How do you capture what it feels like when a pandemic forces educators to suddenly try new approaches to teaching to keep learning going while being safe?

One of the most powerful ways we found this year was by using a microphone when we heard students, teachers, professors, innovators, and writers discuss how to use it and share heartfelt advice.

Every week we released a new episode of our EdSurge podcast. For a few weeks we spoke to well-known thinkers, including bestselling author Dave Eggers, YouTube education star and novelist John Green, and math software pioneer Conrad Wolfram. But with our eight-part series of the Pandemic Campus Diaries, we also heard reports from sometimes difficult students and teachers on site.

Below are the 10 episodes that listened to the most responses in 2020. If you’ve missed any of these episodes, or want to follow us as we snap the mic in 2021, please subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

10. Researcher behind the 10,000-hour rule says good teaching is not just about practice

One of the breakout ideas highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” is that it takes at least 10,000 hours of intense practice to master complex skills. We spoke to one of the researchers whose educational research forms the basis of this theory, Anders Ericsson, and he clarified what he sees as a misunderstanding of his work. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the last interviews Ericsson gave: he died in June at the age of 72.

9. Howard Gardner on his multiple intelligences theory and lessons for the COVID-19 era

Another long-time education researcher we looked at this year was Howard Gardner, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He talked about how his theory of multiple intelligences is more relevant than ever as educators adapt to teaching during the pandemic.

8. Coronavirus has led to an onslaught of online classes. Here is some advice for newly removed instructors

Back in March, when the first school and colleges closed due to COVID-19, people started looking for teaching experts, especially those who had previously taught online. That’s why we asked our teaching columnist Bonni Stachowiak for her tips and instructions.

7. “Get Off the Hook”: Advice for Teachers and Parents during COVID-19

The educators also had emotional issues during the pandemic. And it got a response when a Common Sense Media editor urged educators and parents to get a little off the hook, as these are unprecedented times and no one can be expected to handle it perfectly.

6. How do you prepare for a pandemic semester? Campus Diaries Series Episode 1

During the fall semester, we followed the stories of students and professors in six locations who submitted audio diaries. The opening episode of our series in August described the preparation and worries when Plexiglas barriers were installed in classrooms and classes switched to online formats.

5. What do K-12 schools look like after the coronavirus?

From the earliest days of the pandemic, there has been a feeling that things are not going to be completely “normal” again. Simon Rodberg, former headmaster of the charter school and author of a new book on school leadership, set out his predictions of what K-12 schools might look like after social distancing ends and people are rethinking what to expect from school systems after the pandemic.

4. What a forgotten 1960s fad reveals about teaching

Have you ever heard of PSI or the personalized teaching system? It was a household name as early as 1960 and was introduced to colleges across the country. Today it is largely forgotten. A college historian explains what it was, why it failed, and how it anticipated some of today’s adaptive learning systems.

3. Reading, writing and … AI skills? Conrad Wolfram wants to “repair” mathematics education

The pandemic has emphasized the need for math skills. However, Conrad Wolfram, co-founder of Wolfram Research Europe, argues that our educational systems have done a terrible job preparing us to live in a world where numerical calculation like this is more important than ever and suggested a better way to go.

2. A professor known for making viral videos gives advice on teaching online

Millions of people have watched educational videos that anthropology professor Michael Wesch posted on YouTube. Our listeners perked up when he joined us on the podcast for tips on how to video connect with students.

1. Is zooming learning the same as personal learning? Not to your brain

Zoom fatigue is real. Psychologist Brenda Wiederhold made the case in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. And more than 12,000 listeners tuned in to learn why video calling made them more tired – even exhausted – than a day of face-to-face classes or meetings.


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