September 1, 2020 – Future of Work

New ASU Initiative Will Share Innovations to Help Other Universities Better Serve Students


American colleges and universities lead the world in driving scientific progress and helping students build their knowledge and skills. But their evolution is ongoing and their promise relative to student access and success remains unfulfilled.

This month, with support from the Charles Koch Foundation and donors from the Stand Together community, Arizona State University (ASU) will launch the Agent Learner Initiative. The latest in a long line of higher education innovation initiatives developed and advanced from Arizona State University.

With nearly $12 million in gifts, ASU will develop a group of high impact tools and programs across four core areas that support the broad goal of allowing students to more effectively pursue their own individualized and self-defined learning goals. The four core areas are:

  • The University Design Institute (UDI), to build partnerships with university leaders who are driving broad based innovations at their respective institutions;
  • ASU EdPlus, to accelerate development of a stackable credential system that will make it easier for students at ASU and other universities to design customized learning journeys according to their own interests, near and long-term career needs and timelines.
  • ASU University Technology Office, to accelerate development of a Trusted Learner Network that entirely rethinks how students, universities and employers from across the country manage transcripts and other forms of student records, especially in ways that make more sense for students who increasingly tend to transfer between multiple universities before completing their degree and often have to pursue careers even before they complete their undergraduate degrees.
  • Scale ASU’s high school programs, to enroll 30,000 additional students into ASU’s digital high school curriculum and reach an additional 30,000 students with personalized online learning and career development tools.

Already the centerpiece of ASU’s efforts to share with other universities the lessons it has learned through its transformation, the University Design Institute (UDI) will coordinate the Agent Learner Initiative and expand the ways in which it collaborates with peer institutions.

“ASU has made transformational changes in its comprehensive efforts to improve cost, access, and learning outcomes for its students. This new initiative will invite other universities to develop and apply new ideas in partnership with their peers, leading to increased opportunity for millions of learners,” said Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers. “We are thrilled to support this work to empower university leaders with a forum and support network to help drive innovation and better serve their students. There is no better time than now to think about how we can innovate to open new opportunities for as many people as possible.”

The new initiative aspires to build a community of support around the view that access and excellence in higher education can be complimentary. “Exclusivity shouldn’t be higher education’s goal,” Crow said. “We should be judging ourselves by how many students we can serve and how those students serve their community and their country.”

Read the full release here.

Find the agreement here.

Watch the partnership video here.

See more from ASU President Michael Crow here.