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ASU joins global partner to teach critical thinking

EdPlus connects with Asia Society to digitize teacher training to help more than 1 million students learn to fix world issues

September 22, 2016

Arizona State University is helping to scale and digitally enhance a program to teach more than 1 million young people to think critically and work together on global issues, such as immigration and sustainability.

The university’s EdPlus division is partnering with Asia SocietyFounded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III, the Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit institution dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States through arts, business, culture, education and policy, and its Center for Global Education, which is launching today at the society’s headquarters in New York.

Asia Society has developed a global competency framework that’s currently used in several dozen schools around the United States. The program includes curriculum tools that help teachers deepen students’ critical thinking about international concerns based on four skills: investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas and take action.

There has been an increasing focus on the concept of teaching young people how to work together on urgent global issues. Last fall, the United Nations cited "global citizenship education" as one of its sustainability goals, including education for sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence and appreciation of cultural diversity.

Currently, Asia Society prepares schools to use the global competency framework individually using in-person workshops, but partnering with EdPlus will greatly increase its reach, according to Phil Regier, ASU’s dean of educational initiatives and CEO of EdPlus, the unit at ASU that creates technology and forges partnerships to develop new ways of teaching and learning.

“The reason they’re coming to us is so we can develop a digitally enabled training for teachers who want to use this system in their schools, first domestically, but the really important area is to scale it internationally,” Regier said.

“The goal is to train 50,000 educators by 2021, and if they do that, they figure they will have reached over a million youths.”

Besides housing ASU Online, EdPlus also is the umbrella for some of ASU’s most innovative initiatives, including the Global Freshmen Academy and the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

EdPlus still is developing the format for Asia Society’s teacher training, according to Marc Sperber, the creative design lead for strategic design and development at EdPlus.

“Using our expertise in scaling high-quality online programs for diverse populations, we're working to design an engaging learning experience tailored to meet the needs of school leaders and teachers around the world, with opportunities for peer learning, mentoring, sharing ideas and resources," he said.

EdPlus will take Asia Society's 60 workshops and create a new way of delivering them, possibly as a series of courses.

“Imagine a math, science, English, arts or any teacher from any grade level being able to teach in their own style, meeting school goals, but knowing how to do so through a global lens to develop students’ global competence," Sperber said.

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