From COVID-19 to calls for equity, and from new approaches to online learning to alternative pathways for postsecondary students, 2020 hasn’t been a year for embracing the status quo. Harnessing the year’s momentum toward innovation, the ASU-GSV free-to-attend conference will focus on “imagining a new era in which all people have equal access to the future” and urges attendees to become active participants in this new era. An added bonus for those happily sticking to pajama workdays and relishing the idea of not rushing from room to room to attend presentations? This year’s conference is entirely virtual.

Starting September 29 and going through October 1, 7, and 8—with over 500 speakers and 150 sessions—there’s certainly plenty to explore. However, some recommendations on which sessions and panels are particularly exciting may prove helpful.

As an organization that prides itself on identifying the innovations in education that hold promise to expand access and affordability for a greater number of learners, here are the five panels that piqued our interest:

1. Choosing College with Michael Horn and Bob Moesta

In this talk, Bob Moesta, who has created over 3,500 products that account for billions of dollars in sales each year, and Michael Horn, head of Strategy for Entangled and founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, will unveil insights behind their new book Choosing College and how entrepreneurs and educators can use their insights to design better products and services for learners. Learn more here. (Michael Horn will also be moderating a number of additional sessions, including “Innovation in Workforce ISAs” and “Global Consumer Attitudes about Online Learning A.D.“)

Study up: Get a quick glimpse into Choosing College‘s big takeaways and order the book on Amazon.

2. Fixing Higher Ed’s Broken Transfer System: A Pre-requisite for Equity and Innovation

Entrepreneurs and a long-standing education policy innovator will discuss what they’re doing to serve more students with higher quality learning and better outcomes. Ted Mitchell leads ACE, which is developing affordable, scalable solutions to college access, and Josh Pierce leads Acadeum, which seeks to unlock underutilized online resources across higher education to give every learner choice and opportunity. Learn more here.

Study up: For an in-depth look into what it would take to create a better transfer system for students, read our recent report “Creating seamless credit transfer: A parallel higher ed system to support America through and beyond the recession.

3. #Remote: Scaling Deeper Learning to Advance Equity

Advocates for deeper learning aim to transform school settings to better prepare students to meet 21st-century demands and to close the opportunity gap that has left socioeconomically marginalized students with less access to rich learning environments. Yet implementing these approaches and models, which emphasize inquiry-based, student-centered learning, is not easy, as they require reimagining and changing conventional systems and school environments. This panel will discuss these challenges and provide promising evidence that shows how leaders and practitioners are leveraging policies, professional learning structures, and partnerships to spread deeper learning within public school systems across the country. Panelists will also share how these challenges and opportunities have been altered in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and how their organizations have moved forward to advance equity and rich educational opportunities in an era of school closures and distance learning. Learn more here.

Study up: For Institute insights on designing for deeper learning during COVID and beyond, read “3 ways to design for equity in distance learning this fall.”

4. The Power of Career Development to Create a More Effective, Efficient, and Equitable System

This panel will explore the movement led by the Coalition for Career Development to transform the culture of education by making career development and readiness the first priority of American education. The existing educational paradigm, grounded in testing, has helped fuel the student debt crisis, a massive skills gap, and shrinking social mobility. The Coalition, whose Board includes more than three dozen government, business, and education organizations, believes high-quality career development is a far more promising solution. This session will explore how this approach is already informing the efforts of organizations including IBM, the federal government, a national education nonprofit American Student Assistance, and the Cajon Valley Union School District who have developed a globally recognized K-12 Career Development Curriculum “The World of Work.” Learn more here.

Study up: Get an insider view into Cajon Valley Union School District‘s World of Work and career-readiness strategy, and discover more cutting-edge K-12 and postsecondary programs building relationship-based bridges between students and employers.

5. The World Can’t Afford to Fail Online Education

COVID has caused millions of students and faculty to shift to online, blended, and hybrid learning at a breakneck pace. This rapid shift has highlighted the substantial impact of doing online well, and at the same time exposed the significant challenges in making it happen at scale. In this session, experts will discuss how they’ve driven deep, effective online education for decades. They’ll share their perspectives on the most promising developments in online learning and how educators can continue to harness them in a post-COVID world. Learn more here.

Study up: Explore a comprehensive resource guide to the blended-learning strategies that can help students and educators during the 2020-21 school year.  


  • Christensen Institute
    Christensen Institute