The 10 biggest higher-ed tech stories of 2010

eCampus News counts down the 10 biggest higher-ed tech stories of 2010.

Campus leaders get better at leveraging the power of social media … Data breaches continue to hit higher education, with possible legal ramifications … A new federal law enlists colleges in the fight against online piracy: These are among the many key developments in campus technology in the past year.

In this special retrospective, the editors of eCampus News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant campus 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.

10. Netflix model helps ease the burden of college textbook costs.

College textbook rental services actually began cropping up in 2008, with startups such as borrowing from the business model of Netflix in letting students rent and return their books instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars a semester. But in 2010 this textbook distribution model really took off, aided by large companies such as Barnes & Noble getting into the act.

9. Colleges stung by the web’s ability to amplify embarrassing behavior.

A number of high-profile incidents in 2010 served as a harsh reminder of how easy it can be for students to send messages or videos that are embarrassing to their peers or faculty members spinning around the web for everyone to see.

8. Campus leaders learn how to leverage the power of social media.

The past year saw higher-education leaders embrace social media more than ever before to engage current students, entice prospective ones, and encourage alumni to open their wallets. And while there are no hard, fast rules when it comes to social media use in academia, attendees of the annual EDUCAUSE conference in October were encouraged to keep experimenting with their tweeting, linking, and posting until they strike the right balance in terms of effectiveness.

7. Data breaches continue to plague higher education … with possible legal repercussions.

In October, higher education saw one of its largest data security breaches ever, as the Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information for about 760,000 current and former Ohio State University students were accessed by unauthorized network users. The Ohio State incident followed other security breaches at schools such as the University of Maine, Penn State University, and Florida International University in the past year—although it was a breach at the University of Hawaii (UH) that might be the most damaging of all.

6. New federal law enlists colleges in the fight against online piracy.

Thanks to a federal law that went into effect in July, colleges and universities that don’t do enough to combat the illegal sharing of digital movies or music over their computer networks put themselves at risk of losing federal funding.

5. Education plays a key role in the new National Broadband Plan.

College faculty whose campuses are surrounded by neighborhoods that rely on antiquated dial-up internet connections are hoping the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Plan will bring faster connections that won’t send students running to their campus’s high-speed network every time they need to complete an assignment online.

4. Campus leaders turn to technology to help boost college completion rates.

The United States used to lead the world in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees; now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations. That’s something the Obama administration hopes to change by focusing heavily in the last year on boosting the nation’s college completion rate—and technology has played a key role in many of these efforts.

3. A federal crackdown on for-profit education providers sends shockwaves throughout the online-learning marketplace.

Enrollment in online college classes grew by more than 1 million students over the past year as more people returned to school in the midst of the economic downturn—but this phenomenal growth might be short-lived, a new study suggests. That’s partly because of new federal rules aimed at cracking down on misleading recruiting practices by for-profit education providers, who also are among the nation’s largest providers of online instruction.

2. Online privacy becomes a key priority for federal regulators, lawmakers … and campus 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 new rules by suggesting guidelines of its own.

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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