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Cisco Networking Academy: Connecting Students with New Opportunities

The Cisco Academy Support and Training Center at Towson University manages the Cisco academy training for high school and college students across the state. And, with the new school semester in progress, we are busy prepping for the remainder of the new school year About Cisco Networking Academy Cisco is a global corporation that provides solutions for networking, telecommunications, and advanced technology. One of Cisco’s main corporate social responsibility initiatives is to provide free education and training to instructors around the globe about their products. The Cisco Networking Academy learning management system is the online delivery system for the...

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Race to the Top Project, a CAIRE success

The Race to the Top (RTTT) grant has come to an end (see CAIRE and the Race to the Top and Evaluating the Implementation and Utilization of the Race to the Top Projects). This project has been a part of the Center for Application and Innovation Research in Education (CAIRE) for the past four years. As with any project that we spend a long time on, we are sad to see it go, but are very proud of the work accomplished. RTTT provided the CAIRE team with many opportunities to use our skill sets, both individually and collectively. Surveys Over the last several months the CAIRE team evaluated the impact and utilization of several individual RTTT projects. Surveys were a large part of the data gathering process. Each project had its own unique survey, and our team took much time and skill in creating surveys that would yield the data necessary to provide information to contribute to the decision making process. Interviews Throughout the entire RTTT project, CAIRE evaluators used personal interviews to gather information that can only be conveyed through direct contact with those people “in the trenches”. Talking directly to both Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) employees and local education agencies (LEA) employees, yielded useful impressions and a deeper insight into the success of a project that cannot be conveyed through surveys or test results. Data...

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Our Recent Compensation and Classification Project

One of the Division of Innovation and Applied Research’s strengths is its highly skilled staff. Another strength is its ability to call upon Towson University’s multitude of talented and knowledgeable faculty. Our latest project involved working with the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood Development (DECD) and Dr. Nhung T. Nguyen, an Associate Professor in the College of Business and Economics. DECD contacted the Division of Innovation and Applied Research with regard to a compensation and classification project. Bill Hansman took on the role of both analyst and project manager, and then reached out to the University for a subject matter expert to be part of the project team. Dr. Nguyen, who earned her PhD in Management from the Virginia Commonwealth University, was a perfect fit since compensation management is one of her areas of expertise. The team decided to use in-person interviews, and surveys, to meet the projects goal of analyzing the job duties at DECD. The team accomplished this by: Analyzing current job descriptions, which included reviewing the State’s MS-22 language and comparing that language with information that was received from the interviews and surveys. Comparing each employee’s resume with the knowledge and skills needed for his/her current position, and determining if the resume indicated if he/she was over or under qualified for that position. Reviewing the internal job structure from the data received, which...

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How Can Video Help Tell Your Story?

Everywhere I look I’m absorbing videos these days, in hallways, at train stops, on my favorite store’s website, and even in the check out line at the grocery store.  This of course is because, video is where it’s at!  Just check out these stats: 1 minute of video is equivalent to 1.8 million words Forbes indicates,  65% of senior executives have visited a company’s website after watching a video. Cisco expects video to account for 57% of consumer Internet traffic by 2015, nearly four times as much as regular web browsing and email. 81% of senior marketing executives now use online video content in their marketing programs, up from 70% in 2011, as reported by MarketingProfs. What does that have to do with us? Well, about a year ago we hired a talented senior, majoring in Electronic Media and Film, to produce a few videos that highlighted our staff members and projects.  Today, we’re excited to have Louis Vieira as a member of our team as the Division’s Video Production Specialist.  Under his leadership, we’ve expanded our portfolio to produce videos for other internal university departments, state agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies. With a professional marketing and video production team now in place we are able to offer guidance and expertise from concept development to the dissemination of the video. Here’s a sampling of some the types of videos we are producing: Promotional...

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Perspective from a new CAIRE team member

In past blog posts I’ve introduced what CAIRE is doing to support RTTT and discussed the how we are evaluating the implementation and utilization of the projects.  In this post I wanted to share the perspective of a “freshly minted” graduate who has recently joined the CAIRE team. Jessica Lake, RESI Research Assistant, recently graduated with a degree in Sociology from Brown University. What was your first impression of CAIRE’s work? When I began working on CAIRE, the initial thought of evaluating 54 projects was a bit overwhelming. However, as I’ve spent more time working in-depth on each project, I’ve found that the diversity of topics has made my job more intriguing and has allowed me to develop a higher degree of workplace versatility. Although all projects relate to the broad topic of education reform, each one has a unique purpose and intended impact on the education system. Some projects are focused on broad data systems, others are geared towards aiding educators, some are specifically targets towards students, and so forth. As such, my work has provided me with a broad range of insight, knowledge, and perspectives on the field of education that I could not have gained without such variety. How are you using what you learned in the classroom? During my time working with CAIRE, I have relied upon many of the skills that I developed during my...

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Evaluating the Implementation and Utilization of the Race to the Top Projects

In my previous blog CAIRE and Race to the Top, I provided an overview of what CAIRE means, who is involved with it, and how it relates to Race to the Top (RTTT). CAIRE‘s main function is to independently evaluate 54 distinct but interrelated projects. Many of these projects will be used to provide guidance and direction as the state endeavors to successfully implement the new Maryland Common Core Curriculum in all Maryland schools. The past year and half, CAIRE has been evaluating the implementation of RTTT in Maryland. Evaluating a large program presents itself with many challenges as to how and what to evaluate. The goal is to provide a thorough and objective evaluation that adds value for the program to make course corrections. To break the evaluations into manageable pieces, the Maryland RTTT program was conceived with three phases: Process/Product Utilization Impact Representatives of the CAIRE Team met each week with different RTTT project managers to discuss the process/product of the 54 RTTT projects. The purpose of these meetings was to review and document the status of each project from a management perspective, identify any risks associated with its completion, and if warranted, make recommendations to RTTT leaders to improve the project’s management. An evaluation plan was created that captures specific project information and then asked questions relating to the management of the project. The challenge in...

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CAIRE and Race to the Top

Within the RESI-Business Analysis and Management (BAM) group is a team of business analysts, project managers and economists working on the CAIRE project. CAIRE stands for the Center for Application and Innovation Research in Education and the team is getting ready to move onto to Phase II of one of the most important projects in the State of Maryland. This post will be the first in a series about BAM’s work with CAIRE.  Throughout the series, I will catch you up on the newest developments and impacts the project is having on improving education in Maryland.  I’ll inform you about this exciting project that crosses universities, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), state, and federal government agencies. First, what is CAIRE? CAIRE is a center of the University System of Maryland housed at Towson University (TU).  It’s supported by faculty and staff from several Maryland universities including, BAM staff members and faculty from TU’s College of Education, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Loyola, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  Our team, headed by TU College of Education Dean Dr. Ray Lorion, was created to assist the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) with evaluating the activities associated with the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. What is the RTTT grant? The RTTT grant is a federal grant from the US Department of Education (USDE) that MSDE applied for and received.  The...

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How do you write a RFP?

It’s time for another adventure into the world of Business Analysis (I know you’re excited).  In this blog I’m going to be discussing the process for developing a RFP, which you probably know stands for “Request for Proposal.”  I often interact with RFPs both in terms of creating them and responding to them.  RFPs are utilized to solicit potential vendors for the purchase of a good or service.  For instance, if your organization needed a new computer system for payroll, you would write an RFP to solicit vendors capable of completing the task. One reason it can be so difficult to write a RFP is that the information in the RFP does not explain how the system will function, but rather what the system needs to do. (See What Does Your System Require? for defining how a system will function.)  Now I know how your curious minds work Dear Readers, you are wondering: Who? needs to be involved in helping you write the RFP How? you should approach writing the RFP The Who? If you have been charged in writing a RFP, one of the first questions you ask yourself is who else needs to be involved?   Well the first people you need are the stakeholders, and not just management, but those people who will be using the new system. As a Business Analyst it has been my experience...

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Facebook and What I Thought I‘d NEVER Do

The only reason I joined Facebook was to see pictures of my friend’s new dog.  A year later I am addicted and not just to the games – okay I’ll admit I do have farms, restaurants and a mafia.  However, recently I have found that a social networking tool can actually be a learning experience. The first thing I never thought I’d do in relation to Facebook is allow my son to have his own page.  He uses the dog’s name because I am too over protective to actually let him use his own (it wasn’t until very recently I actually let him post a picture of himself, instead of a Transformer).  He asks us if he can friend people, prior to “friending” them, and my husband and I can log on as him to just “see” what’s going on. So far so good!  He now talks to his Aunt in CA and friends in Florida way more than he used to, and he is learning boundaries of what is appropriate for “posting” and what needs to stay at home.   I was so pleased to hear him comment how “dumb” some of his friends’ posts sounded. This experience is helping me learn how to let my “little” boy have some freedom.  Yes, I do log in as him to keep a check, but hey, I am the Mom and...

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