There is no product or newcomer or disruptive innovator that has exerted greater dominance in American education this year than San Jose, California-based Zoom. When the pandemic abruptly drove education online in March, everything from kindergarten classes to graduate seminars in Norse literature shifted rapidly to Zoom. Worldwide, 125,000 K-12 schools in 25 countries are now teaching on Zoom. The company doesn’t track higher ed, but Harvard uses it, as do the University of Michigan and hundreds of others.
Here are 2020’s most intriguing people, companies and trends from the world of education.
Best Product: Zoom
The software is easy, available, affordable and familiar. “Zoom can be democratizing,” says Forbes Awards judge Matt Greenfield. “The chat function allows shy students to participate in the conversation in a less scary way than is possible in a physical classroom.”
Most Intriguing Newcomer: Zoom
No innovation has played a greater role in shaping the work lives of students and instructors.
Disruptive Innovator: Zoom
Plenty of investors predict that a sizable share of classes at the nation’s universities will remain on Zoom when face-to-face education resumes.
Anus Horribilis: The College Board
The nonprofit monopoly that owns the SAT college admissions test is having a terrible pandemic. The test was canceled for more than 1.5 million students this year, and upwards of 1,675 colleges have made the SAT optional for the 2021 admissions cycle.
And drumroll, please …
The Forbes Person Of The Year In Education: Eric Yuan, CEO and founder of Zoom
Early in the pandemic, Zoom’s founder and CEO made an incredibly generous gesture, allowing K-12 schools unlimited hosting free of charge. Zoom has continued to offer free hosting to any K-12 school that requests it.
The Forbes Education Awards were bestowed in consultation with Matt Greenfield, managing partner at Rethink Education, a mission-driven venture capital firm that invests in education technology companies.