Monthly Archives: January 2016

Here’s the Big Idea:


Public schools need to make available space, time, and $$$, for student online communities to grow within and between schools, in order to help generate social capital by using student data to advocate for resources from community partners. The only way to do this effectively is to teach students how to iterate through complex design problems and to teach them how to collect and use data to make sound design decisions. One way to do this is by using ‘The Bootstrapping Checklist’.

The Bootstrapping Checklist facilitates online collaboration for intermediate students by providing a real and authentic reason to learn skills like coding, digital marketing and technology, data analysis and analytics, and computer science – all at a younger age – and with an incentive to keep at it.

The Bootstrapping Checklist, which in my class occurs over a 5 month cycle, facilitates online collaboration which allows intermediate student projects to grow year over year. This is a massive shift in the way student projects are initiated and maintained, and when students know their ventures have the potential to grow, engagement and achievement go way up.

Projects are essentially open source and have the potential to generate ‘social capital’ – either in terms of relationships built (mentoring and volunteer recruitment to fulfill tasks to move projects forward), to cash and hardware donated to the school, again with the purpose of moving student projects forward. Because the design decisions are based on data, student voice is actually used to request resources, and I feel contributors are more likely to donate time or money if they know these resources have a defined purpose.

The social capital generated adds value to any school, board or community that makes space for this type of teaching and learning to grow. By engaging students more fully in their own community building, achievement actually goes up in terms of literacy and numeracy measurement for system accountability purposes, report card achievement, and soft skills gained, not to mention increased positive school climate.  

The Bootstrapping Checklist simply encourages schools to put a bit more emphasis on process, where the outcome of student projects is unknown from the outset, rather than with product, were generally very narrow success standards are used to measure student and school output.

School boards don’t need to measure The Bootstrapping Checklist the way they would measure literacy and numeracy in the ‘standardised testing for funds allocation’ kind of way.  As student online communities develop, these have the potential to add value to a school board by generating social capital in terms of relationships developed and fostered, and potential resources acquired – all using student data, or ‘voice’, to advocate for these resources.

As I know, open source student projects for social capital generation isn’t really being done in public schools – and I think this is a huge opportunity loss. We need to encourage this type of online collaboration using iterative cycles where social innovation, computer science and STEM curricular teaching and learning naturally flow from, and where student projects can potentially grow to generate social capital within and between school boards, year over year.

This slide show explains the Bootstrapping Checklist:

#entrepreneur #innovation #edtech #edchat #opensource #onlinecollab #education #year2year #local2global