tech world congregate, and having our students be a part of that dynamic atmosphere and the connections they will make will be invaluable for their future in the industry.”

The five students, Dave Chenell G’12, Eric Cleckner G’12, Alyssa Henry G’12, Meghan Dornbrock G’12, and David Rosen ’11, will accompany Lux and iSchool Assistant Professor of Practice Anthony Rotolo to the five-day conference, consisting of more than 1,000 panels, presentations, workshops, and social gatherings.

To be considered, each student had to enter a contest by writing a blog post for the iSchool blog, Information Space, explaining why they wanted to attend the festival and why they deserved to be chosen by a panel of judges. Rosen wrote a joint a post with Henry that attracted the attention of Dennis Crowley, CEO of the location-based social network Foursquare. Chenell and Cleckner, the student entrepreneurs behind Grafighters and, took the non-traditional route and created an infographic together. Dornbrock, a library and information science graduate student, wrote about how she hopes to attend panels discussing Internet accessibility, especially for the visually impaired.

“I am excited to learn for industry experts at the SxSW conference,” Rosen said. “I’m looking forward to expanding my learning outside of the traditional classroom and sharing those experiences with the Syracuse community.”

The posts were judged based on the attention they received through comments, likes, and tweets, as well as how well written and thought out they were. Although the contest initially stipulated that four students would attend, the three posts were so close together in score that it was impossible for the judges to only select four winners.

As part of the trip requirements, the students will be blogging and tweeting throughout their stay in Austin.

“We’ll be updating the SU community throughout the week using social media so everyone can be a part of this amazing experience,” Henry said. “We plan on sending tweets from our personal twitter accounts using hashtag #SUxSW, so SU community can follow along. We’ll also be posting to the iSchool blog, checking in on Foursquare, and I’ll be updating my personal tumblr ( account as well.”

“I am delighted to again be supporting our winning students’ trip to SxSW,” iSchool Dean Elizabeth Liddy said. “I look forward to following them on Twitter & FourSquare from Austin. Going by what we heard from last year’s winning attendees, it will be a truly memorable experience.”