Podcast Response: Sky-High Student Loan Interest Rates

I would definitely consider using Podcasts for my professional learning. After reading the “Enhanced Podcasting” article, I liked the idea of using podcasts with narration to summarize the school week for parents. It can be created with students’ narration and emailed home to parents… Brilliant!

I chose to listen to the Podcast about Student Loans on EdReach.  I particularly enjoyed EdReach because it offers lots of information about education all at one central location. I thought this was an intriguing interview with some great opinions and suggestions.  I would definitely use a podcast as a professional development tool in the future.  The podcast addresses issues in an easy way, as listeners can be away from their comuputer or can multi-task and still receive the information.

During the podcast I listened to, I learned that right now Federal Stafford Student Loans are at 6.8% instead of 3.4%.  President Obama is pushing Congress to reduce the interest rate, to help provide students with more stability.  

Since Congress did not come up with a long term solution by July 1st, they have voted to extend the 3.4% rate for another year.  The podcast addressed the larger issue of a generation of debt and the rising cost of higher education.  The podcast addressed how the government has had to subsidize the rising cost, and how keeping the interest rate at 3.4% is only a temporary solution.

One theory the podcast discussed is that the government is perpetuating the increase in college costs because it is gaining huge profits from these student loans.  Another idea is that colleges are not investing in the right areas, and are instead spending the government money on sports, such as renovating football fields, instead of giving out more grants.  

One idea the author gave which I liked was the idea of online courses.  The author suggested that cost savings can occur if the government utilizes technology advances to create more online courses, and thus reduce the costs of college.   I would be more than willing to take course entirely online if it made graduate school less expensive!


To Flip or Not to Flip… Is that even a real question?

Image From Eudemic

The idea of a flipped classroom is new to me, and frankly, I find it very appealing.  The concept seems very logical: use classroom time to help students actually work and solve problems, and bring save “boring lectures” for home time where there is little teacher-student interaction anyway.  Since test scores have been proven to rise with this concept, why not apply it to more schools to see if the trend continues?  I’m intrigued.

After reading “To Flip or Not to Flip” by Jeff Dunn, published on edudemic, I cannot help but wonder what this would really require of the teacher.  So the idea is that the teacher would need to tape all of his or her lesson plans ahead of time and burn them to DVDs or upload them to the internet.  It does seem like a bit more work, but for better results… It’s surely worth it, right?  My first thought was that this would make teachers better teachers as well; having to watch their own lectures to “proof” them would help teachers understand where they could slow down or where they could elaborate or clarify more.  I see taped lectures as a way to proof read an essay before passing it in.  Brilliant!

I also thought the last point that this method allows for more socialization inside of the classroom.  Instead of students sitting still, listening to the lecture, students are active and communicating with one another.  Students work in groups, teach each other, and share their ideas as they attempt to solve problems in class.  Most importantly, any confusion is answered immediately instead of discovered at home.  As the teacher quoted states, “I am now there to immediately catch a misconception rather than have a student go home and reinforce that mistake.”

I remember going home and not realizing until then that I was confused over a particular point of the lecture.  Perhaps I missed a step in class when the teacher was solving the long Calculus problem.  I would sit at my desk and spend hours trying to figure out which step I was missing.  Is this really learning?  Or is this just waisted time?  What if the teacher could identify my mistake right away, and I could get back to practicing the problem-solving instead of sitting for an hour waisting time and becoming increasingly frustrated?

Does anyone else remember sitting at home trying to solve math problems? Perhaps with your parents help, but really wishing you could just phone your teacher?

Needless to say, I like the flipped classroom idea.


The second blog post I read was “Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom” by Andrew Miller.  I chose this blog post because it was posted on edutopia, which I recently discovered on Twitter (follow me!) and wrote about last week for class.

Miller says that the flipped classroom model does not “solve” any problems in education.  He does say, however, that it is the “first step” in reframing the role of the teacher in the classroom.

Miller believes that this model helps teachers be more of a guide, and less of a center-stage performer. Students say that teachers are now able to communicate with their students instead of lecture at them.

Miller lists 4 suggestions he thinks teachers planning on, or currently using, this model should know:

1. Need to Know – How do teachers convince their students that they actually need to watch the lectures?  He says that telling them that it will be on the test, etc., is not a good enough of a response.  He says that this type of response does not engage the students who are already struggling to find meaning in school.  He says that finding transparent reasons to know the content is important. Students are required to be much more responsible with this method, and it can be hard to convince a student to actually sit down and watch the lecture once they are outside of the classroom.

2. Engaging Models – Master models such as project-based learning, understanding by design or something similar to institute in your classroom. Then use the flipped classroom to support learning.

3. Identify any technology gaps that could inhibit learning.

4. Every time you have students watch a video, build in reflective activities to keep students engaged.

Essentially, Miller’s argument is that if you flip, do it responsibly   I’d say his motto is something along the lines of “Flip, Reflect, Improve!” Practice makes perfect.