Game-changing technologies are on the way in 2010.

Game-changing technologies are on the way in 2010.

Recently, we posted a look back at the 10 most significant education technology stories of 2009, as chosen by our editors. Now, here’s a look at five stories that could have a huge effect on education technology in the new year. (As always, you can follow the latest developments regarding these and other stories at eSchoolNews.com.)

5. Will Congress reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act this year, and if so, what will the new law look like?

The reauthorization of NCLB is three years overdue, but if the recent health-care debate is any indication, it could be a while yet before lawmakers overcome the gridlock on Capitol Hill to pass a new federal education law. Still, educators will be watching closely to see how these efforts play out in the coming year–and what effects they might have on school policy.

Eight years after NCLB was enacted, U.S. schools have made some progress in closing achievement gaps, but much work remains to be done. And there is growing evidence to suggest that the nation’s schools aren’t preparing students adequately to compete in the global economy, as U.S. scores on international benchmark exams have remained relatively flat while other nations have made great strides.

The Obama administration has articulated four key priorities in its efforts to reform the nation’s schools: rewarding effective teaching, improving academic standards, using data to drive instruction, and transforming underperforming high schools. It’s likely these four priorities will be reflected in any new education law that emerges from Congress. But there are other bills pending in Congress that could help shape a new education law as well, and many of these have important implications for ed tech.

For instance, states offering students curriculum options that integrate key 21st-century skills would receive matching federal funds through an incentive bill introduced last May by West Virginia Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV. And the School and Family Education about the Internet (SAFE Internet) Act, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., would authorize roughly $175 million over five years for internet safety education and training to help make children, parents, and educators aware of proper online behavior.

Related links:

Bill would fund internet safety education

Duncan outlines school reform agenda

Senate bill supports 21st-century skills

Duncan: Use tech to leverage change

4. How will the continuing evolution of mobile devices affect students’ computing experience?

The rapid evolution of mobile computing has had a profound effect on school technology use in recent years, and this trend is sure to continue in 2010.

Over the past several months, netbooks–smaller, scaled-down versions of notebook computers–have begun replacing laptops in a number of schools, and recent advancements in smart-phone technology have prompted many school leaders to reevaluate their cell-phone policies, with an eye on whether these can put a computer in each student’s hands for less money than traditional machines.

Later this year, Google will introduce a new operating system for netbooks and other mobile computers that promises to reduce boot-up speeds dramatically. Called Chrome, the new system–which is closely tied to Google’s web browser of the same name–aims to shift users toward “cloud computing,” a model in which programs are not installed on a local machine but instead are accessed online. In a recent demonstration, a netbook using an early version of the Chrome operating system reportedly booted up in seven seconds, and Google said it was working to make the start-up time even faster. (That could be key in an environment where time is at a premium, such as a 50-minute class period.)