Professional Course

Teaching for Critical Action: Empowering Students in Challenging Times

edX, Online
5 weeks
50 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
5 weeks
50 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Teaching for Critical Action: Empowering Students in Challenging Times

Our students are faced with an ever-changing world, with a variety of daunting issues including climate, economic disparity, social justice, uncertain job futures, and more. Teachers are affected by this, as students demonstrate anxiety and increased apathy toward learning.

In five weeks, we discuss some of the major challenges, approaches and strategies for adopting critical action as a pedagogical paradigm for addressing pressing, complex socio-environmental issues in the classroom. Each week, we will explore ways in which your teaching can empower students as transformative agents in these challenging times. We will hear from educators from around the world about diverse examples of critical action curriculum, as well as have guest experts leading us to deeper dives in concepts and perspectives important to your growth as a critical educator. We will also present a pedagogical framework for critical action curriculum design that will help you create lessons, units, and courses with broader scope and deeper impact.

In addition to the regular weekly videos, readings, and activities, CAL101x students can optionally join a "design strand", in which they will be grouped in small design teams to collaboratively design actual critical action curriculum that they can later enact in their classrooms.

CAL101x is designed with K-12 teachers in mind. Teacher candidates, higher education instructors, educational leaders, curriculum designers and others interested in education, critical action, and social justice may also find it relevant.

Upcoming start dates

1 start date available

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?



Training content

Why Critical Action? Why now?

We examine the confluence of multiple crises that characterize the world's current scenario. We discuss how educational approaches that emphasize agency and collective responsibility can empower students as transformative agents for positive change. An Indian teacher discusses storytelling as a strategy for students' action on the Covid-19 pandemic. An expert psychologist discusses the importance of committed action in countering students' anxiety.

Designing for learning communities with a critical eye

We discuss the role of teachers as learning experience designers. We review challenges of designing for collaboration and examine design approaches to promote students' critical action. Educators from the United States discuss an educational strategy that uses project-based civic learning experiences to engage youth in urban planning. An expert guest host addresses the implications of creating a culture of collaboration in the classroom.

The CALE Framework

We present the CALE Framework for designing critical action curricula. We discuss how your designs can expand in scope and lead to a deeper exploration of socio-environmental problems. A Chinese educator reflects on inquiry-based curriculum on Climate Change. An expert guest host takes us deeper in the subject of Climate Action education.

A deeper look on pedagogies for Critical Action

We review Knowledge Building theory and Critical Pedagogy as two pedagogical approaches to support Critical Action education. A Colombian teacher reflects on an Arts-based curriculum that supports students' action on the issue of decolonization. An expert critical pedagogue discusses in depth some important concepts.

Personal directions and community building

We examine our personal and collective next steps as teachers engaged in Critical Action education. Our guest teachers from weeks 1 to 4 return to respond to questions asked by the MOOC students.

Course delivery details

This course is offered through University of Toronto, a partner institute of EdX.

3-6 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$49.99
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

From this course, you will:

  • Develop comprehensive understanding of critical action education as a pedagogical perspective for addressing socio-environmental issues in the classroom.
  • Know strategies and approaches for lesson design and enactment of critical action curricula.
  • Gain a deeper understanding on a variety of themes related to socio-environmental justice education.

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