2010 top education stories

One of the whimsical pleasures in a New Year are the end-of-year lists.  These are often more for amusement than instruction, but do a reasonable job of measuring the sentiment of the previous twelve months.  So, in contrast to Van’s somewhat parochial approach to the Best of 2010 in ed reform, here is a different take on the top 10 education stories from 2010.

I chose it out of various options because I think it’s a more interesting list than most, both appropriately wonky (National Education Technology Plan) and topical (Rhee).  However I was drawn to some of the more unconventional choices:

At #5 is the Apple iPad, as a precursor to the way children, especially younger kids, will change their learning through the use of educational software and mobile devices.  Add to that this story in the New York Times about schools purchasing iPads and other devices.

I’m personally mixed – technology, like any tool, can be used well or poorly and is never a replacement for quality teaching — but in the hands of a supportive environment, I’m intrigued by the potential. And anyone who has seen a young child (like my three-year-old) use the touch screen and intuitive interface on an iPad (well before he can adapt to a keyboard and mouse) should recognize that the long-term implications here are considerable.

Numbers 6 (National Traditional Media Presence) and 7 (Entrepreneurship and New Media) are also outside the realm of much conventional thought.

The former notes that for many of (what’s left) of traditional media, education stories have assumed a more central role.  I would obviously extend that to the prominence of new sources (like EdNews Colorado) which are more than worthy substitutes for some of the holes left by the implosion of print media.

The latter notes the amount of entrepreneurial activity in education, with companies likeEdmodo and venture-capital backed LearnBoost (on whose blog this list appeared) — both which bear watching. In fact, there has been a significant boost in venture capital investment in start-up companies in education — over 30 deals announced in 2010 alone, including companies like Moonshot, MyEdu, Zinch, Knewton, Everfi, Altius, and Denver’s own TopSchool.

One of the more interesting developments over the past decade in education is the rise of new ideas and services from outside traditional providers — everything from Teach for America, to charter schools, to Revolution Foods — and the marriage of this interest in services with technology and entrepreneurs holds a world of promise.


Postscript: another EOY list of Andrew Rotherham’s 11 education activists to watch for 2011, including Colorado’s Senator Bennet, Stand for Children (which has a terrific Colorado chapter) founder Jonah Edelman, and Revolution Food founders Richmond and Tobey.

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