#Edu2023 – Hope not Hype

I attended the QS Reimagine Education Conference in Philadelphia in December 2022, my seventh year in a row attending, and this blog post is about what I think are the most important takeaways for our 6 – 20 learners’ education in N. America for the next five to ten years. 

Entrance to University of Pennsylvania. Stencil artist unknown.

Main Takeaways

  • Innovation IS the curriculum. Every single classroom is an incubator of ideas and projects, and every single school and district is an accelerator for sustainable student and teacher projects. In K-12, school districts need to support teachers as innovators and as coaches, guiding teams of students and individuals through various processes and artistic endeavour and scientific exploration in pursuit of solutions to problems that matter to our youth. 
  • The main competencies necessary for success are problem-solving, flexibility, agility, resilience, leadership, collaboration, and creativity, among others. AI will do much of the computational and analytical ‘heavy lifting’, but students need to work in teams to accomplish sustainable solutions to problems that matter to them – always with empathy at the core.
  • Artificial intelligence will augment teamwork and problem-solving, but it lacks heart and empathy, the centre of design thinking, and empathy is what must drive our public education system to support our democratic values. 
  • Web3 incentivizes student work and collaboration by ensuring attribution and ownership in the work that youth do in and outside of school, driving increased reputation and access to more opportunities, and in some cases ownership of IP and/or community assets. 
  • Learners need to meta-cognize their competency performance, and thus we need to better measure and communicate these competencies which will be crucial for learners to effectively participate in online (meta/eduverse) and offline learning networks, communities, and events, including classrooms.
  • We can help combat disinformation – a key destabilizer of democracy – by providing many more opportunities for critical thinking and creativity for our learners – the arts and science do this – full STEAM ahead!
  • AI might have a brain, but it lacks heart (for now) – heart makes us human, and heart (seen as empathy) is at the core of design thinking – we need to find our hearts again, and give youth hope for the future and some joy back in their lives, and we can help as educators,  families, and school systems by modelling sustainable innovation and gratitude daily.
  • Public schools in support of democracy need to encourage and support student voice, student happiness, and student change making, by giving them as many opportunities to engage in experiential learning, play, art and STEAM-based activities, and immersive learning – anything that gets students working in groups collaboratively to solve problems and develop their global competencies. 
  • Sustainability – anything and everything to do with sustainability counts. Youth care about sustainable practices and we must engage indigenous communities more in these conversations and projects.
Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson wrote that we must: Educate and inform the whole mass of the people . . . They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. 

The ‘Creep’

Signs are mixed right now that things will change for the better in our public schools, and I remain hopeful that we can work together to avoid ‘the creep’ back to our old ways of doing things, which were evidently not successful.

This blog post serves as both a notice and reminder to me of what we should be doing as responsible adults and caregivers to support our youth to be creative and resilient innovators, and ultimately happy and hopeful human beings with agency and voice. 

I have been a member of Reimagine Education since 2016, and as a judge and delegate have been in tune with global education efforts of all kinds – from government sponsored initiatives, to HigherEd programming, to global EdTech companies innovating scaled platforms, to brave individual innovators doing their best to help change the world.

Modelling innovation is one of the most important things we can do as educators and mentors, and so we all must become good at it, with empathy and heart, and our learners will follow suit.

As far as public education goes, compliance is out –  at least in North America where we need learners to be the creators, visionary entrepreneurs and artists, but also critical consumers and producers of media that support our democratic values.  

Move forward – educators need to model innovation with support from school districts and communities.


These above takeaways inform my programming as a middle school teacher in Toronto while myself, my students, and my school community try to better anticipate change and prepare for it. Any feedback is welcome, thanks for reading.

Rich B, January 8, 2023

Innovation in Education is a blog dedicated to innovating education. All work posted on this website is free to use under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International(CC BY-NC 4.0). All opinions and views expressed here are of the Principal.

#OpenSource #OpenInnovation #TheBootstrappingChecklist #ReimagineEdu #Innovation #Entrepreneur #ArtsEducation #EdTech #Local2Global #EdChat #EdTechChat #Iterate2Innovate #Ed3 #Eduverse #Lern2Ern #Education #Equity #NeverStopInnovating #PublicEducation #STEAM #Web3Educators #Web3 #ImmersiveLearning #Democracy #HigherEd #K-12 #HopeNotHype

Teaching Web3 in Schools

Public school districts in North America have an opportunity to [re]connect with our present generation of students by helping onboard them to web3. The benefits are potentially enormous and revolutionary to a generation of youth who have endured much hardship over the last few years. The primary benefit for these students is the ownership of their intellectual property in web3, a marked difference from web2 where content belongs to the big tech companies and not to the creators.

Web3 allows students to own, and potentially trade and get paid for the work that they do in or out of school – and many youth are already doing this in web3. In order for public schools to onboard many more to web3, the systems must see and help youth to see themselves more as creators, and not only as workers. This shift allows young people the opportunity to participate more fully in their local and global economies. Partnerships between students and the education systems they are a part of will help support this generation to benefit from web3.

Local and global student participation in web3 has the potential effect of reducing anxiety and violence in our schools, caused in many cases by lack of access local and global economies and ultimately a lack of hope. Web3 can provide many of the opportunities for economic and skill development that students need to regain their sense of hope, and school systems can help with this. But a balance must be struck – kids need access to arts education to learn the competencies required to be more independent creators in web3. Education systems that value democracy and support student voice can help with this.

Onboarding youth to web3 would give kids a better reason (other than compliance) to seek out educational opportunities that allow them to realize their passions alongside like minded global participants. It will also increase the creative output of students. They will be enabled to be the creators of the solutions required to meet the myriad challenges of our century. Public schools can either be a functional part of onboarding and educating this generation to web3, or continue as mechanisms of oppression that forces poor kids in front of computers all day while their affluent counterparts receive proper STEAM educations. 

Reading Marx at University about 30 years ago, I remember discussing theories of what his vision for work would look like in our future. My friends and I would talk about how robots would take over much of the menial work we require from so many. According to our reading of Marx, giving our work over to others is what alienates humans from our creative selves and as a result alienating ourselves from pretty much everything else. We do this to our youth when we deny them opportunities to become their most creative selves.

It’s no secret that our present capitalist economy has alienated practically all of us from our creative selves – or what Marx would have called Gattungswesen for the last few hundred years. Perhaps public education in the modern era has supported this alienation by viewing students too much as workers rather than as creators. Our global modern era requires legions of workers to build and maintain the cities we now mostly live in, and the cost of human suffering for those directly involved with the construction and maintenance of our global cities continues unabated. 

Our education systems in North America will still operate as systems designed to produce workers and not creators as long as our classrooms are places where student ‘output’ is predetermined, anticipated, and believed to be always measurable. A report card can be produced by either a teacher or artificial intelligence, as a display of the student’s ‘performance’ – i.e. suitability as a worker.  

The COVID pandemic has created the conditions for large EdTech companies to continue this modern trend of feeding the student content and collecting student data. The systems are increasingly designed to measure the student’s consumption of this content (in real-time), and produce reports of the student’s consumption of said content based on predetermined measurable outcomes. Completion of these outcomes (test, essay etc.), allows for access to the next lesson or task set by the computer, more or less difficult.

As a result, student consumption is measured and tracked and real-time feedback is or will be simultaneously delivered to all ‘stakeholders’, who now often include student, parent, teacher, admin, and of course the EdTech companies delivering these tech solutions. How this real-time data is inputted in the system becomes most problematic – teachers don’t have the time to collect it all, but surveilling computers do.

These growing unified technology solutions provided by large EdTech companies are built to determine and identify the youth as a worker first, and not as a creator, whose visions and dreams and passions are developed and nurtured by the child with the community’s help and support. The artistic outcomes and their results are not yet predetermined, and thus difficult for an algorithm to predict, measure and report on, though likely not impossible.

As a middle school teacher I see the daily result of a system that premeasures humans at the height of brain function (see Piaget’s Formal Operational Stage). It often produces aggression, hopelessness, frustration, apathy and inattention from youth who realize at an early age that the economic system the school is designed to get them ready for, was not built for them, and does not see them as creative entities. Many youth reject compliance laden tasks viscerally when viewed simply as workers, and perhaps they should. 

When viewed as a creator, youth gain confidence, take more risks, and become more tolerant and skillful working with others. They get better at problem-solving and dealing with ambiguity. They start to regulate their emotions better and their relationships in and out of school improve. Violence decreases, creativity begins to flourish, and the outcomes from students begin to become more and more unpredictable, surprising and sometimes awe inspiring. As one scholar I know put it “work that we have no right to expect from them!”. 

As the technology becomes more accessible, perhaps a more moderate view is required in the shorter term as we educate more teachers and students and their families to the benefits of web3. Of course we need workers, and everyone should perhaps have a ‘bread and butter’ income if they can, whatever that looks like. But youth will need to be both workers and creators, and public schools must temper their compliance requirements while also offering arts based or STEAM education in order to help make our youth future ready by teaching them competencies necessary to be disciplined and empathetic creators.

Web3 and tokenomics and NFTs are all instruments of investment, and students and their families, and schools and their districts, can put in their consideration – or stake – by investing in the skills students can perform now and will need in the future to become savvy global participants, which is what ownership of intellectual property in web3 allows. I believe public schools in North America can help move our youth closer to become the creators we are meant to be, likely with the help of AI and good teachers, and let the robots do the rest.

Thank you https://twitter.com/DaganBernstein for your support.

Innovation in Education wins Bronze at the Reimagine Education Awards and Conference.

Innovation in Education wins Bronze in the USA & Canada Regional Category at the Reimagine Education Awards and Conference for our program The Bootstrapping Checklist.

Wharton-QS Reimagine Education Awards 2021

Announced: 2021’s educational ‘Oscar’ winners

London 10th December: 2021’s most exciting, effective new approaches to teaching and learning have been announced by QS Quacquarelli Symonds and The Wharton School, after a gruelling competition comprising eight months, 1350 applicants, and five rounds of close expert scrutiny: the Reimagine Education Awards.

Reimagine Education 2021 shed light on the excellence of innovative solutions enhancing learning outcomes and employability for a future billion learners. In addition to the three overall awards, it rewarded innovation in sixteen main award categories (including AI, VR/AR, e-learning, educational apps and more), six disciplines (arts & humanities, business education, engineering & IT, life sciences, natural sciences and social sciences) and regional awards. Winners hail from 27 countries.

The Reimagine Education Awards are open to edtech companies, universities, schools, and educational non-profits worldwide. Contested by applicants from eighty-four nations, they seek to offer global higher education a platform through which outstanding pedagogical innovation can be identified and rewarded. 

Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO, QS and co-founder of Reimagine Education, said: “At the end of the second disruptive year for global higher education, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to offer a platform to the projects, pedagogies, and solutions that represent the future of educational provision. With over 300 independent judges participating in the evaluation process, plus a distinguished 20 persons Grand Jury, our winners have received the unequivocal backing of expert educationalists across the world. They should take exceptional pride in their achievement.” 

Thank you to the Reimagine Steering Committee and QS Quacquarelli Symonds, my family and friends, and my dedicated #bootstrappers – #NeverStopInnovating

Rich Baxter, BEd, LLM, BFA

Principal, Innovation in Education

The full list of winners can be found here: https://content.qs.com/re21/Reimagine_Education_Winner_List_20211215.pdf

TBC 2.0 and the Culture of Abundance

The nature and purpose of global education is changing dramatically and purposeful online communities that offer proper attribution for work completed are revolutionizing the way people exchange ideas, communicate, and learn. 

Advances in blockchain technology offer an alternative economy based in attribution – the more a student participates in an online learning community and the more their attribution can be secured and assured via encryption and blockchain technology, the more their reputation will increase in the community, the more leverage they will have within that community and also outside of our broader capitalist economy, and thus the more incentive they will have to participate. 

The decentralisation of education and learning is happening by mobilizing learning where students participate, to help solve some of the world’s deepest problems and facilitate commerce and income generation, with mentoring from teachers, professionals, academia and community members.

In its second phase after successful implementation in classroom settings, both in person and fully online, TBC 2.0 is scaling as an open student project commons, where students and mentors will have access to the commons to share projects, support their online portfolios and digital credentials, and gain actionable feedback in a peer-to-peer learning environment with collaboration and feedback as central deliverables. 

In the 2020-21 school year, grade 7 online student participants received digital badges from HighTechU and mentoring from the African Coding Network. The collaboration within our virtual classroom mirrors at the micro-level the way the African Coding Network collaborates at the macro-level (using Github, Google Suite, Discord, and storytelling), thus the techniques, technology and competencies are globally scalable and increasingly accessible.

Digital Badge from HighTechU

Physical borders have been transcended. Bricks-and-mortar schools might still need to exist, but they are now parts of emerging local and global learning ecosystems. Online peer-to-peer learning communities are where participants are able to develop their reputations, their skill sets and their competencies, receive actionable feedback for continuous improvement, which inevitably will lead to employability and a global culture of information abundance which will rival and hopefully compliment our aging global capitalist economies.

The key to active student participation is attribution, and attribution is ensured and incentivized in our online learningverse using the concepts of blockchain – in GitHub, student participants’ work is forever attributed to those who do the work, and this increases their reputation and thus learning. In our commons, students borrow from past students’ works, but their brand cards ensure attribution.

TBC 2.0 is a movement and a pedagogy that is anti-oppressive in design, with equity at its centre, that encourages empathy, story telling, data collection and sharing and collaboration between youth with or without the support of a teacher. From a pedagogical standpoint, it’s a paradigm shift of power to the student. So, with or without teachers, TBC 2.0 is a global online learning network – not a competition. It is a place for youth to collaborate and get feedback from their global peer community – to connect and improve their portfolios and gain credentials and learn. 

TBC 2.0 is a proven social-entrepreneurship education program for students grade 6-12 serving the needs of some of our most vulnerable students. The promotion of online peer-to-peer learning gives students access to the collaboration and feedback that they need to grow portfolios, share, learn, and educate themselves. TBC 2.0 is located on GitHub and is meant to scale for students, by students – they write the code and administer the site with mentoring, to gain actionable feedback in a peer-to-peer learning environment with collaboration and feedback as central deliverables. 

The imminent disruption of educational bureaucracies toward decentralized peer-to-peer online learning networks where attribution of student work will be ensured by blockchain, thus compelling competent participation of community members thereby attracting mentoring, investment, HigherEd and employers, in order to address present local/global systemic inequities and propel a global information [r]evolution, has already begun. TBC 2.0 is a step toward this [r]evolution as it puts the power to the students in a decentralized global learning network, unified by a five step workflow.

Special thank you to Andrew MacLean and Warwick Vlantis for your support! (I learned the term “Culture of Abundance” from Warwick).

Rich Baxter


Rich Baxter is founder, educator and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education. The Bootstrapping Checklist was Shortlisted in the Teaching Delivery Category and Showcased in December 2016 and again Shortlisted in the K12 in December 2020 at the Reimagine Education Awards.  We won Bronze for the 2021 USA & Canada Regional Awards.

TBC 2.0 Shortlisted to 2021 Reimagine Awards

Educators Share What Edtech Entrepreneurs Should Know

I want to thank Robyn D. Shulman for the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing discussion about technology in education in a recent article in Forbes online:

Voices From The Field: Educators Share What Edtech Entrepreneurs Should Know

From Robyn:

“In this article, which will be a short series, teachers, superintendents and support staff from public schools around the country share their insights based on the following questions:

  • Why some teachers are afraid of technology
  • Best advice for entrepreneurs who want to go into education technology
  • What catches a teacher’s eye for a prospective product”

I’ve included my response here because as I go back into the classroom in a couple of weeks, I want to remain optimistic about the future of public education in Ontario, in Canada, and in the US.

I feel that ‘education’ is becoming more and more exclusive, and I don’t know that it has to be that way.  The facts remain that public schools are getting less funding, and that teaching as a profession is becoming less and less attractive to newcomers.

If public education is to thrive, two fundamental shifts need to happen;

  1. Teachers need to be supported.
  2. Schools need to become innovation hubs (you can read more about this idea in this website).

Here is my contribution to the article  –  I will try to expand on these ideas in the coming months, your comments are always appreciated.  Thank you, R

On Technology Resistance: Rich Baxter, 7th-grade educator says, “To use technology effectively, schools need to be places of innovation, and they are not designed to be so. So how can we expect teachers and students to use technology in productive ways? Our prime minister says Ontario classrooms are an environment that is generally hostile to teachers, so why would a teacher want to exacerbate that situation by innovating with technology?”

Best Advice For Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs who want to have an impact on student learning in a financially and socially meaningful way should spend resources marketing solutions directly to learners or their parents. We are facing a 69 million global teacher shortage by 2030.

The education space is not where the future is headed, and if we continue to use the term edtech, I think that’s where we are getting stuck.

Switch the term to learntech and market directly to the consumer – especially youth who are not and will not be served by our crisis-ridden education systems (with a few global exceptions) – and now an entirely new market of learners opens up. Global education and global learning to me are not the same things.

Global education is systemic, but global learning is personal, meaningful, and fulfilling, and the hope for our future survival and prosperity. But the [r]evolution must come from within us, with the humbling realization and the responsible acceptance that half the world’s population is carrying with them in their pockets in the form of mobile devices, the solution to all our global crises, and the other half is not.

I have been teaching for 25 years and have been innovating in my classroom for most of that time. My classroom went paperless around 2012 and technology hasn’t changed all that much since then. I espouse a hybrid approach that includes tasks that have both an analog side to their digital side – and this comes back to arts education, which is by nature technical.

Technology helps when students are encouraged to produce the media they also tend to consume. For example, they learn about dance by creating dance. They learn how to draw by drawing. They learn how to write by writing. They learn about video production by producing videos. Technology has to support and help implement those acts of creation, and I think a lot of the technology that was created years ago still isn’t being used properly now.

Catching An Educator’s Eye: I am interested in edtech products that help learners realize their creative visions mainly through arts or entrepreneurship practice, which by nature are technical endeavors, but the technology doesn’t always equate to digital, and there should always be hybrid solutions available to learners. So as entrepreneurs do we invest money and time creating new technology or do we invest by creating awareness of how to use the technology that already exists? I advocate for creating awareness and giving hope so that people know that they can learn – and I don’t think you need education systems to achieve this goal.

Rich Baxter is a founder, educator, and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education. His program The Bootstrapping Checklist was Shortlisted in the Teaching Delivery Category and Showcased on December 5, 2016 and December 4, 2017 in Philadelphia at the Reimagine Education Awards and again in 2020 and exists in the Creative Commons as an open innovation project. Rich is a judge in the K-12 category for Reimagine.

K12 E-Badge Continue reading Educators Share What Edtech Entrepreneurs Should Know

Innovating In Public Schools Made (a bit) Easier

If you are a teacher and you are creating a really cool program in your classroom you should scale it globally. But if you think you should also make money from scaling your awesome program, it’s probably not the best way to go about it.

To innovate in a school setting, going the open source or open innovation route, however you define it, is probably your best choice.  Likely, a combination of proprietary and non-proprietary intellectual property scenarios might be more favourable.  Below is a list of things that in my experience are important to consider – please feel free to comment.*

As a public school teacher going the proprietary route in terms of IP would lead to many conflicts of interest –  a non-proprietary route (or at least a mix) is much easier.

You have to ‘give it away’. Some teachers or students might have problems about giving their work away. Of course, you always need a ‘bread and butter’ gig that pays the bills. But on top of that, participation in a coding or entrepreneurial community (or similar), to gain experience, knowledge, and reputation is increasingly possible. Consider ‘giving your work away’ in exchange for these valuable assets.

Going the open innovation/open source route is a good model for students in schools as a basis for project based learning. Assuming they have access to internet, cloud computing, and [mobile] devices, students can innovate using increasingly available webtools. The ‘soft skills’ learned by working in teams to solve problems are transferable and sought after by both the private and public employment sectors.   

Service learning, project based learning, entrepreneurship education, and STEAM are all well served when students understand their level of IP commitment, especially because cloud computing now allows for student projects to last over many years. A lot of work can go into a three or four year project, and a proprietary IP stance won’t likely stimulate innovation or cooperation.

If it’s innovated at school, student (and teacher) work in the form of cloud stored portfolios should be saved and shared in a school improvement repository/library/bank –   a sort of ‘creative commons’ for the local community – viewable by parents, staff, students, district supervisors and trustees. This data can also be used to attract mentoring or outside partnerships and/or investment, in effect transforming the school into an innovation hub with classroom as incubator and school as accelerator.

However you define open source (I’m studying Github Open Source Guides), the tools available for working this way are becoming more and more available. Google, AWS, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin are all free or relatively cheap tools for scaling your awesome program. Twitter is extremely powerful, and although ‘following’ and ‘liking’ is not supposed to imply reciprocity, if used well it can inspire collaboration.

Choosing the more non-proprietary route, teachers can be more assertive (i.e. pushy) at acquiring resources for their students.  Resources can come in the form of funding, mentoring, and equipment, to promotion on social media, and so on.

School district legal departments can more easily facilitate this type of open innovation by providing teachers and students with some basic IP guidelines. Also, teachers and students need to do their homework and learn more about IP law.

We can use and grow our present internet age economy of knowledge abundance. It is not constructive to stray too far to any one side of the non-proprietary or proprietary debate – we all need to mix it up according to our circumstances. Education can share the hope and skills that our internet age brings, and open source and open innovation projects can make local and global solutions happen.

*This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. Thanks!

Rich Baxter is a founder, educator, not a lawyer, and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education. The Bootstrapping Checklist was Shortlisted in the Teaching Delivery Category and Showcased on December 5, 2016 and December 4, 2017 in Philadelphia at the Reimagine Education Awards and exists in the Creative Commons as an open innovation project.

When teachers or groups of students download the slide deck and then try the 5-step process, I wish them to post videos about their experiences on our YouTube or Twitter – this is how we are building community.


#opensource #openinnovation #BootstrappingChecklist #bootstrappers #ReimagineEdu #socialinnovation #entrepreneur #education #artseducation #edtech #edchat #edtechchat #local2global #iterate2innovate #neverstopinnovating

Why (Not) Teach Entrepreneurship in Public Schools?


Entrepreneurial skills such as resilience, focus, commitment, developing relationships, self-reflection, and a positive attitude are not intuitive skills. They take practice and dedication and it becomes a momentous event for a young student to begin to understand that just because they may not already have many of these skills, it doesn’t mean that they will never be able to develop them. This revelation for many kids lifts a weight for those that begin to grasp that skills are developed through dedication and practice, and that because these can be learned and taught, they become very much accessible to all students.

We are generally predisposed as humans to shy away from conflict – our first reaction is almost always the wrong one – and so teaching kids to embrace change and challenge as opportunities is critical at an early age if they are to grow into adults who will be able to excel in our uncertain future workforce. So entrepreneurial and change management skills are important skills to teach in our classrooms.

One of the things I notice through the Bootstrapping Checklist is how students learn to relate to each other in a more respectful and professional way – they start to look at school as an opportunity to practice skills to help them relate to each other in a professional manner in order to try to realize their project visions.

Students learn to separate their behaviour from their personal identities, meaning that if they behave badly out of frustration or anxiety during a tough team meeting, it doesn’t mean that ‘that’s who they are’. It means they behaved badly in a stressful situation and entrepreneurial education of this type teaches kids to recognize and respond to challenge, rather than simply and continually reacting to stress.

Thus students begin to objectively see how their language and the way they and their peers speak to each other can positively or negatively impact the group’s success. They also learn that problem solving is hard, that getting frustrated is normal, and that there are specific skills and strategies that can be applied to mitigate the difficulties of complex problem solving.

I claim that the Bootstrapping Checklist can produce ‘cohorts of students who are more than HigherEd ready’ – and what this really means is that students learn to understand what agility looks like in a constantly changing and unpredictable global and local employment market. A fundamental quality of the Bootstrapping Checklist is what I call guided iterative inquiry – it is very much process oriented design thinking, heavily influenced with the Japanese concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement.

Teachers are fortunate in Ontario because we have a lot of freedom to plan curriculum delivery in our classrooms, and Ontario is a global education leader in inquiry and project- based learning, but we need to go further and normalize ‘cultures of innovation’ in our schools – and so teachers must take up the mantels of ‘teacherpreneurs’ and model this mindset for the students daily.

I go as far to suggesting that schools, especially middle and high schools, should be turned into ‘innovation hubs’, where the classroom is project incubator and the school/district is accelerator – cloud computing and iterative design thinking can practically support student projects over years – with the potential of student projects actually deploying in communities.

This is a paradigm shift of the purpose of our education system – to produce students who are not only skilled at change management, but who critically have not lost their desire to be imaginative, empathetic and creative people who are excited at the opportunities that constant change and uncertainty produce. We need to teach our kids never to lose their brilliance, and schools need to support this creative drive from the beginning to middle school, to high school, and beyond.

Rich Baxter is an educator and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education in our public schools. He is honoured to be a Judge in the K-12 Category for the 2017 and 2018 QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards.


#opensource #openinnovation #TheBootstrappingChecklist #ReimagineEdu #socialinnovation #entrepreneur #artseducation #edtech #local2global #edchat #edtechchat

Wharton QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards 2016 and the Bootstrapping Checklist

Dinner Gala at the National Constitution Centre, Philadelphia, Dec. 6, 2016

The following was posted on the Information and Communications Technology Council website as a guest blog:


I had the honour to present The Bootstrapping Checklist at the Reimagine Education Awards in Philadelphia on December 5, 2016.

The power of guided iterative design such as The Bootstrapping Checklist is that it provides the seamless integration between pedagogy and technology needed to accelerate technology adoption by students and facilitate sustained entrepreneurial and socially innovative student projects. It is inherently mobile, social, and cloud based, and it demands that students use validated data to make design decisions.

I have been innovating education for over 20 years, and in that time have learned that a school board (i.e. district) has many jobs to fulfill, and helping teachers innovate at the classroom level is one of them.  Part of my job is to interpret global trends and deliver these as a service that satisfies my students, their families and me – this is real accountability, and three-part lessons or standardized tests just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

I know that guided iterative design (or guided iterative inquiry) is likely the most important pedagogy teachers should be doing to successfully blend ICT and good teaching in our classrooms.  I understand why it might be hard for teachers to grasp that very soon we won’t be ‘marking’ anymore, and that machine learning and extreme personalization (the automated solution to what teachers like to call ‘differentiated learning’) will accomplish these tasks with the speed and accuracy impossibly achieved by any teacher.

Closing the gap between the ‘system top’  and the ground, where the Teacher is social entrepreneur, and leadership is shared among innovative Teachers, Principals, District Supervisors and the rest of the EdTech Innovation Ecosystem, as described by UPenn’s Bobbi Kurshan here –  http://bit.ly/2gOO816 –  is one critical challenge to overcome if we are to balance automation with our humanness in education, both locally and globally.

Teachers should now practice Project Management skills more to facilitate schools as innovation hubs (the classroom as incubator – the school board as accelerator), where guided iteration like The Bootstrapping Checklist will help students to glean the data needed for capital and resource acquisition specific to their community needs, using a truly constructivist learning model. The data can be used to build public and private community partnerships, and turn public schools into hybrid remote/physical community innovation hubs.

By properly combining pedagogy like The Bootstrapping Checklist and ICT, we can accelerate technology adoption and collaboration by middle and high school students to produce cohorts of students that are more than HigherEd ready, and we can start now to try to alleviate a projected year 2030, 25 million global teacher shortage by attracting the best and the brightest to the teaching profession.

We live within a dualism inherent to our physical universe, and the EdTech universe works the same way – we will never fully automate, and perhaps for global regions that are desperately in need of educational interventions, bringing in automation to initiate a support level of literacy and numeracy is an amazing idea, and I hope it does happen.

But these interventions are not the end goals, and will lay the foundation necessary to incite and produce teachers who can integrate the arts, entrepreneurialism, and social innovation to facilitate the human interactions needed to balance and sustain any system that we create.

The EdTech Innovation Ecosystem is rich and vast and will require participation from many varied players – but one thing I have learned is that any future reality is possible – we can build systems where technology fully automates education to the service of an oppressive few  – of this I have no doubt.

Much more suitable is the coexistence of extreme automation and human participation – this is the brave new world that excites me and my students. Good Ed/Tech Innovation occurs at the intersection of sound pedagogy and technology, and are thus critically complimentary.

Rich Baxter is an educator and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education in our public schools. The Bootstrapping Checklist was presented on December 5, 2016 in Philadelphia at the Reimagine Education Awards and exists in the Creative Commons as an open innovation project.

Special thanks to Kristan Uccello, Dr. Paul Kim CTO of GSE at Stanford, CTO at TDSB Peter Singh, and Salar Chagpar and Marc Lijour at Prepr.org


#opensource #openinnovation #TheBootstrappingChecklist #ReimagineEdu #socialinnovation #entrepreneur #artseducation #edtech #local2global #edchat #edtechchat #iterate2innovate

The Bootstrapping Checklist Shortlisted to the 2016 Wharton Reimagine Education Awards

reimagine-education-teaching-delivery-awardWe are proud to know that our work is engaging the most innovative educators in the world, and momentum to see our program scale has increased since we have been Shortlisted for the Reimagine Education Teaching Delivery Award 2016. My students know that their work is being considered internationally, and they are empowered to continue working hard to address issues that affect our community – this is our greatest success.

The power of guided iterative design such as The Bootstrapping Checklist is that it provides the seamless integration between pedagogy and technology needed to accelerate technology adoption by students and facilitate sustained entrepreneurial and socially innovative student projects. It is inherently mobile, social, and cloud based, and it demands that students use validated data to make design decisions.

Graduates keep visiting to receive updates about projects that they used to work on.

One project in particular, Broadcast Out Loud (BOL), is in its third year. BOL is a media service for the school community that will engage students on their mobile devices to keep them connected to school events. Over the past three years, about 30 students have worked on or are currently working on BOL – with the ultimate goal of actual deployment to classmates and the community.

The Bootstrapping Checklist is excellent training for students who need to practice the entrepreneurial ‘soft skills’ and 21st century competencies, as they learn to construct and to connect with each other in an impassioned and respectful way, fully anticipating the problems that lie ahead, and yet with an attitude toward committing to the process for the benefit of themselves, their families, and their communities.

Check out the program here:  https://bootstrappingchecklist.org

“We believe that the The Bootstrapping Checklist allows us to expand our knowledge and skills in mathematics (analytics, data management, graphing, etc.) and literary skills, while also creating a larger sense of independence, and giving us a taste of real world problems and entrepreneurial business. It is vastly different from what we have been doing for most of our school lives so far, however we see it as a positive difference and a new and interesting learning experience that improves academics while still being interesting.”  Grade 8 students, October 2016


Check out the competition here:   http://www.reimagine-education.com/


#TheBootstrappingChecklist #entrepreneur #socialinnovation #Reimaginers #ReimagineEdu #education #edtech #edchat #edtechchat #local2global