Tod Baker
Tod Baker
Technology & Design Educator

Tod Baker

I believe we can design our own lives. So I strive to create for students learning experiences that drive them to do things and discover what they should be doing. And I believe we can empower students to solve problems for people. So I present interesting problems that call for inquiry-based, iterative, and technology-driven solutions. The one question that drives all of my work: Why does this matter?



Learning Experiences I Value


3D Augmented REality

The director of admissions wanted to improve her school tours. She wanted to engage prospective parents and show them how teachers and students turn on the learning at both campuses. To meet this challenge, my design students designed and printed a 3D replica of the main campus. Their stretch goal, which they didn't realize, was to integrate augmented reality into this experience. They wanted someone to put their device over a room or area of the building in the model which would trigger an event that shows through photos or videos what learning looks like in that specific room. The students collaborated with their math and design teachers, an architect, and, their client, the director of admissions, to create their 3D replica. They collaborated on this project as a team and employed an agile method of development. 


I want learning experiences to be useful. They should help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to be happy and productive. So, I often tell parents about what we're up to and then I ask them if they see any real-world applications for their children. I also did this when I coached FLL robotics and learned that competitive robotics teams look a lot like teams at work out there in the real world. To start with, we're both solving problems. In robotics, we do this through engineering, programming, and research. It takes a lot of collaboration to move forward. Failure has to be an option for growth. Success is often achieved in iterative steps and when all the team players leverage their particular skills to achieve the team's goals. So, I frequently asked parents of players if they saw collaborative, hands-on problem solving in iterative ways where they work. All of them gave me a resounding, 'Yes!" I found that very encouraging. Now we need to get our schools to look like this as well.

Digital Dilemmas

To learn more about digital citizenship, I challenged students to create a digital citizen village in Minecraft. To succeed, students needed to create eight digital dilemmas throughout the village, one for each of the following  areas of digital citizenship: information literacy, privacy & security, self-image & identity, creative credit & copyright, cyberbullying, internet safety, relationships & communication, digital footprint & reputation. Players who entered the village would find dilemmas to explore. The decisions players made when facing dilemmas would lead them to either negative or positive consequences. At the end, players could evaluate the consequences of their decisions and choose to explore the same choose-your-own ending dilemma or any of the others in the village. This was a very powerful learning experience for students, because not only did they have to teach someone about digital citizenship, they also had to use their digital citizenship skills while building their village in Minecraft. They also had to collaborate heavily and use design thinking -- analyze the problem, develop some ideas to solve it, create the solution, and evaluate its effectiveness -- to get this off the ground. 

Tod is truly passionate about preparing the next generation of thinkers and doers to be ready for this digital world.
— Nick Hahn - Co-Founder and League Director of Austin Spark League