Raquel Frye


Things are starting to heat up around the RESI office as preparations are underway for this year’s Economic Outlook Conference (EOC), which will take place at Towson University on November 17. This year’s EOC theme is “Conscious Capitalism: The Economics of Doing Good.” I thought that the blog would be a perfect platform to touch on the topic prior to the event.

What Is Conscious Capitalism?

You may be already wondering, “What exactly is Conscious Capitalism?” The tagline on the Conscious Capitalism website states that “Conscious Capitalism exists to elevate humanity.” Well then, that certainly is a tall order. I think the credo helps to clarify the point a little further:

“Conscious Capitalism is a way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world.”

It goes on further: “Conscious businesses have trusting, authentic, innovative and caring cultures that make working there a source of both personal growth and professional fulfillment.”

Conscious Capitalism

Source: Cagle Cartoons

I don’t know about you, but it’s rare for business news to focus on personal growth and fulfillment. In a world where the majority of headlines about companies are related to lawsuits, share prices, and profit margins, this certainly is a different way to more holistically value and measure how companies are doing.

Conscious Capitalism Facts

If I understand it correctly, companies that subscribe to Conscious Capital tenets are usually driven by more than just profit margins—they truly commit to the greater good. But, given the fact that profit is not their only driving factor, just how successful can these companies be? Well, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, these companies are profitable. A business professor by the name of Raj Sisodia recently co-authored a book about these types of companies. The book looks at 28 companies that were identified as being the most conscious. Of those 28, the 18 companies that were publicly traded outperformed (by using the S&P index) by a factor of 10.5 between 1996 and 2011. Other data seem to support this idea. A Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility reported that 43 percent of respondents agreed that they spend more on products and services from companies that implemented programs to give back to society. I know that, as a consumer, having the ability to shop with companies that have a greater goal in mind is something that I take into account when purchasing products. In fact, I tend to gravitate toward companies that treat their employees well and have good social and environmental missions.

EOC Conscious Capitalism


There are several examples of successful companies “doing good.” I think TOMS is a particularly interesting company to highlight. Just by visiting the TOMS site, you are instantly fully aware of its mission.

This site is not just one where you go and purchase shoes. You can find information about how TOMS gives back and how to get more involved in a variety of ways. As an economist, I think this is another way to examine how we are using our scarce resources and maximizing their potential. In this way, we aren’t just measuring firm inputs and outputs (my student’s favorite lecture in Microeconomics) but measuring a bigger, wider, but sometimes less tangible impact.

I think the topic of conscious capitalism is something that we are just beginning to understand and implement on a larger scale, and I’m glad RESI will spend a whole day spreading the message at the 2015 Economic Outlook Conference. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

About the 2015 Economic Outlook Conference

The 20th Annual Economic Outlook Conference will take place on November 17 at Towson University. To register, please visit our website. Educators and entrepreneurs leading the conversation on Conscious Capitalism in Maryland and at the national level will speak about the benefits of embracing this theory. Speakers include David Utts, Executive Director, Conscious Capitalism Chapter of Central Maryland; R. Edward Freeman, Darden School of Business, UVA; and John Montgomery, author of Great From the Start. View the complete agenda online.


Ellen Bast


Towson University is guided by its ten institutional priorities as part of its strategic plan. One of these priorities, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Applied Research, is especially pertinent to the Division of Innovation and Applied Research (DIAR) (it’s even part of our name). While this priority drives much of what we do at RESI, it is also valuable to partner with other organizations that embrace these principles as well.

About the Signature Program

One of RESI’s outreach activities includes working with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) for their innovative Signature programs. Signature programs connect students and teachers with local community and business leaders to bring an element of the “real world” into the classroom. Each of AACPS’s twelve comprehensive high schools chose a theme for its individualized Signature program, with topics ranging from human performance to design preservation and innovation. All students have the opportunity to take specialized coursework for the Signature at their schools as well as participate in extracurricular activities such as internships, field trips, international study and immersion, or job shadowing. An Integrated Community Stakeholder Team (ICST) collaborates with each school to further bridge the connections between the school and the community at large.

These ICSTs are where RESI gets involved: many of my colleagues and I are involved with the ICSTs for the Community Development and Global Citizenship Signature at Arundel High School (AHS) and the International Finance and Economics Signature at Old Mill High School (OMHS). As ICST members, we meet with AACPS educators and students as well as other community and business members to help shape the Signature programs. For example, I spent a day with AHS students last semester to teach a lesson on environmental economics, which connected their curriculum modules on economics and environmental issues. Raquel Frye, Managing Director of RESI, has also enjoyed her time with the OMHS Signature:

Working with the AA [Anne Arundel] Signature Program for International Finance and Economics has been an amazing experience. I enjoyed having the ability to help develop coursework and assessments and then getting a chance to view firsthand how successful (or unsuccessful) they were in the classroom. The lessons learned through the process have been invaluable to someone like me who is really passionate about economics education.

Raquel Frye
Managing Director of RESI

In addition to RESI going to the classroom, we bring students in the Signature program to TU’s campus. For example, AHS students have attended RESI’s Economic Outlook Conference (EOC) in the past and will return to campus on November 17 for this year’s conference on Conscious Capitalism: The Economics of Doing Good. Attending the EOC is a highlight for students, and as Phelps Prescott, AP Economics teacher at AHS describes, “These conferences have produced students that are more devoted to the studies of Economics and [have prepared] students for any University of College where they might want to study Economics.” And RESI’s contributions to Signature and AACPS have not gone unnoticed. On September 22, 2015, Dr. Daraius Irani, RESI’s Chief Economist and a member of AHS’s ICST, received the 21st Century Education Foundation’s 2015 Business Partner Award.

Signature Program

Reginald Wilson and Joanne Brack of AACPS with Daraius Irani at the 21st Century Education Foundation 2015 Networking Breakfast with the Superintendent, where Irani received the 2015 Business Partner Award

Participating in Signature, in addition to providing an outlet for community outreach, allows RESI to carry on TU’s history and legacy as a teachers’ college. In light of the ongoing celebrations to commemorate TU’s 150th anniversary, any opportunity to contribute to innovative educational programs in the region is especially significant. And, as someone whose interest in economics was first piqued during her high school economics coursework, I relish in the opportunity to influence the next wave of economics nerds.

Frank Bonsal III Director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University


The Impact of a Portfolio

Impact, mission-driven, or mission-related investing begins with discrete social goals and aims to yield tangible, scalable social + financial returns. To me, it is focusing on what you know, what you love, and where you know you can make a measurable difference.

“Impact investing is actively placing capital in businesses and funds that generate social and/or environmental good and a range of returns, from principal to above market, to the investor.”

 — The Monitor Institute

Mission-Driven Investing in EducationImage Source: The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University

I decided to disrupt myself, to incrementally transition from the classroom to the boardroom in the run-up to the dot-com bubble and was triggered to jump in the summer of 2001, at the height of the downfall. One should make a bold career shift at an economic bottom, because there’s nowhere to go but up, right? Sounds good on paper, anyway. Here’s the Cliff Notes version.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

Image Source: Past Life Tourist

My professional journey began with a decade of teaching and coaching in middle and high schools along the U.S. eastern seaboard and with brief stints in the UK and Japan. I felt the pull to impact education at scale. So, how exactly would a classroom teacher put a proverbial dent in the universe of learning? Back then, at the turn of the Millennium, you would likely choose to become an edupreneur, working from outside the system to solve problems. Okay, then would you do this from a single operating platform (for-profit or nonprofit) enterprise — or via a portfolio of enterprises? If you were born and raised in a household of a co-founder of one of the nation’s premiere venture capital firms, you just might choose the portfolio approach. But, how do you get there? You’ve been teaching and coaching for over a decade with parchment that says ‘English Teaching’ and ‘Elementary Education’. The answer for me was apprenticeship in a relationship that I could trust — and a brain rewiring via full-time B-school experience. Sometimes immersion is the only way.

My investing story has evolved considerably over 15 years, but, excepting a few healthcare and enterprise software solutions, has always been headlong in education. The story begins in a unique family office apprenticeship (Bonsal Capital), extends into institutional micro-venture capital (New Markets), includes a few one-off angel investments, and is currently pegged to incubation and innovation cluster support (Towson University). The portfolio below represents my lifetime direct investment experience in early childhood, K-12, and post-secondary education.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

Out of 27 investments, there have been 13 realizations (48% of the portfolio, one not yet public), yielding a 3X return on invested capital. These returns are born by three write-offs, five at 1–2x return, two at 3–5x, and three at 6–10x, yielding an 18–20% IRR, which works for most financial investors. 60% of these investments were made at the seed or early stage, 40% at growth or late stage, where the average return horizon was 4.5 years. Put simply, the above returns represent an 89% ‘success’ rate in a half-realized portfolio with 3X cash-on-cash returns. Funny thing is, that success rate is roughly the inverse of the strategy born by ‘swing for the fence’ venture investors, the ‘one in ten’ approach, where one massive winner creates the desired financial return (returns principal), and the laggards and carnage make up the difference and are deemed part of the business. A third of the portfolio written off? Not in education! Carnage and impatient capital need not apply! And even if you wanted to swing for the fence on every company, the problem is two-fold: 1) there are very few unicorns ($B companies) in education and 2) a majority failure rate with end users that are students, administrators, LEAs, IHEs, and even learners on the consumer side of the equation would send the innovation movement backward by a decade.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

New Markets’ Education Investment Impact

Okay, but what about the social returns? Honestly, in aggregate, they have not been accurately measured. Approximately half of the portfolio can be pegged to the adjacent image which depicts 2014 New Markets investments. I can emphatically state that tens of millions of students, teachers, administrators, and parents have been happy, recurring customers or end users of products and services from growing, continuously improving enterprises focused on 1) flexible, adaptive, competency-based learning, 2) administrative productivity and accountability, 3) student success in support of diploma and degree attainment, 4) adaptive reading and math remediation, 5) teacher effectiveness, and 6) assessment and evaluation.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

The impact value chain in the adjacent image imparts at least a qualitative way to begin measuring impact but is merely based off a 40 year old evaluation of program effectiveness. It is an understatement to say that impact measurement requires institutional discipline and support. Acumen CIO Sasha Dictor imparts, “I’m not sure how far we’ve come on the “actively measured” bit — mostly because it’s really, really hard to measure impact.”

Reflecting back on the early 2000’s, when I made the jump from the classroom, the education investing picture portrayed a mere handful of institutional and strategic investors, with very few investing at the early stages. DHM Arcadia Partners, Ascend Ventures, and the corporate-induced Sylvan Ventures were ramping or cresting. Each of these funds has wound down or moved away from education investing, perhaps worn down by the long tail rigor and often policy-driven challenges associated with investing in edtech, particularly in K-12.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

Source: GSV Advisors

In 2015, the world has changed dramatically in education investing. Over the last five years, we have seen a 35% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in capital flows into education exhibited by 1) the infusion of a number of diversified firms attracted to education and 2) by the creation of brand new funds and firms devoted exclusively to the craft of education investing. See: Learn Capital (2008), New Markets Education Partners, LP (2010), Reach Capital (formerly NewSchools Seed, 2012), Rethink Education (2012), University Ventures (2012), and Owl Ventures (2015).

There are a myriad of private foundations who have tilted to some degree of mission-driven investing in education in addition to true philanthropic grantmaking. The Kellogg, Rockefeller, Dell, and Hewlett foundations are several key leaders in U.S. direct mission-driven investing. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation are grantmaking institutions that have made noteworthy indirect investments in some of the funds in the previous paragraph. These pioneering foundations, and a growing number of others, are proving out the need for mission-driven public-private partnerships in K-20 education like never before.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

There are also a growing number of accelerators, incubators, and design studios building, scaling, and investing in edtech: 4.0 Schools (2010), Imagine K12 (2011), LearnLaunch (2012), Education Design Studio (2013), Jefferson Education Accelerator (2014), and EDGE EdTech (2015). The Northeast Corridor has quite a few edtech hubs worth your consideration, not to mention robust activity in Chicago, New Orleans, and, of course, San Francisco/Silicon Valley. Each takes a portfolio approach where the collective impact is an impressive array of solutions aimed at changing and ameliorating education, at all stages and locales.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

With a pragmatic, ecosystem-based approach over the last two years at Towson University, my TU Incubator team, associated networks, partners, and I have been working to help entrepreneurs build, validate, grow, and sustain education solutions. From one edtech ‘investment’ in late 2013 to over 1o active edtech companies in late 2015, we have been shaping and supporting a community that cares deeply about impact and sustainability. And, we are just getting started. Our impact? Approaching 100 new jobs, over 250,000 end users, over $4 million in outside capital, and an increasingly positive reputation for solution-building in the Greater Baltimore education innovation cluster.

Mission-Driven Investing in Education

The above ecosystem efforts are a small but important beginning, and we uphold Margaret Mead’s thesis: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” As a youth in the 1970’s, the environmentally conscious mantra was to Think Globally, Act Locally. In education innovation clusters, it’s the inverse. Think (and listen, design, learn, and iterate) Locally, and Act (validate and scale) Globally. The world needs your idea, moreover your solution executed upon with the right set of values and rigor. It’s time to get started, because we can’t wait.

susan steward


A few weeks ago, I published a blog post regarding nursing demand in Maryland—specifically, demand for registered nurses. At the time, I briefly introduced RESI’s new industry-to-occupation matrix and asked for suggestions for a name. Well, after at least a month of brainstorming (and voting!), we have finally settled on RESI’s Predictive Regional Occupational Matrix, or PROM. We’ll make this blog post RESI’s PROM-posal to you, and a more formal introduction of how PROM can be useful in analyzing the workforce needs of a region.

Goodbye to the Old, Welcome the New!

PROM Workflow

Click to see our Workflow

PROM is a tool that allows RESI to take forecasts for industry-level jobs and determine the specific occupations attributed to those jobs. RESI has also developed a reverse interface to go from occupational data up to industry-level data. This reverse interface allows RESI to look at reintegration of occupations into a workforce. For example, I am currently using the tool to look at the impacts of minimum wage and mandatory sick leave policies, workforce demand/shortages, and targeted training.

For several years, one of the biggest questions that I was asked when presenting job forecasts was, “What are the occupations that will be affected?” It is one thing to report that there will be 100 jobs in a sector, but relating that job count to specific people working in a field was a bit difficult. We knew the types of occupations associated with those fields when we used Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data, but now we have a better way of answering occupation-related questions from clients and decision makers.

What is PROM?

PROM is a regional matrix that can be customized to suit a group’s specific needs. On October 9th, I will be providing two presentations at the RESI/REMI joint event, Raising the Bar on Policy. One of the presentations looks at identifying an occupation’s growth using the REMI PI+ forecast for Maryland and RESI’s PROM. Since the tool’s reconfiguration, I have used it to work backward from OES data for those impacted by minimum wage and paid sick leave policies for a new analysis on “A Tale of Two Policies.”

“A Tale of Two Policies” will look at the economic and fiscal impacts associated with the continuing change in Maryland’s minimum wage coupled with the possible passage of mandatory paid sick leave. Being able to look at the impact of both policies on Maryland’s economy and see the shifts in occupational data provided RESI with new insights—mainly in determining if there is overlap in occupations across similar industries. This finding may be helpful for workforce agencies attempting to target training offerings for future labor demands in their regions.

Ask Us About PROM!

RESI is proud to introduce the latest addition to our toolkit. If you are interested in learning more or seeing some work completed using PROM, please feel free to join us on October 9th for the joint REMI/RESI event, Raising the Bar on Policy. It’s a free event, but registration is highly encouraged. If you are attending the Economic Outlook Conference in November, please be sure to ask us about the tool and how we can help tailor the tool for your needs.

Dyan Brasington


In 2014, leaders from Towson University began talking about how the University could harness our connections and provide a forum that would empower women with new leadership skills. We wanted to create a forum where women leaders could gain more self-awareness and create positive changes in their organizations and communities. Out of those conversations came the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women.

Feedback for the Professional Leadership Program for Women

In January 2015, we welcomed seventeen leaders from a diverse background of leadership roles into our inaugural class. The semester included panel discussions, group and individual coursework taught by recognizable leaders from our area, and one-on-one coaching. At the end of the semester, through discussions with those who participated, it became clear to me that we had something very special here.

“The semester was life-changing. We had opportunities to look within ourselves and to take the time to work to be the leaders we can be and know we are. The partnerships I created with my colleagues from my semester is amazing. I know that if I need anything, I could reach out and they would be there for me.”

Kristie Snedeker
Director of Clinical Operations, UMMC-Shock Trauma
program alumna

“My biggest take away was ‘Think less. Take action. Be authentic.’ I use this not only at work but at home as well.”

Erin Adams-Ports
Development Director, United Way of Central Maryland
program alumna

From the early planning stages, we prioritized making sure there were immediate take-aways for participants to bring back to their organizations after each session. Our regional employers and leaders told us this would be a critical asset to the program’s sustainability and value.

“You’ve all heard the buzzwords – networking, values, coaching – but this program puts them into action.”

“My colleague benefited, but Leg Mason benefitted too. (Meggan) is now a more confident leader is more confident in being a role model in our organization.”

“It was a great return on our investment.”

Stephanie Beran
Managing Director, Legg Mason
speaking about her colleague, Meggan Saulo, who graduated from the 2015 Program

We assessed and evaluated every component of last year’s program and requested feedback throughout. Something we heard over and over again was that the deliberate mix of individuals in the program that spanned across industries, government and nonprofit organizations, was one of the most enriching parts of the experience.

“The program starts with an organization recognizing it has talent and knowing it wants that talent to succeed and thrive. When I heard about this program, it really fit the bill for what we were looking for. Tracy was new to the organization and showed a great deal of promise. We wanted to give her an opportunity to grow and excel and this program was the perfect fit. What we recognized was that she came back and was more confident and eager to take on more responsibility.”

“The program also provides a turn-key support system that she can call on to provide support and mentorship. That’s invaluable.”

Larry Twele
CEO, Howard County Economic Development Authority
speaking about his colleague, Tracy Turner, who graduated from the 2015 Program

Professional Leadership Program for Women Preview Event

We held a preview event for the upcoming 2016 class last week. We were so happy that dozens of potential candidates were able to hear the benefits of the program from the first-hand accounts of alumnae and program instructors. Christine Aspell serves as one of our program speakers and as Managing Partner for KPMG is a visible voice for women’s leadership across our region. Christine summed the program up nicely when she said, “It’s about the connections and bonds that are formed. It’s a meaningful program that allows women to change their lives and other’s lives as well.” She ended by saying, “You have two hands, one to push yourself forward and the other to pull others along with you.”

Apply for the Next Professional Leadership Program for Women Class

With one class under our belt we couldn’t be more confident in the need, uniqueness, impact, and approach of our program. This January we will welcome our second class. If you or a colleague are interested in becoming part of this growing leadership network, click here to receive an application and a program schedule.

Here is a look at our preview event.



The elimination of the proposed Redline and the lack of any alternative transit plan or even a comprehensive transit plan that would enhance the efficient movement of individuals in all directions within the metro area and specifically the City was tragic. However, I am pleased that some of the money will go to improve the aging Maryland highway infrastructure system. Now, before everyone jumps down my throat for what I am about to write, my focus is purely on the commercial aspects of the highway system. While I certainly do not want to discount the traffic woes of the everyday commuter, myself included, I recognize that highways serve a purpose of not just enabling employees to get to work but also the expedient delivery of goods and services to a wide array of customers.

Maryland Highway Infrastructure Generates Jobs

Maryland Highway InfrastructureApproximately 65% of all cargo by value is delivered by trucks and another 11% is through multimodal-rail to truck. Over three quarters of the cargo by value is transported along some road surface, most likely highways. Moreover, the trend in freight has been smaller and lighter, but high-value commodities as well as just-in-time manufacturing has put pressure on the trucking industry to deliver. However, the ability to deliver these vital goods and services to their designated places is wholly dependent on an efficient highway system.

The building and maintaining of highway infrastructure generates jobs and output, but just like a business owner who purchases new equipment to increase productivity, investments in highway infrastructure do increase productivity and therefore economic growth. In a 1998 study, The Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) at Towson University estimated that investments and improvements in highway infrastructure over the period 1982 through 1996 contributed 4% to Maryland’s economic growth over that period. This 4% growth is not related to the economic gains due to the construction of the highways but to their operation. This is a critical distinction.

Impact of Maryland Highway Infrastructure to the Economy

Maryland Highway InfrastructureThat sounds impressive maybe? According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) website, Maryland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1997 was around $215 billion in constant dollars, and by 2014, Maryland’s GDP had increased to around $320 billion in constant dollars. Over the 17-year period from 1997 to 2014, Maryland’s economy grew by $106 billion (constant dollars), of which our state highway system contributed nearly $4.25 billion to the economic growth due to its operational aspects.

Every year, on average, the highway system contributes nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to Maryland’s economy in terms of increased efficiency allowing trade of goods and services to reach their destinations. The loss of the Redline is tragic and with no real alternative plan will continue to hinder Baltimore City’s ability to move people efficiently across the region. However, the improvements in the highway system will enable Maryland to continue its economic growth, and perhaps that increased prosperity can be used to address some of our transportation challenges.



There’s a gem hiding in the Enrollment Services building on TU’s campus – Building STEPS. Building STEPS, headquartered here on campus, is a non-profit that provides Baltimore City public high school students interested in science and technology with the exposure, support, and safety net to help them get into and graduate from college. Almost all Building STEPS students are low-income and will be the first in their family to earn a college degree. The program provides professional seminars, summer internships, college workshops, and alumni support to its students.

Building STEPS has been a partner of TU since 2006 and the university is always looking for ways to get more involved with the program. Exciting changes have been happening at Building STEPS and with the partnership that should help further the mission of the non-profit and provide more opportunities for collaboration.

Changes at Building STEPS

Building STEPS

Paige Lawal, Associate Program Director of Building STEPS

First, Paige Lawal has joined the Building STEPS team as the Associate Program Director. In this role, Paige will be involved in all aspects of student programming from planning to implementation. Paige will be instrumental in maintaining the partnership between TU and Building STEPS because she’s a Tiger herself! She graduated from Towson in 2012 with a BS in Communication Studies. If you see her around campus, be sure to say “Hi!”

Another exciting development is that the TU-Building STEPS partnership was recently awarded a Pepsi grant for the college access workshops that Building STEPS provides every year. These workshops help students create a list of schools to apply to, prepare their applications, and analyze their acceptance offers to make the best decision for their college education. This Pepsi grant will help offset some of the costs associate with the workshops, which will help Building STEPS provide even more quality programming to its students.

I know I always enjoy working with Debra, Leah, and now Paige at Building STEPS and am always on the lookout for more ways to collaborate and connect the program with other areas on campus. Luckily, it seems as though the feeling is mutual!

Debra Hettleman, Executive Director of Building STEPS, had this to say about the partnership, “Building STEPS is thankful for our partnership and many connections with Towson. They have supported our students and our organization, ensuring even more Baltimore City high school students earn a college degree.”

The Division of Innovation and Applied Research, and TU in general, are so lucky to have partnerships like the one with Building STEPS. This partnership really represents what it means to collaborate with a community organization to tackle big issues. Here’s looking forward to another decade of partnership!

Frank Bonsal III Director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University


EdTech VocabularyThe following ten terms are key vocabulary for all innovative and entrepreneurial educators and education entrepreneurs, or anyone who wants to stay current in education innovation.




The Who of EdTech

First, let me highlight the two professional personas that drive the rationale for this post.


Edupreneur: You have spent considerable time in the classroom or as an administrator. You encountered a massive problem that could not be solved from your then current perch. You disrupted yourself and became an entrepreneur working outside the formal educational environment but stay closely connected. You are an edupreneur.

Teacherpreneur: You have spent considerable time in the classroom and are eternally, intellectually curious. You have or exemplify a ‘growth mindset’. You have two friends who used to be active in your PLN but are now ensconced in building edtech companies where you frequently advise product build. You attend monthly edtech meetups and just re-signed your annual teacher contract for the fifth time. You love working with kids and can toggle seamlessly between academic and industry realms. You are a teacherpreneur.

“Teacherpreneurs are classroom experts who teach students regularly, but also have time, space, and reward to incubate and execute their own ideas — just like entrepreneurs!”

— Barnett Barry, CEO, The Center for Teaching Quality


The How of EdTech

Moving from the Who to the How, below are critical pedagogical ways in which education can benefit from 21st century’s gifts and complexities.


One-to-One (aka 1:1): You give every learner dedicated access to a digital device, moreover the internet and a plethora of learning-centric apps, sites, and platforms and you have a one-to-one environment. See: Mooresville, NC, Houston ISD, and Baltimore County, MD as evolving district-wide examples of success. There must also be robust broadband access in these environs, which is often taken for granted.

Blended Learning: You ‘blend’ or create hybrid learning by using pedagogy (teaching methodology) that melds (or blends) classroom and online learning. Instruction is guided by both teacher interaction and digital devices. The Christensen Institute is a highlighted thought leader in this nascent but important pedagogy.

N.B. Flipped instruction is a form of blended learning, whereby students watch or interact with lecture material (often in video or web form) outside of class, then practice and demonstrate what they learned in a place-based environment. See: Khan Academy as the most widely known example.

Competency-Based Education (#CBE): CBE is a movement to lessen the emphasis on seat time, in favor of personalized mastery at a student’s own pace. CBE strategies provide flexible credit offerings (micro-credentialing and credit transferability) and utilize flexible blended or hybrid methodologies. Early CBE traction is found more in postsecondary education than K-12 but look for high school trends and watch New Hampshire, Ohio, and Michigan. More Info: College for America at SNHU, Straighterline, Western Governors, New Hampshire DOE

Adaptive Learning: You have time in the schedule for supplemental learning fit to each student. An adaptive process is a personalized, typically software or machine-translation process where learning and content is tailored to each student’s pace and level. More Info: EdSurge, Knewton, Smart Sparrow, and Think Through Math.

EdTechProject-Based Learning (#PBL): You use thematic or project-based learning in situations where interdisciplinary instruction can infuse deeper learning and often real-world application. In the late 1990s, I taught 5th and 6th Grade English-History using historical fiction, the writing process, interwoven grammar instruction, and used virtual and terrestrial field trips. We used student and teacher-created rubrics to evaluate progress, but it was the reports, presentations, the actual student work that yielded the glow, the indelible learning. Albeit sometimes messy along the way, my students and I loved these project-based experiences.


The What of EdTech

Finally, we move from the Who and the How to the What.


Open Educational Resources (OER): You like to share, are a giver much more than a taker. According to the Hewlett Foundation, “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” This includes open courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other open tools and materials used to support learning.

Personal Learning Network (#PLN): You have a dynamic PLN, if you have an informal network of professionals who have been curated to support and improve your pedagogical craft on a daily or weekly basis. As classroom teaching is often isolating, teachers create PLNs (often online chats and networks) to meet other teachers for advice and support. Participate in #edchat for ideas.

STEM (and STEAM): STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Increasingly, we see these domains availed in experiential and interdisciplinary ways. The A in STEAM, that’s for Art. You infuse the right brain into STEM and you have magic, you have Einstein. I stuck STEM in the What part of this post, but it just as easily could be in the How part. Ultimately, STEM aligns students with careers and professional pathways. Not small outcomes. STEM may well be the most life-changing, discipline-based focus of the 21st Century.


Final Thought on EdTech

All things considered, the above list must evolve and be dynamic. You should, too. Stay focused — but keep your head up and adapt. It is so much more fun that way.




On September 29, Presidential Scholar Dr. Nancy Grasmick will welcome New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Green to Towson University. This is the 6th event in Dr. Grasmick’s Preparing for Public Education in the 21st Century: Signature Forums speaker series that began in January 2013. This free event will take place at Towson University West Village Commons, 4-6 PM.



What Makes a Teacher Great?

Elizabeth GreenGreen will discuss her latest book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone). In her book, Green presents teaching as a complex skill—one that requires infrastructure for support and training. She explores the diverse skills exceptional teachers must develop, provides a new way for teachers, parents, and policymakers to judge what is needed in the classroom—and considers how to make every teacher great.


During her talk, Green will answer questions like:


BetterTeacherWhat happens in the classroom of a great teacher?

• How do we better prepare teachers for the classroom?

• How can parents determine what their child needs in the classroom?


Paperback copies of Building a Better Teacher will be available for purchase at the Forum and following her talk she will be on-site signing books. I hope you can join us on September 29 from 4-6 p.m. in the West Village Commons. Seats are limited — register today.


About the Signature Forums

Signature ForumsThe Preparing for Public Education in the 21st Century: Signature Forums speaker series focuses on providing Maryland’s education leaders, parents, teachers, and policy makers with access to the newest information and research on current and pertinent education topics. These forums provide a unique opportunity for education stakeholders to interact with national experts at the top of their field and access to the most up-to-date research for teacher preparation.


Regina Asala


Early Wake-Ups, Sad Children, and School Shopping!

It’s that time of year again! Summer has officially ended and everyone will be affected. Students have to wake up early to not miss a school bus. Students are unhappy that they will have daily or weekly homework. Parents have to wake up early to ensure their children do not miss a school bus or to take them to school. Parents have to fight through increased traffic to get to work on-time. Besides the frustrations of the back-to-school season, the effects on the economy are rewarding.


Back-to-School Boosts the Economy

Back-To-School shopping has huge economic impact

Typical Back-to-School shopping display

Beginning in August, parents begin back-to-school shopping for their school-aged children. This time of the year is extremely profitable and provides a boost in retail sales for the nation’s economy. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association. It conducts survey research on the state of retailing, marketing and merchandising, and its impact on the nation’s economy. According to the NRF, back-to-school spending has increased by 42 percent between 2005 and 2015. As of July 2015, “back-to-school sales for kindergarten through grade 12 and college students to reach a total of $68 billion.” Of the $68 billion, $24.9 billion stems from shopping for K-12. Back-to-school shopping marks the second largest consumer spending period, after Black Friday through the Christmas holiday.


During back-to-school season, the majority of shoppers (62.2%) will purchase items/products from discount stores. Other types of places to shop were department stores (56.4%), office supplies store (35.9%) and online retailers (35.6%). For the back-to-school shoppers, 73.1 percent started shopping 2 weeks to a month before school starts. Therefore, it is important for smart retailers (large and small) to create early deals and savings that will spark consumers to spend, spend, and spend!


Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week

Back-To-School Tax-Free Week

Tax-free week “is important for the consumers of the state and small business and the state’s economy.”

Since 2007, Maryland has embarked on a way to increase spending with the ‘Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.’ During the week of August 9th -15th, consumers enjoy tax-free spending when purchasing apparel and footwear – $100 or less. Comptroller Peter Franchot emphasized that the tax-free week “is important for the consumers of the state and small business and the state’s economy.” Consumer spending has increased by 10 percent during this tax-free week! Not only does this increase revenue for Maryland retailers, it is also a “gift for taxpayers.”



I am a mother of two toddlers who are in daycare. When my children begin kindergarten, I will become a parent shopping for the back-to-school season and help the economy with my spending as well!