If you follow my blog, or connect with me on Twitter, you’ll know that we are in the middle of the 20% Project MOOC. This course has been amazing thus far, and this past week the members of the course have been presenting their very own “20%” or “Genius Hour” project proposals. We wanted to model for our students what it was like to do an inquiry-driven project — and learn from it at the same time. There have been some great proposal put up already that you can see here.
I thought long and hard about my project. First, I wanted to learn Ruby on Rails…then I wanted to make a WordPress site from scratch…then I wanted to create a course on eBooks…finally, something hit me. Instead of thinking about “cool things” I wanted to do, I should focus on problems I see every day that need solving.
We are currently in the second year of our 1:1 laptop initiative at my school. Year 1 went extremely well, but one of the ways we wanted to improve during Year 2 was getting laptop bags the students would actually wear (and still be protective). For our middle school students we let them pick the color of the bag, but for our high school students we have been looking at other options including a back-pack option. Most of the backpacks that were protective were also poorly designed in terms of what a high school student would want to wear. I openly said to my colleague the other day: ‘Why can’t they make bags these kids would actually use!”
Later this week in a separate discussion, my thoughts turned to equity of technology in our schools. I’ve been blessed to work with a number of schools who have technology available. That technology give students so many new opportunities that they never had without the tech. Of course you still need strong content and instruction, and the biggest thing of all will always be relationships…but technology helps in providing access to these new experiences. I felt there needed to be a better way for students in low-socioeconomic areas to get access to tech.
Then the idea hit.
Schools and students who already have technology need a bag or pack that protects it but also looks good. By creating a “TOMS like” model – we could sell those bags to students/schools and half the money from the sale could go to a program that puts technology in the hands of students who desperately need it.
It seemed doable, and also something that solved two problems at once. It also reminded me of Robin Hood, which is where I got the name from. So this is what I’m setting out to research and learn about in the next few weeks. Are RobinPacks a product that could actually make a difference? Would this be a sustainable platform for providing funds for tech equity? I’m not sure yet. But I’ll let you know in a couple weeks when the project is finished.
For now, I’m excited to learn more about this, and talk to people who could make it a reality! If you are interested in helping me out – don’t hesitate to send me an email or reach out to me on Twitter! Thanks!