ASU Prep Digital Students Are Changing the World

« Back  |  

Global leaders could learn a thing or two from a handful of ASU Prep Digital 8th graders and their peers half a world away.

As part of the Global Leadership Exchange pilot program, this small group of online middle school students is tackling herculean challenges on a global scale, from human migration, plastic pollution and climate change to deforestation, clean water and access to technology.

Driven by ASU’s pedagogy of discovery-based learning, the Arizona students have partnered with peers in South Africa to develop real-world solutions to some of the most pressing social and geopolitical obstacles of our time.

Led by teacher Shawn Carey, the six ASU Prep Digital students and nine students from the Valenture Institute (an online high school in South Africa) are engaged in cross-cultural collaboration to examine these issues through a global lens, understand drivers and affect positive change. And they do all of this virtually in an online school setting.

While studying human migration, ASU Prep Digital students put the topic into greater context for their South African peers by sharing information about South American caravans flocking to the U.S. At the same time, Valenture students brought to life the challenge human migration from Zimbabwe is having on South Africa.

“Although world challenges are shared, because we live in different parts of the world, it can be difficult to understand differing views and perspectives,” said Ava Villa Martinez, an ASU Prep Digital student pursuing a career in which she can make a positive global impact. “Kids our age often don’t have a chance to weigh in on such important issues. Being part of this virtual school program allows us to learn different perspectives and come up with ideas that could really work.”

Working in two-week sprints, students collaborate online in small groups to immerse themselves in a problem within a global, cross-cultural context. They explore ways to tackle a global challenge and define the audience they need to mobilize, then imagine and activate creative solutions, thoughts and ideas in the form of presentations, public service announcements and podcasts.

“The Global Leadership exchange has made my mind come alive,” said Patrick Daily, another ASU Prep Digital Student in the virtual program. “When you take a deeper look into an issue, your eyes are opened to how some policies and restrictions can hold back progress.”

Having already explored issues of human migration and plastics contamination, Ava, Patrick and their peers will tackle climate change in the coming weeks.

Listen to KTAR-FM news story about this program.


To learn more about the ASU Prep Digital Global Leadership Exchange program and what this enterprising group of young people will achieve next, please contact