Category Archives: Uncategorized

Educators Share What Edtech Entrepreneurs Should Know

IMG_8979 (2)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 exists in the Creative Commons as an open innovation project. Rich is a judge in the K-12 category for Reimagine.


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

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.

The Bootstrapping Checklist is a global initiative because it uses  Twitter and YouTube to promote the program, and Github and AWS to build the website hosting the short slide deck on How to Run the Bootstrapping Checklist .

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


The Reimagine Education Conference and Awards, Dec. 2017

Thank you Reimagine Education for inviting me to another inspiring event and for allowing me the privilege of presenting again The Bootstrapping Checklist, an open innovation program happening in my classroom in Toronto. The program is a grassroots online student social network centered around social entrepreneurship.

As a an educator in Toronto, I am heartened by the work being accomplished at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. The Education Entrepreneurship Master’s Program is forging the alloy of Education Entrepreneurship with The Graduate School of Education, The Wharton Business School, The School of Engineering and Applied Science.

We need to attract the best and brightest ‘teacherpreneurs’ to help develop the next generation of teachers and support and inspire those who are innovating now in classrooms locally, nationally, and globally.

I have included the slide deck from my Bootstrapping Checklist 2017 Reimagine Education Presentation, but for ‘How to Run the Bootstrapping Checklist“, please click here.

Oh, and please check out my mention in Forbes – thanks Robyn Shulman!

Thank you,

Rich Baxter, December 2017





#opensource #openinnovation #BootstrappingChecklist #ReimagineEdu #socialinnovation #entrepreneur #artseducation #edtech #local2global #edchat #edtechchat #iterate2innovate #RE17 #RE2017 #bootstrappers #neverstopinnovating

Why (Not) Teach Entrepreneurship in Public Schools?

img_4853-2Entrepreneurial 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

10 Notables Changing the Future of Learning and Teaching

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Education is merging with neuroscience, quantum computing, and AI, redefining what it means to be human and thus what it means to learn and to teach. Where does that put education as a human endeavor and what other factors do we need to consider in order to take full advantage of the present knowledge revolution?

  • The game changers that support 21st Century Technology and Learning are cloud computing, more connectivity, cheaper devices that enable social networks, and AI enabled extreme personalization. Online learning communities immersed in organized cycles of inquiry are an important aspect of the future of education – we need to promote the facilitation of these communities in our young learners.
  • Excellent teachers, along with AI, will support all of these technological interventions and more, but will we learn when to ‘turn the AI off’, or risk merging with the Neuralink – it will be there if you want it.  
  • Measuring success will be more shared, less quantitative, and supported by valued competencieswe give too many linear assignments – we need to balance these with cyclical inquiry holding unknown outcomes at the outset in order to allow students to practice the competencies that mitigate the stress of ambiguity of complex problem solving.
  • The arts are critical – art is the highest form of human expression.  Education is a human endeavor, and as such it must respect our nature as creative beings – cutting funding to arts and humanities makes no sense. Coding is important, but frankly, a lot of it will be automated by the time my students reach working age (BTW – there is no STEM, only STEAM – one has only to look at Hypercars as examples).
  • The process frees the mind – classrooms must do more extended cyclical inquiries to 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, and eventually to 5 months. Evaluation and assessment can be deeper within a longer cycle, and the competencies practiced become just as/more important as the summative marks achieved at the end of the process.
  • Inquiry = deep questions to promote access + facilitated responses + critique and comment to encourage commitment to a mastery mindset. Deep Learning doesn’t happen without deep questions, and ‘siloed’ mini-lessons only serve to further fracture our students – students need longer, deeper, and more cross-curricular/interdisciplinary projects for context and relevance – service learning is a great way to solve local and global community problems, we should focus more on this.
  • Personalized Learning means a fundamental shift in responsibility on the part of students and their families who require more guidance and encouragement to curate knowledge, competencies and empathy in pursuit of future dreams, plans and realities in terms of education, employment and happiness – in a very uncertain but hopeful future.
  • Storytelling and blogging remain crucial for relevance and for sharing of student voice. Family curation of career goals will become more important, as will be the curation of social media legacies of individuals – that’s why blogging is such a relevant and authentic activity to teach in schools – it is their voice through curated narrative that gives relevance to these activities – they are forging their digital legacies.
  • Students need guidance to curate their own competencies to help them develop their own growth mindset. Teach kids what their strengths and needs are and how to communicate those to other people, how to collaborate with others, and how to manage projects and assignments, and have a future vision of happiness.
  • Engaging in collaboration and not knowing the outcome at the outset and being able to manage that ambiguity is important to teach our kids. Being able to feel comfortable with complexity and public speaking, pushing through the stresses of innovation – and realizing that none of these habits are necessarily intuitive — they take practice to master.   

Authentic personalized learning requires that 21st century schools are filled with students and families who are provided the opportunity to take on more responsibility for their learning, in response to the exponential increase in resources provided by the Internet. Excellent teaching and AI will guide this upward innovation movement, but ‘a shared leadership’ will facilitate more and more partnerships within communities and between them.

What would you add to this list?

Special thanks to Robyn D. Shulman for her support:

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 for the 2017 QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards.


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


21st Century Project-Based Learning

img_4853-2I created the Bootstrapping Checklist as an entrepreneurial program for teens in the form of cyclical guided inquiry and because it is deeply simple and low-cost, it is immensely scalable.

The Bootstrapping Checklist is a shift away from too many ‘linear’ assignments for students, to a more holistic cyclical method of inquiry – and the Bootstrapping cycle lasts 5 months – we do it every Friday for 5 months (roughly 1 stage in the cycle/month). For the kids, they feel a sense of support knowing that they will have the time to work through a very deep inquiry, and still be able to work through the myriad of other assignments they encounter throughout the school year.

The program was put together with the hard work and commitment of myself and my students, and with support from global mentors with whom I constantly look to for guidance and support.  This means that the Bootstrapping Checklist (and guided cyclical inquiry, however the form it takes), is immensely scalable, as long as a community has access to WiFi, cloud-based computing, mobile devices/computers, and adventurous teachers.

The program will become a registered charity once a suitable investor is found, and will develop into an Artificial Intelligence enabled module that will very quickly allow remote communities to ‘self-learn’ project management to solve local challenges and engage with the global community – but the teacher/coach/mentor/elder must always be present to facilitate any community learning, this is always critical.

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, and Salar Chagpar and Marc Lijour at and of course the Reimagine Education community.


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

OAEA Elementary Art Educator of the Year Award 2015


It was my great honour to accept the 2015 Ontario Art Education Association’s Elementary Art Educator of the Year Award on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at  As an art educator and advocate for the arts in education, I began my relationship with the OAEA as early as 2003 when I studied art education at OISE.  Since then I am proud to be associated with such dedicated educators that comprise the OAEA and I would to thank my wife, family, friends and colleagues for their support throughout the last 12 years of my teaching career in Toronto.  Particularly, I wish to thank Beryl Cohen, Lisa Sanders, and Jane Dewar for their nomination – I am humbled and honoured to receive this award and will continue to work hard to advocate for the arts in education.

OAEA provides leadership and advocacy for the development and support of visual arts/media arts in education in Ontario.

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From left: my wife Kumiko Baxter, me, my brother John Baxter, and art teacher Kathleen Moll

Data Driven Design and the Process of STEM


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In order to create an environment which supports success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in my small middle school classroom, the emphasis is on process, and not product, and iterative workflows are the key to continuous improvement.

Committing to any iterative inquiry or design cycle will help move students and teachers away from a performance (fixed) mindset toward a mastery (growth) mindset because students will learn to engage more with the process than the product – because it is the process that reveals the data that they need to continually improve.

Data Driven Design for middle and senior students is about getting kids to move away from caring so much about the products they make for school, to reflecting about what went well, and what didn’t so much, during the creative process.

It is about showing students how to apply the data that they have collected and interpreted to continually improve their products within an iterative workflow.

It is about getting them to see their products as what Pixar calls their ‘Most Recent Worst Versions’, and not simply a reason to ‘chase their marks’

Most importantly, it is about teachers showing students how to get data that belongs to them – and this changes the dynamic between teacher and student to allow for a growth mindset to occur for both.  This is how we will build an economy serviced by innovative and resilient people.

I have for many years been of the side of process versus product, and it was through this type of curriculum planning that I discovered that students need not be in control of the product, and that iterative inquiry cycles provide the structure needed to guide students through inquiry based learning projects where at the outset the products are unknown.

This is a paradigm shift for middle and senior students, parents, teachers and schools –  but it is a critical shift that needs to occur if we are to produce critically versatile thinkers and doers.  In this sense, the process frees the mind from a performance based attitude toward education (where normative standards are the measure of success) – to a growth mindset where the product is the student’s ‘Most Recent Worst Version’, and where the data collected to inform design becomes more important that the summative evaluation, or mark, given subjectively by the teacher.

In other words, formative assessment can and will override summative assessment in terms of importance once students see the value of it to inform their designs. Students can do this by becoming experts at collecting, organizing, and interpreting data to realize their visions and passions, and no longer get stuck on making something for the teacher. They will thus become ‘hungry for their own data’, because the data now serves their needs.

This is one place where entrepreneurial education and arts education intersect.  In DDD, the ‘bootstrapping checklist’ provides an explicit phase for data collection to inform the design process.  In art-making, ensuring that the critical analysis process is conducted during the art making process also provides students with valuable feedback to inform their works. And in all subjects, peer and teacher feedback occurs directly in the digital document that students are working in, and this feedback allows for these decisions to happen almost immediately.

Feedback actually leads to improvement, and a student who values this type of learning will exist in a growth mindset and will have the skills to navigate our ever increasingly competitive global marketplace.


“Following a structured approach to developing new ideas is critical for having a shot at actually being able to measure impact and value.”

Kristan ‘Krispy’ Uccello – software engineer at Google in CA