The Top Three Reasons Why Academics + Universities Publish on Medium

Gabe Kleinman
The Medium Blog
Published in
4 min readOct 2, 2014


We launched Medium two years ago to help people share their ideas and stories with the world. In that short time, writers, entrepreneurs, and organizations have been using it for all means of expression.

Medium has also become an experimental platform for cutting-edge higher ed institutions — from Stanford to Cornell, MIT to Mt. San Antonio College.

Here are the top three reasons why.

I. Medium is for thought leaders.

Across disciplines, institutional and individual thought leaders are publishing on Medium.

Recently, we’ve seen Harvard’s Jonathan Zittrain post on “Why Libraries Still Matter,” NYU’s Clay Shirky explaining why he asked students to put away their laptops, Cal-Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg’s thoughts from the Aspen Ideas Festival, Jeff Jarvis on mass media content, and Stanford’s Rob Reich on a multitude of issues. Thought leaders bring existing audiences, find new ones, and control their message on Medium — beyond the reach and technological capabilities of university blogs, academic journals, and earned media. And it’s the best writing tool online, period.

II. Medium is a (public) learning platform.

The words “new learning platform” are cringe-worthy; we know there are too many to choose from already. We didn’t design Medium explicitly as a learning platform — which is what makes this so exciting. It’s neither MOOC nor private. It’s a public learning platform.

David Kennedy, Rob Reich, and James Steyer are using Medium as one communication channel for their State of the Union 2014 course at Stanford. University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Molly Steenson is on Medium with her latest course (Information Landscapes & Data Cultures)— and has created a collection of her students’ work. New York Times columnist David Carr is also running his Boston University course, Press Play, on Medium.

Counterclockwise from top: Molly Steenson’s Information Landscapes & Data Cultures, David Carr’s Press Play, and Stanford’s State of the Union 2014.

III. Medium enables you to engage with (new + existing) audiences in new ways.

Higher ed institutions continue to search for ways to demonstrate and communicate relevance to all targets, especially given (heard this before?) skyrocketing tuition costs and commoditization of the degree. Medium is a compelling way to communicate that relevance to existing and new audiences, be they recruits, donors or policy-makers.

MIT is using Medium to share select stories out of the Media Lab, such as one about a hackathon to design a better breast pump. Cornell is highlighting one professor’s scientific approach to finding love and a student-run wearable technology fashion show. Stanford is showcasing editor’s picks from their Stanford Magazine on Medium, surfacing hits like this one about the last survivor of the Class of 1933. Marquette has launched a collection of stories written by Marquette University faculty, students, and alumni.

Their content isn’t simply being communicated via the usual channels to the usual audiences on expensive, custom-built websites. By default, publishing on Medium drives your content through a pulsing, diverse network (and makes it look beautiful) — alongside real-world content — in ways that publishing on a university blog could never achieve alone. At no hard cost.

P.S. Medium isn’t just for the Ivies.

One of the most exciting use cases we’ve seen emerge has been from an unlikely character: Mt. San Antonio College outside Los Angeles.

Journalism professor Toni Albertson pioneered their student publication migration over to Medium, now called Substance. It’s amazing, and produces work like this — their first post — with over 15x more traffic than their most successful piece previous to publishing on Medium:

What has struck me isn’t their immediate success, but the rationale behind the endeavor. It cuts across nearly every issue higher ed is facing today:

“It’s a different world out there and the sooner advisers realize it, the sooner our students will be able to one day find employment.” — Toni Albertson

It is a different world out there, and Medium is in the thick of it.

You should be too.

Come join us.