Higher Education News

Secretary Arne Duncan Joins Medium

U.S. Department of Education Blog - April 20, 2015 - 3:53pm

Earlier today, Secretary of Education Arne joined Medium, a new self-publishing platform that encourages people to share ideas and stories that matter.

In his inaugural Medium post, Secretary Duncan discusses how technological tools can “empower students to become who they want to be, and who we need them to be — the kind of children and young people who ask, ‘What can I improve? How can I help? What can I build?'”

“Technology can just as easily widen the lead for those who already have every advantage. If the technology revolution only happens for families that already have money and education, then it’s not really a revolution.”  

Read the Secretary’s full post and follow us to keep the conversation going.

We’re always looking for new ways to connect with the public, which is why you can also follow Secretary Duncan on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Categories: Higher Education News

Games for Learning Summit: Expanding the Conversation Between Educators and Game Designers

U.S. Department of Education Blog - April 20, 2015 - 1:00pm

Cross-posted from Medium.

Whether it is using quick warm-ups like Game of Phones or highly immersive experiences with Mario Kart and Minecraft, digital games can be powerful motivators for learning. It is with this in mind that we are eager to expand the conversation between teachers and game developers.

The U.S. Department of Education and Games for Change, with support from the Entertainment Software Association, will host the Games for Learning Summit April 21 at the 2015 Games for Change (G4C) Festival. With more than 250 participants, including nationally recognized educators, the designers of some of today’s most popular video games, and members of the U.S. Department of Education, we are hopeful that this event will encourage collaboration focused on the learning needs and interests of young people in the U.S.

Collaborating and designing with the learning interests of young people in mind requires a shift in thinking from all stakeholders. Based on the conversations we’ve had with teachers and students, there is a hunger for better games that support better learning today. With the recent release of The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide, the pathways for developing for impact are clearer than ever.

At the beginning of the school year, the two of us (along with a handful of amazing teachers) spent a weekend enmeshed with teams of game designers at the White House Education Game Jam. Focused on games that could provide powerful learning resources for schools, we have continued to be optimistic about the results that such collaboration can yield.

A recent game-design project in Chad’s classroom highlights some of what game-based learning has to offer us as teachers and students. Inspired by games ranging from Geometry Dash to Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure, students working in teams of four completed their own Scratch games like Wasteland Adventures, World Championship Soccer, and Sanic Pong. Each ‘studio’ of four students brainstormed genres, tropes, and mechanics for games they wanted to create and play. Then they got to work. Programmers started to code. Artists worked with platforms like Piskel and Google Draw. Sound Engineers scoured freesound.org and Sound Bible for sound effects and composed theme music with Online Sequencer. Student project managers kept everyone working and talking with one another through shared docs and folders.

The project helped students develop media literacy, soft skills like collaboration, and technical skills like managing an online repository of A/V assets, to say nothing of the logic, math, reading, and writing skills they demonstrated in navigating tutorials, communicating online, and building their games. Students even discussed gender norms in character design and traditional gaming narratives. Game-based learning isn’t about consuming a product to pick up a fact or two; it’s about learning to analyze or produce pieces of interactive media that require critical thinking, persistence, and problem-solving to master, critique, play, and make.

Now, with several White House Education Game Jam alumni and friends coming to the Games for Learning Summit, we are excited about focusing on articulating the thinking, dialogue, and spaces for collaboration between developers and educators.

We’re looking forward to continuing conversation far beyond the Games and Learning Summit. We need to work together to answer questions like: How can we help one another make and use games to fulfill educational needs in the classroom? How can we put the best interactive content in the hands of students for the most meaningful educational experiences — those focused on discovery and decision-making? Let’s figure out game-changing ways to harness the power of play for the work of learning in schools.

Join the conversation on Tuesday by watching the live stream and Tweeting your contributions with #G4L15.

Antero Garcia (@anterobot) is a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education and teaches pre-service teachers as an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University.

Chad Sansing (@chadsansing) teaches technology and project-based learning at the BETA Academy in Staunton, Virginia.

Categories: Higher Education News

6 Things You MUST Know About Repaying Your Student Loans

U.S. Department of Education Blog - April 20, 2015 - 12:00pm

If you’re already repaying your student loans or about to begin making payments for the first time, it’s easy to get intimidated. Although you have lots of options to consider, there’s no reason to be alarmed. In just a few minutes, you can get a good handle on your student loans and who knows, you may even save yourself some time and money in the long run.

And REMEMBER: If you ever need any one-on-one help understanding your repayment options, you can get it (for FREE!) through your loan servicer. You should never have to pay for help with your federal student loans.

Here are six things you should know about your student loans.

1. When to start making payments

You don’t have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Many federal student loans will even have a grace period. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period. If you are able, you might want to consider making interest payments during your grace period so your principal balance doesn’t increase.

Your loan servicer or lender will provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.

2. Who to pay

You will make your federal student loan payments to your loan servicer*, not the U.S. Department of Education (ED) directly. ED uses several loan servicers to handle the billing and other services on federal student loans. Your loan servicer can work with you to choose a repayment plan and can answer any questions you have about your federal student loans. It’s important to maintain contact with your loan servicer and keep your servicer informed of any changes to your mailing address, e-mail, or phone number so they know where to send correspondence and how to contact you.

3. How much to pay

Your bill will tell you how much to pay. Your payment (usually made monthly) depends on

  • the type of loan you received,
  • how much money you borrowed,
  • the interest rate on your loan, and
  • the repayment plan you choose.

You can use our repayment estimator to estimate your monthly payments under different repayment plans to determine which option is right for you. To switch repayment plans, contact your loan servicer.

4. How to Make Your Payments

There are several ways you can submit payments to your loan servicer, including options to submit your payment online through your loan servicer’s website.

TIP: Your servicer may offer the option to have your payments automatically withdrawn from your bank account each month. You may want to consider this option so you don’t forget to make your payments. And if you choose to enroll in automatic debit, you may even qualify for a special interest rate reduction.

5. What to do if you can’t make your payment

Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible if you are confused or can’t afford your monthly payment. You do have options to lower your payment, such as changing your repayment plan to one that will allow you to have a longer repayment period or to one that is based on your income. If switching repayment plans isn’t a good option for you, ask your loan servicer about loan consolidation or postponing your payments.

Note: Several third-party companies offer student loan assistance for a fee. Most of these services can be obtained for free from your loan servicer.

6. What could happen if you don’t make your payments

Not making your student loan payments is a big deal. It can result in default, which negatively impacts your credit score, and may affect your ability to borrow for things like buying a car or purchasing a home. Your tax refunds may also be withheld and applied to your outstanding student loan debt. There is never a reason to default. The Department of Education offers several options to ensure that you can successfully manage your student loans. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty making payments, contact your loan servicer for help.

*If you are repaying federal student loans made by a private lender (before July 1, 2010), you may be required to make payments directly to that lender.

Tara Marini is a communications specialist at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

Categories: Higher Education News

In Search of Limits, a Climate Scientist Pushes Bounds

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 20, 2015 - 11:00am

A new paper raises the question of how much the fear of being misinterpreted by skeptics is constraining researchers.

Categories: Higher Education News

Community-College Gathering Takes Up Challenges, Familiar and Fanciful

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 20, 2015 - 2:56am

Budget woes and completion goals are on the agenda. So are secret shoppers and new ideas for engaging students. After all, someone has to program and fly all those drones. 

Categories: Higher Education News

Sponsors of Campus Entrepreneurship

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 20, 2015 - 2:55am

Foundations and other nonprofit groups have helped finance the growth of undergraduate entrepreneurship programs.

Categories: Higher Education News

The ‘Maker Movement’ Goes to College

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:04pm

Institutions gamble on free-for-all tool shops as engines of entrepreneurship.

Categories: Higher Education News

Selected New Books on Higher Education

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:01pm

Subjects include the work-life balanace and providing support to veterans in higher education.

Categories: Higher Education News

To Be a Featured Speaker at a Scholarly Meeting, It Helps to Be Male

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:01pm

Prompting a conversation that is growing in momentum, scholars in some disciplines are tallying up a gender gap in the voices heard at plenary sessions.

Categories: Higher Education News

The Week

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:01pm

What you need to know about the past seven days.

Categories: Higher Education News

Ex-Lawmaker Embraces Chance to Improve Social Relations at the U. of Oklahoma; and Other News About People

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:01pm

Jabar Shumate, new vice president for the university community at Oklahoma, says he is encouraged by students’ response to a shocking incident.

Categories: Higher Education News

What I'm Reading: 'The Tyranny of the Meritocracy'

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:01pm

If colleges reject the model that overvalues test scores, rankings, and individual competition, what should they replace it with?

Categories: Higher Education News

Now Everyone’s an Entrepreneur

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:01pm

Colleges are teaching undergraduates how to be self-starters. But what does that really mean?

Categories: Higher Education News

Jeffrey Hancock Wants to Keep Talking About How We Use Social Media for Research

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

The study he did with Facebook caused a huge backlash. Is there a better way?

Categories: Higher Education News

Audrey Watters Casts a Skeptical Eye on Tech Boosters

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

Animating her work is a conviction that technology needs to be not just used but questioned.

Categories: Higher Education News

With Twitter, Statistics 101 Takes Flight

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

At heart, it’s a contextual science, and tweeting can help students see that context.

Categories: Higher Education News

Maria Klawe Won’t Let Computer Science Remain a Boys’ Club

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

Women like to solve problems and to be seen as creative, says a female computer scientist who leads a college.

Categories: Higher Education News

Vigilance Is the Price of Secure Computing

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

Our best defense against cybercriminals is a knowledgeable, intellectually curious work force. And education is key.

Categories: Higher Education News

Futures Initiative at CUNY Inspires New Teaching Styles

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

A Graduate Center program pursues a loftier and, its founders insist, more practical goal than simple "work force readiness."

Categories: Higher Education News

Why We Need Learning Engineers

Chronicle of Higher Education - April 19, 2015 - 10:00pm

Almost no one who is involved in creating learning materials relies on the evidence from learning science.

Categories: Higher Education News


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