Top EdSurge Higher Education Stories of 2020

Top EdSurge Higher Education Stories of 2020

By Rebecca Koenig     Dec 31, 2020

Top EdSurge Higher Education Stories of 2020

If you’re ready to charge into 2021 without a glance backward, we don’t blame you. But if you’re in the mood to reflect on 2020—oh what a year!—you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we give an encore to the most popular EdSurge higher education stories of the past 365 days. Some explore themes that were barely imaginable in January, like closed campuses and widespread Zoom classes. But others transcend the pandemic, like our assessment of a new income-share program and an article about why the political spotlight suddenly shined on community college retention research.

Thank you for reading, and happy new year.

Top 10 Countdown

10. College Leaders Must Explain Why—Not Just How—to Return to Campus. By Kevin R. McClure


Columnist Kevin R. McClure issued a challenge to college leaders this summer: Give us one good reason to risk student, staff and professor health to reopen college campuses during a deadly pandemic.

9. What Jill Biden’s Dissertation Reveals About Her Approach to Higher Education. By Jeffrey R. Young

Jill Biden

Incoming first lady Jill Biden is a professor at a community college—and she did her doctoral research about these open-access institutions, too. Here are the highlights of her thesis on retention at community colleges.

8. What Happens If Campuses Can’t Reopen in the Fall? By Jeffrey R. Young


It was the question of the spring and summer—and the answer is still developing. Bryan Alexander, an edtech futurist, weighed in during this EdSurge Live webinar.

7. Coronavirus Has Led to a Rush of Online Teaching. Here’s Some Advice for Newly Remote Instructors. By Jeffrey R. Young


Make online lessons shorter and be sure to record them, advised our higher ed teaching columnist Bonni Stachowiak in this primer on remote instruction designed for professors new to the idea.

6. He Paid Off Morehouse Grads’ Debt. Now Robert Smith Is Trying Income-Based Financing at HBCUs. By Tony Wan

Robert Smith

Education debt is a heavy burden for many Black students and their families. A new income-share program aims to be an alternative to loans for students studying STEM at historically Black colleges.

5. Burnout Is Coming to Campus. Are College Leaders Ready? By Kevin R. McClure

cartoon hamster

Between racist violence, mounting COVID-19 deaths and a bitter election, 2020 served up a ceaseless cycle of troubling news. Add in our society’s stigma against taking breaks, and you’ve got a recipe for widespread burnout, wrote McClure in this widely shared column.

4. COVID-19’s Long-Term Impacts on Education in 2020 and Beyond. By Michael B. Horn


This year brought plenty of prognosticating about the possible consequences of the pandemic on education. But this op-ed by EdSurge columnist Michael B. Horn rose to the top. He shares his perspective on shifts coming at the intersection of K-12, college and workforce training.

3. Is Learning on Zoom the Same as In Person? Not to Your Brain. By Stephen Noonoo

illustration of girl

Why are video calls making us so tired? This popular episode of the EdSurge Podcast taught us the science behind “Zoom fatigue.”

2. What Students Are Doing Is Remote Learning, Not Online Learning. There’s a Difference. By Ryan Craig

illustration of Zoom

Criticism of the emergency virtual classes that colleges spun up in the spring prompted practitioners of carefully devised online learning programs to rise to the defense of their discipline.

1. Holding Class on Zoom? Beware of These Hacks, Hijinks and Hazards. By Tony Wan


Remember back before you first heard of “Zoombombing”? We don’t either. But in March, it was a scary new concept, and EdSurge offered this assessment of the dangers that can accompany remote learning.

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