The last six months have been unique, and our current events were likely not predicted in 2020 planning documents at the end of last year. The COVID-19 season has undoubtedly presented youth serving organizations with unanticipated challenges. With these challenges comes the opportunity to adapt and think creatively about how to best serve your community. The Edge program from Arizona State University (ASU) is an online career skills training program that flexibly supports young adults and youth-serving organizations. While we did not see 2020 happening this way, Edge was built to meet moments like this.
Through support from the Schultz Family Foundation, EdPlus at ASU launched Edge in 2018 by leveraging technology and expertise in open, online learning. The program was built with youth from our most marginalized communities in mind, and has expanded to reach additional audiences such as K-12 and GED populations. Edge provides learners with an engaging, foundational skills curriculum that aids job attainment, career advancement, and personal development. Through this no-cost training, youth beginning or in the early stages of their career will gain transferable professional skills that make them better equipped to serve. In turn, managers will be able to recruit and retain employees better prepared for their first job.
The team at ASU has established Edge as a valuable training for anyone entering the professional world through collaborating with engaged youth-serving organizations and employers. While there are other training resources specific to an industry, company, or job role, Edge is able to complement this existing training and, by being sector agnostic, appeal to a variety of different types of employers from a variety of fields.
The full Edge curriculum consists of 27 modules. Each interactive learning experience covers a specific subject in about 30 minutes, such as “Active Listening” or “Developing a Professional Image”. The three domains and six topics below organize the modules, and all module content was developed with subject matter expertise from ASU. All of Edge is available anytime, anywhere, on any device, through a gamified learning experience at no cost to learners. Throughout the modules, youth will learn about a concept and then directly apply their learning through interactives in the mobile applications. Learners earn certificates and digital credentials (badges) as they complete their Edge modules.
Throughout the COVID-19 season, we have found that many services and resources typically available are no longer accessible in the ways we are used to. For youth serving organizations, and youth themselves, this can mean removal of critical support. At Edge, we have spent years forming creative partnerships with innovative organizations. These experiences and the flexibility built into Edge have positioned the program to provide many of the valuable, real-world learning experiences that have otherwise become unavailable.
In some cases, organization leaders individually assign Edge modules directly to young adults, mimicking a personalized development plan. For others, partners convene cohorts of youth to complete Edge modules in a group format on a video call. Whatsmore, additional leaders take a hybrid approach and hold virtual, large-group application sessions after youth individually complete an Edge module. In any format, leaders and learners consistently leverage the same high-quality content in the way that works best for them. Perhaps the most surprising feedback through these experiences is that while Edge participants are gaining valuable knowledge and skills through the module content, they are also gaining the vital, modern skill of learning virtually.
Young adults exist across our country and are a tremendous resource to acknowledge, affirm, and include as we imagine what’s next for our society. We’re excited to be a part of empowering this future generation with just-in-time, just-for-me, freely available resources through Edge.
Brian Nethero serves as Associate Director with EdPlus at Arizona State University, including oversight of the Edge program. Brian has spent his entire career in education, starting as a 4th grade teacher and spending the last 7 years focused on flexible online learning. Brian remains passionate around serving populations too often forgotten or neglected and providing valuable, accessible resources at scale. Outside of work, Brian loves being a husband, dad, and foodie.
Edge Curriculum Overview
|Customer Service||Leadership||Personal Development|
|Customer Service Basics||Self-Leadership||Personal Finance|
|Advanced Customer Service||Leading Others||Employment Planning|