DEC. 19, Afternoon


Think Tanks

Think Tanks are large group discussions designed to bring together experts – including all festival attendees - to tackle the big issues in the learning ecosystem.  Perspectives brought together include research, policy, investment, technology, and practitioner. We catalyze each Think Tank with some thought leaders, but need your expertise as well!

Discussions are moderated by leaders in the media to help mediate and “report out” recommendations for the ecosystem.



  • Games, Learning, Kids — Panacea or Pandora’s Box?
  • What’s Working (And Not) In Higher Ed?
  • K12 and Ed Tech: What We Have Here Is A “Failure To Communicate.”
  • Corporate Learning:  Same As It Ever Was?
  • Importing & Exporting Education; Why And Why Not?
  • AI, Big Data, & Personalized Learning Or Just Plain-Old Common Sense? How Can We Improve Data-Based Decision Making From The Classroom To The Boardroom?
  • Will Adult Students Save Higher Ed?
  • Is the Lack of Efficacy Evidence the “Fake News” of Ed Tech?

Games, Learning, Kids — Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

We’ve heard the hopes and fears around kids, screen time, mobile devices, and learning. We’ve collected a highly qualified set of experts to ponder:

  • Is technology improving children's lives, or — as some fear — turning them into zombies?
  • Is there any real evidence one way or another?
  • Is it possible to have a viable business making high-quality digital materials?



Moderated by:

Warren Buckleitner
Children's Technology Review

What's Working (And Not) In Higher Ed

Question: Which is closer to the truth?

(A) American higher education is in a freefall, with most colleges and universities poised to be disrupted into oblivion by boot camps and made irrelevant by roboticization.

(B) American higher education remains the envy of the world, home to many of the best universities attracting the finest scholars and students on the planet.

Answer: Both are caricatures, and the reality is that higher education is not nearly as broken as many critics suggest, nor as viable as many college leaders pretend. In this engaging and challenging think tank, we will move past the simple narratives and provide a sophisticated look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the U.S. postsecondary ecosystem.


Doug Lederman
Editor & Co-Founder
Inside Higher Ed



  • Bob Johnson
    President & CEO
    The American College of Financial Services
  • Ted Mitchell
    American Council on Education
  • Ann Kirscher
    The City University of New York
  • Michael Hansen
    Cengage Learning

K12 and Ed Tech: What We Have Here Is A “Failure To Communicate.”

Why haven’t ed tech products had a transformative impact similar to industries like medicine, entertainment, and consumer tech? Providers and officials weigh in on how to position ed tech to also have the sweeping, large-scale impact on Americans’ lives other industries have had. Is the root cause of this failure the communication breakdown between technology providers and education officials? Or are other factors preventing this?




Sean Cavanagh
Senior Editor
Education Week


Corporate Learning:  Same As It Ever Was?

Learning at and for work involves more money and more learners than the formal K16 system, the environment is much less regulated than either K12 or higher ed, and the workplace adopted ed tech almost a generation before the formal system. That said, there has been less deal-flow in the corporate space than one would expect. What are the issues, opportunities, and obstacles in this space?




Lorri Freifeld
Training Magazine

Importing & Exporting Education; Why And Why Not?

In a knowledge economy nothing is more of a comparative advantage than education. Technology ought to open up learning to everyone. Yet while certain countries export education, the vast majority of ed tech is local. Why? Shouldn’t tech suggest scale and a flat world?



Bill Ridgers
Business Education Editor
The Economist

AI, Big Data, & Personalized Learning Or Just Plain-Old Common Sense? How Can We Improve Data-Based Decision Making From The Classroom To The Boardroom?

For the last twenty years, schools and districts have been challenged with using data in the best possible ways. Whether it’s assessments at the classroom level or operational decisions at the systems level, knowing what kinds of data to use for what purpose is never easy. Do we have too much data or not enough? Perhaps we don’t have the right kinds of data, or we just don’t know how to use it well.



Joshua P. Starr
PDK International Family of Associations

Will Adult Students Save Higher Ed?

Colleges are under increasing pressures in terms of revenue and tuition is the "goto" strategy; shifting demographics suggest that "non-traditional" students will continue to make up the large majority of college students. This is nothing new, but how much has higher ed “shifted” to meet this market and do they need to? Are they really different? Let’s explore how much have things changed in terms of business models, policy, pedagogy, and student services to meet these students needs. What are the opportunities? What are the obstacles. Join an eclectic group of folks grappling with these issues as we workshop these issues.




Goldie Blumenstyk
Senior Writer
The Chronicle of Higher Education






  • Gail Mellow
    LaGuardia Community College
  • Becky Takeda-Tinker
    Colorado State University - Global Campus
  • Iris Palmer
    Senior Policy Analyst
    New America | Education Policy Program
  • Dr. Colleen Allen
    Chief of Accreditation
    Joint Special Operations University
  • Ulrik Juul Christensen
    Executive Chairman
    Area9 Group
  • Jonathan Finkelstein
    Founder & CEO

Is the Lack of Efficacy Evidence the “Fake News” of Ed Tech?

Policy makers, schools, and solution providers spout statistics on efficacy and improved learning outcomes. Investors and Ed Tech entrepreneurs boast disruptive business models that can revolutionize learning. Are any of these claims accurate? Or are they hype? This engaging discussion will explore the claims, language and data that are used to describe success and failure in education technology. Whom and what can we trust? Why doesn’t the market care more about research? Do investors scrutinize the relevance of Internet metrics in the education marketplace? With billions of dollars pouring in to create new schools and Ed Tech products - where do we turn to separate hype from hope? Come join this think tank and workshop this problem.



Marquee Reception

Before you head out to dinner around New York City, join us at the marquee reception for NY EDTECH WEEK at the end of the day’s program. The reception will feature hor d'oeuvres, cocktails and networking among festival speakers and attendees.