EdTech Times’ Best of 2017: Looking Back On Our Top Stories of the Year

As we look back on the past year, a lot has happened. Trump became president, and Betsy DeVos became secretary of education. Six (six!) superhero movies were released. Beyoncé had twins. The #MeToo movement took over social media, and earned “The Silence Breakers” a spot as Time’s Person of the Year.

Many media outlets have been doing a great job of covering these news stories, with minute-by-minute updates of criminal investigations and baby name speculations. But while the news today happens fast (and celebrity reputations change even faster), some stories stick with us for years, or even decades.

This year, we decided to do a deep-dive into a few specific topics in education, combining a variety of perspectives on each to create a complete picture of the state of education today. While we weren’t covering every time an edtech startup was funded or a celebrity advocated for education, we were able to get some pretty thorough perspectives on student debt, cloud technology, the classroom of the future, and what it’s like to be a teacher.

So if you want to get an idea of what we’ve been up to this year, here are a few of the favorites of our readers and staff from 2017.

EdTech Times Best Stories of 2017

Student Loan Debt: How (And What) Are Students Paying for College?

According to a 2017 Experian report, national student loan debt has now reached 1.4 trillion dollars, affecting over 44 million borrowers across the country. According to the Federal Reserve, 10% of those borrowers are behind in loan payments.

To get to the bottom of what people are calling the “student debt crisis,” we put together a podcast series, “Challenges and Solutions for Student Financial Aid & debt.” To kick off the series, we started with the challenge—how to pay for college. Listen in to the podcast and watch the video to find out how students today are paying for college.


Redefining the Classroom: What Does the Future of Education Look Like?

School. Campus. Student. You probably have some specific images of a schoolhouse, or sprawling university campus, or a child-aged pupil wearing a backpack, chattering away with friends…. in English.

But as you’ll hear today, teachers, administrators, and educational innovators are looking for new mediums, locations, and methods to serve all sorts of students. Listen in to find out how.

Transforming Higher Ed with Cloud Technology: Smoothing the Transition to the Cloud

Since the ’90s, cloud computing has evolved and made its way into organizations and industries of all types, including higher education. In the series, Transforming Higher Ed with Cloud Technology, we spoke with higher ed tech leaders, companies providing cloud-based solutions, and consulting organizations to find out how the cloud is transforming higher ed, and what schools need to do to implement cloud technologies.

In this first episode, we speak with technologists from Huron who specialize in cloud transformation for higher ed. Listen in to find out how higher ed administrators can smooth the transition to the cloud.

Teacher Voice Episode 1: Teachers Give a Snapshot of the First Day of School 

Every fall, teachers across the country step into their classrooms and prepare for that first day with their students. Before that new class of students walk into that room, there are all sorts of thoughts, anxieties, and other feelings swelling in the mind and body of a teacher.

This year, we caught up with a crew of teachers in their classrooms—15 minutes before the kids come pouring in—to ask them to share what they’re feeling. Their notes from that first day of school will make up the first few episodes of our “Teacher Voice” podcast series, in which we will share untold stories from teachers around the globe. Listen in to the first episode to hear their thoughts, feelings, and observations from the first day of school.

Designing the Classroom of the Future: Interview with Brooke Trivas & David Damon of Perkins + Will

When you think of what makes up a classroom, you may think of desks, pens, blackboards, whiteboards, maybe even SMART boards. But spend an hour at the architecture firm of Perkins + Will, and it’s clear that there’s much more to a classroom than the furniture.

How is the architecture firm planning for next generation classrooms? To find out, we interviewed architects from Perkins + Will about the innovative classrooms they and their firm have designed to prepare students for the future.

What’s Causing Student Debt? Lasell College President Michael Alexander Breaks It Down

Today we’re talking about something that affects 44 million people across the U.S. today: student debt.

But is student debt really the problem? According to Michael Alexander, President of Lasell College, it may be merely a symptom of a greater problem. Listen in to Michael Alexander’s interview to find out what he, as a college president, thinks is the root of the problem.

Is the Future of Higher Ed Online, or on Campus? Interview with Peter Stokes, Managing Director of Huron

Picture a big, beautiful college campus: Dorms dotting the landscape, students rushing across the quad. But it’s 2017. With the rise of online schooling and other hybrid, unconventional forms of higher ed, the college experience has changed immensely.

To capture a snapshot of this evolution, we had Jake Murray from Boston University’s School of Education sit down with Peter Stokes, Managing Director at Huron. Listen in to hear Peter’s insights on how the campus experience may or may not change and how universities can adapt to the ever-changing edtech climate.

Reinventing McGraw-Hill Education: CEO David Levin Talks New Connect Program, Company Changes

McGraw-Hill Education is a company amidst a big transformation. It is rediscovering its soul and its roots — at least according to David Levin, the president and CEO of the publishing giant. Since taking on the role of president and CEO at the company, Levin has committed to continuing McGraw-Hill Education’s transition from a conventional educational publisher to a comprehensive digital learning company.

We sat down with Levin to further discuss McGraw-Hill Education’s evolution as a company and its goals for the future. Listen in to the interview to learn more.

The $50 Million Purdue-Kaplan Deal: What It Means for Kaplan, Purdue, and EdTech













In efforts to expand its reach to more nontraditional students and to make itself present in the online education market, Purdue University, a public institution in Indiana, bought Kaplan University — a for-profit online college owned by Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Company — on April 27.

In the deal, Kaplan University’s students, programs, 15 campuses, and academic staff of just over 2,100 employees will become part of Purdue. Read the full story to find out what this means for Kaplan, Purdue, and the relationships between edtech companies and universities across the country.

Youth Social Media and Smartphone Use: A Problem or Tool for Good?













Social media and smartphones are omnipresent and powerfully influence our lives. Our current president reaches millions, stirs emotions, and ignites national debates with every Tweet he posts. Celebrities, such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Beyonce, hold sway over tens of millions of followers. Every social issue, political movement, business, and nonprofit uses social media strategies of some kind to promote their ideas, causes, services, and products.

What does social media—and wide access to social media through smartphones—mean for American youth? Are they a net-positive or negative to youth development and learning? Contributor Jake Murray from the BU School of Education shares his perspective on the debate.

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.