Education Week’s Winning Online Summits

Two weeks ago I wrote about’s Zoom On In, a 20-minute virtual lunchtime session they do to focus on a specific topic. Last week, I’m told that they got 250 listeners signed on! Lesley Ellen Harris also co-presented a SIPA webinar about Zoom On In on Jan. 16. (Watch it here.)

Another SIPA member, Education Week, puts on a more elaborate show, but still free and with that same engagement goal in mind—with some profits mixed in.


“Education Week Online Summits are an ideal way for busy educators to access timely information about a range of critical issues in K-12 education easily by using their phones or desktops and integrating their learning directly into their usual workflow,” wrote Matthew Cibellis, director of programming, live & virtual events, for Education Week, in his 2019 SIPAward-winning entry last year.

“This cross-departmental partnership led by the editorial team’s deep, rich content in a multitude of K-12 areas provides learners meaningful continuing education from experts in the field and practitioners in schools,” Cibellis wrote.

The video-friendly Online Summits take place monthly—in fact , the next one, titled Getting Reading Right, occurs tomorrow from 1-3 pm. “In this online summit, Education Week reporters and their expert guests will discuss the science behind how kids learn to read, as well as explore original survey data on what elementary teachers and education professors know and believe about early reading.”

Here are some reasons for the Online Summits’ continued success.

Access to reporters. The Summit provides readers with a unique opportunity to interact directly with reporters, practitioners and experts. Attendees can participate actively as peers in reporter-expert-peer/peer conversations around niches within K-12 educational topic areas.

Comprehensive discussions. The topics are diverse and newsworthy because they come from editorial. For tomorrow, there are 11 speakers listed, with topics ranging from testing and assessments to literacy, social-emotional learning, and STEM education curriculum and instruction.

Discussion rooms. During the event, Education Week journalists and guests staff online “discussion” rooms on a host of topics within a broader niche. “Attendees” watch a livestreamed series of interviews with the reporters who “break it down” for them.

Takeaways. Who doesn’t love takeaways? The livestream provides key takeaways, learnings and insights that participants can download in pdf form.

A 30-minute video wrap-up. After the 90-minute topic discussions, there is a 30-minute wrap-up hosted by Education Week editorial folks. For the one tomorrow, associate editor Stephen Sawchuk will “close out the day with insights from the discussions they’ve had with you, the readers.”

Editorial people get positive exposure. The Online Summits provide a showcase for Editorial Week’s newsroom expertise and the deep, rich content knowledge they provide. By lifting the profiles of editorial people, it gives them more gravitas and followings for the rest of the work they do. People might want to attend in-person events just to meet them or subscribe to read their articles.

Low costs. Costs are limited to the platform itself, which is also used to produce their online job fairs, as well as the staff time necessary to produce the event, carry out discussions and respond to reader questions.

It’s unique. Education Week says that audience members would be hard-pressed to get this type of online learning experience in their field anywhere else—and especially for free.

They make money. The model has been “so profitable” for Education Week that their newsroom submitted to the sales and marketing team an FY2020 roster of new topics (and some updates on former topics) for them to budget against. Tomorrow’s Summit is sponsored by Istation and texthelp. Microsoft is also a sponsor. And “development of independent content for this virtual summit is supported in part by a grant from the Spencer Foundation.” There’s a line at the bottom: “Would you like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities?” That leads to an EdWeek Marketing Solutions page with a summary of all previous Online Summits.

Added resources. More information is available in the form of Resources for attendees.

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