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Equity & Access

ASU Initiative Aims to Redesign Higher Education

Arizona State University has announced a new initiative focused on accelerating innovations in higher education that expand access and empower learners. Coordinated by ASU's University Design Institute (UDI) and supported by the Stand Together philanthropic community, the initiative is kicking off with nearly $12 million in donor gifts and an overall campaign to raise a total of $30 million.

"The work advanced through this partnership will drive a culture change and the commitment to redesign and restructure higher education that we embrace at ASU and that is critical to the success of students across the country," said ASU President Michael M. Crow, in a statement. "The public health pandemic that has swept the globe and the stress it has placed on our education system has exposed weaknesses that have existed for years. Universities are being forced to adapt right now and so we're saying, 'let's take advantage of this opportunity' and let's build things in a way that serves the learner in a new world that doesn't look anything like the one that existed when most of America's institutions of higher learning were designed."

Specific goals of the initiative include:

  • Building partnerships with other university leaders to drive innovations at their institutions;
  • Developing a stackable credential system to make it easier for students to select courses that reflect their individual skills and interests as well as document their competencies in their preferred career paths;
  • Developing technological components for a Trusted Learner Network to support a verifiable, learner-owned record system and potentially replace traditional transcripts with a competency-based credential system; and
  • Grow the university's high school programs, which provide digital curriculum, personalized online learning and career development tools.

"The principle of individual empowerment and a student-centric approach to learning and to education is a shared commitment, one where we are called to take action and broaden the network of stakeholders engaged in bringing about a change of culture," said Crow. "The goal is not to replicate ASU, but to advance a design model that enables every university to put learners, of all ages and life circumstances, at the center, implemented in the way that works best for the students served by that institution."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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