New York, NY, August 4, 2008 … To counter bias and prejudice in students, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has launched an innovative, Web-based professional development course to help teachers make their classrooms respectful and inclusive places.
Making Diversity Count is a self-paced, immersive online course for middle and secondary school teachers to explore issues of bias and prejudice, as they learn from education and civil rights experts. The goal of Making Diversity Count is to help teachers develop skills to confront prejudice, sustain classroom environments that promote respect and fairness, and increase their capacity to interact positively with students of diverse backgrounds.
"Making Diversity Count is a groundbreaking tool that uses new technology to enhance teachers' understanding of diversity issues," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair. "By learning to embrace the diversity of our nation's classrooms, teachers will be better equipped to instill crucial lessons of respect, tolerance and understanding in students. These values will serve students throughout their lives and have a positive impact on those around them."
The Ford Foundation and the Sylvia and Leon P. Nagin Family Foundation are founding sponsors of the Making Diversity Count program.
"This is important work," said Luis A. Ubiñas, President of the Ford Foundation. "This program serves as a valuable resource for both new and experienced teachers as they explore issues of race, bias and diversity. The interactive online format means teachers throughout the country – no matter how remote their schools – can offer students of all ethnicities and religious persuasions the opportunity to learn the value of diversity."
Making Diversity Count is offered through ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, a leading provider of anti-bias education and diversity training programs and resources. The Institute seeks to help participants recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society; explore the value of diversity; improve intergroup relations; and combat racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry.
"The Internet is constantly expanding as a viable and respected learning platform," said Lindsay J. Friedman, Director of the League's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute. "As such, it is a natural medium to implement our programming, whose centerpiece continues to be positively reaching youth and teachers. Making Diversity Count harnesses the benefits of the Internet and technology to help accomplish that goal."
The interactive course takes approximately 15 online hours to complete, offering interdisciplinary curriculum materials, school-based video scenarios, online discussion with peers, as well as a course journal and a readings and resource list.
Course modules cover subjects such as diversity, personal identity, cross-cultural communication, conflict, name-calling and bullying. These help teachers incorporate standards-based, interdisciplinary, anti-bias resources and lessons into their classrooms.
Teachers from around the country who have gone through a pilot phase of the program describe Making Diversity Count as an "enlightening experience" that addresses "issues faced every day." They also appreciated being able to go through the course "from the privacy of home."
Making Diversity Count was created with leading educators and anti-bias professionals, piloted with teachers from around the country and evaluated by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Educators who complete the program receive certification of 15 hours of online professional development work and can obtain Continuing Education Units from their districts.
The program was honored in April 2008 by the United States Distance Learning Association with its Platinum Best Practice Award for Distance Learning Programming.