It seems like the really big problems facing the world today are, at their core, education problems. Lots of people wonder, what if we could harness the power of technology to improve both access and quality of education? It’s an intoxicating idea. And there’s been a lot of talk about putting more technology in education. So far, though, new education technologies tend to focus on rich nations and university learning, where each student reliably owns a computer, and even then it’s unclear how much learning outcomes are improving.
At Bakpax, we believe that what education actually needs is “un-tech.”
Giving computers and tablets to every primary and secondary student is too expensive, even in the U.S. But students the world over already have access to paper and phones. Paper, whether loose sheet or books, is still the fundamental technology platform of education. It stands to reason that learning technology must be based on tech that the entire world already has or can easily get. Which pretty much means just paper and phones.
This is why we built Bakpax. We want to push the limit on what can be done with just ordinary paper and phones. No expensive hardware purchases that quickly become outdated. No complicated software products going down at the worst possible time. No “digital divide” between rich and poor.
Our co-founders have all experienced the power of education in their own lives. Our CEO, José, immigrated from one of the poorest nations in the world to the United States as a child. José majored in philosophy at Carleton College and got an MBA from Harvard. More recently, José founded adaptive learning pioneer, Knewton, creating hundreds of high quality jobs and changing the way the world thinks about personalized learning. Our Chief Technology Officer, Trevor, grew up in the woods of Northern Michigan. Trevor went to the University of Chicago and studied computer science. He never opted to join the big, glamorous consumer web companies. Instead, he returned to Northern Michigan, where he hopes over time to bring some quality jobs and economic development to his local community. One of our co-founders, Will, attended Lexington, MA public schools and majored in psychology at Emory University. His parents and grandparents received masters degrees, imbuing in him the value of education. He wants to help improve the lives of teachers like his brother, an elementary school teacher in Texas.
Everyone at Bakpax has a similar story to tell. Education changed our lives, our families’ lives, and our friends’ lives. We’ve seen its power in our local communities. We feel pretty good about spending our time trying to improve the lives of teachers, students, and parents. But our story isn’t ultimately about the people who work at Bakpax. It’s about something much bigger than us: the miraculous power of education to improve the human experience, both one at a time and the world over.