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Baltimore County schools turn to Md. company to build online courses

Katie Egan

Katie Egan

With the evolution of technology in the classroom, teachers can be stretched beyond their original mission of helping students learn the material.

Baltimore startup CourseArc developed a content creation platform that simplifies the process of creating an online course to help alleviate that problem.

“We wanted a tool for curriculum development that allowed our subject matter experts to be subject matter experts and not be computer programmers,” said Stefani Pautz, coordinator of blended learning and innovation for Baltimore County Public Schools.

Monday, CourseArc announced that it had entered a partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools to allow the county’s more than 500 curriculum writers to use the platform.

CourseArc works using a block system, letting creators pick what elements of a website or course go where. It also maintains consistency of colors, fonts and logos across an organization’s different courses.

Katie Egan, who co-founded CourseArc with Bethany Meyer, was a teacher before working as an independent consultant creating online content for organizations. After years of complaining about how there was no easy system to help organizations, Egan and Meyer decided to create one on their own.

“To a certain extent we were shocked that nothing had been developed,” Egan said. “The whole idea came to us to build CourseArc because, at the time that we were doing this ourselves, there were no products on the market to create accessible content.”

Their software targets not just schools and universities, but also companies that want to create human resources and compliance courses.

At Baltimore County Public Schools, the software could help ease their approach to “blended learning,” where students learn in traditional environments and also through technology. The county began training curriculum writers on the platform this summer.

“After 20 minutes in the tool, all of our teachers were saying, ‘Wow this is easy and we’re really excited to work with it,’” Pautz said.

In one example Pautz described, teachers can upload an image and click on spots to input information. Then students can click the same spot to see the information. Something that previously required some coding knowledge now takes a couple of clicks.

CourseArc described that ease of access as a potential cost saver for clients.

“The potential for savings is tremendous,” Egan said. “Everyone has access. … We don’t need to train them. There’s no onboarding because it’s very intuitive.”

At this stage of the company, Egan and Meyer believe they have a fully formed product. They just need to expand their sales.

They work out of Betamore in Baltimore and the Towson University Incubator, which focuses on education technology. They’ve also received funding from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and Maryland’s VOLT Fund in the last year.

“Right now, we’re just ready to grow,” Egan said, an opportunity Baltimore County Public Schools provides.

Already, the school system is one of the company’s biggest clients with just the curriculum writers. If the platform moves into the classrooms, CourseArc could be used by many of the teachers at one of the country’s largest school districts.

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to correct an erroneous third reference that should have been to Bethany Meyer.


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