The 10 biggest ed-tech stories of 2010


eSchool News reviews the 10 biggest ed-tech stories of 2010.

STEM education gets a boost amid concerns about U.S. competitiveness … States embrace cloud computing with large-scale school software projects… Assessments get a 21st-century makeover with the help of technology: These are among the many key educational technology developments in the past year.

In this special retrospective, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant educational technology stories of 2010. To learn more about each story, click on the headlines below.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list? Did we leave anything out? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

No. 10: Advancements in audiovisual technology shine a spotlight on school multimedia.

The past year saw many advances in audiovisual technology for schools, most notably the ability for standalone projectors to turn any wall into an interactive whiteboard without needing a specialized surface.

No. 9: STEM education gets a boost as concerns about U.S. competitiveness multiply.

Results from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, released in late 2010, showed the United States continuing to fare in the middle of the pack in terms of math and science achievement. But even before the new PISA figures came out, federal officials had ramped up their efforts to boost science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

No. 8: Schools call on smart phones to help with mobile learning.

Using cell phones as tools for learning actually began a few years ago, but a number of developments occurred in the last year to help accelerate this trend.

No. 7: Statewide ed-tech projects aim high by moving to the cloud.

In April, Oregon announced that it would give its 540,000 public school students free access to the online Google Apps for Education, a move that state officials said could save Oregon’s schools $1.5 million in software hosting and licensing costs over the course of the five-year deal. The announcement made Oregon the first state in the U.S. to announce such a deal … but not for long, as other states—such as Iowa, Colorado, and New York—stepped up to offer similar arrangements.

No. 6: Assessments get a 21st-century makeover with the help of technology.

Spurred on by the goal of having students graduate from high school ready for college or a career, the Education Department doled out $330 million in grants to help states redesign their assessments for the 21st century—and technology will play a key role in these new exams.

No. 5: The U.S. redefines its ed-tech goals with a new national plan.

In March, the Education Department (ED) released a draft version of its new National Educational Technology Plan, and after collecting responses from the public, the department issued a final version of the new plan in November.

No. 4: Online privacy becomes a key priority for federal regulators, lawmakers … and school leaders.

Giving web users more control of their personal information online became a key priority for members of Congress in the past year, as well as for federal regulators and the technology industry, which sought to head off regulation by suggesting guidelines of its own. The need for online privacy was driven home earlier in the year when a Pennsylvania school system was sued for using the webcams on district-issued laptops to “spy” on students.

No. 3: Education plays a key role in the new National Broadband Plan.

More students should have access to online learning, and the federal e-Rate program should be more widely deployed and should embrace and encourage innovation, according to the National Broadband Plan, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled on March 16.

No. 2: Waiting for ‘Superman’ helps spur school-reform debate.

The controversial documentary film Waiting for ‘Superman’ has shined a national spotlight on the need for school reform, while sparking intense debate over how best to achieve this goal.

No. 1: Apple’s iPad spurs a whole new technology movement … and helps change how people read.

With a large touch screen that can display electronic texts in color, Apple’s iPad was greeted with huge enthusiasm by many ed-tech advocates when it debuted earlier this year. The device also inspired a host of competitors and sparked an eReader price war as it threatened to shake up the eBook market.

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