tlg ink: The Key Educational Stories of 2010

December always brings year-end lists. We hear about the best and the worst, the most popular, and the most newsworthy. It’s the month for reflective superlatives.

Looking back, it’s easy to predict the news stories you’ll find on those lists. You’ll see things like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the earthquake in Haiti, the rescue of the Chilean miners, the last U.S. combat troops leave Iraq, mid-term elections and the Democratic loss of the majority in the House, and the rallies in Washington.

What about the list of higher education news though? Here are the 10 issues I’ve picked as the key stories of 2010:

  1. The increasing use of e-books in the classroom highlighted the issue of accessibility for visually impaired students and raised new questions about how we buy, read, and create texts.
  2. The Library of Congress ruling on DVD use in the classroom opened up opportunities for sophisticated mash-ups and classroom video use without fear of copyright challenges.
  3. A focus on assessment and accountability resulted in new government rules governing student aid.
  4. A White House-initiated effort to lower the cost of a college education applied even more pressure on departments and programs to do as much as possible with limited funding.
  5. Students began renting textbooks for the semester, though the effectiveness of the strategy in lowering the cost of college was unclear.
  6. Educators and politicians participated in a White House Summit on the Community College, and the President signed the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
  7. The Cooks Source scandal brought us two very opposite understandings of intellectual property rights, which added more fuel to lessons [Link forthcoming] on preventing plagiarism.
  8. The harassment-provoked suicide of Tyler Clementi resulted in nationwide discussions of bullying and the need for programs promoting tolerance.
  9. More schools offered courses, degrees, and lecture notes online, widening the campus reach, trying to lower costs, and encouraging speculation about the future classroom and conversations about ADA compliance.
  10. The wide use of social networking sites resulted in contradictory articles about the effect on grades, led to a social media blackout at one university, and raised discussion of online privacy, online expressions of grief, responses to campus tragedies, and the distance between personal and classroom networks.

What are lessons of 2010 for composition teachers? We must continue to encourage students to explore a wide range of ways of reading and composing—from digital and hybrid compositions to video mash-ups. We must continue to raise tough questions about everything from intellectual property rights to the protection of students and their privacy. We must find the best ways to tap new and emerging technologies and online social connectivity within the courses we teach.

We haven’t heard the last of any of these issues, and you’re sure to see entries about them all on Bedford Bits in the coming year. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the most current details. Have a great winter break, and I’ll see you next year!