We support openness—both in sharing what we know and what we do. On this page, we share what our teams have done this year, what they’re working on now, and what they have planned next. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of this work or collaborate with us.

Tracking our progress for 2020-21. For 2018-2019, see our most recent Annual Report. Our 2020 Impact Report is available now. To read more about our priorities for 2018-2020, visit the About page. We recently announced a new program – Carry the Innovation Forward – as our focus for 2021-22.

A note about 2020-21 — Supporting Duke during the COVID-19 pandemic

Learning Innovation has had the unique experience of helping two institutions move to remote teaching and learning: in February 2020 we collaborated with the DKU Center for Teaching and Learning to help Duke Kunshan move to remote teaching (Ithaka S+R documented that experience in a case study). In March 2020, we led the Duke Keep Teaching effort and provided resources, workshops and information to Duke faculty via the Keep Teaching website and newsletter. 

From late spring through the summer 2020 the Learning Innovation team recommended faculty rethink their fall courses for “flexible teaching.” This meant starting with an online design as the foundation with options for face-to-face interaction when possible. Our goals were to increase the resilience of course designs and to improve student learning by applying the lessons of spring, but also to draw a distinction with “emergency remote teaching,” which was predicated on the opposite vector: face-to-face courses that transitioned online. For the largest Fall 2020 undergraduate courses that enroll a large percentage of students at Duke, we provided direct support to faculty with two staff members assigned to each course. We worked directly with approximately 100 faculty on 60 courses. (Some courses are co-taught by multiple instructors; a handful of faculty declined our help.) To scale support to the whole faculty, we built the Flexible Teaching website (http://flexteaching.li.duke.edu/); offered group workshops (both at the departmental level and university-wide and open to all faculty); online office hours; email support; the Course Design Planner (a self-paced guide for faculty working on their own or in cohorts); and a weekly newsletter. After the start of classes in fall 2020, we reduced the frequency of our newsletters and workshops, but maintained our direct support of the Flexible Teaching effort through online office hours, selected workshops and direct 1:1 contact.

Teaching Innovation

The Teaching Innovation team consults with and advises Duke faculty on their teaching, leads development programs for educators and helps improve student learning at Duke.

Up next:

  • Consult with and support faculty applicants to the “Carry the Innovation Forward” program
  • Offer Spring 2021 discussion series about teaching practices to support student well-being (example) and a series of teaching workshops targeted to TAs but open to all (example).
  • With the Duke Kunshan University Center for Teaching and Learning, implement the fourth annual 11-week-long DKU Learning Innovation Fellows program, a teaching development and orientation program for new DKU faculty hired between September 2020 and March 2021.
  • Expand and initiate regular meetings of the Teaching Support Network, a group comprised of representatives of units and programs at Duke which support faculty teaching professional development.


  • Support six graduate students with in-depth digital education projects in the Digital Education Fellows Program.
  • Host drop in times for faculty to receive consulting through 6-8 hours/week (12-24 person hours/week) Learning Innovation Office Hours
  • Support Gradescope with faculty consultation, training, communication and vendor liaison activities.
  • Support a pilot of Labster with faculty consultation, training and documentation, outreach and vendor liaison activities.

Recently completed:

  • During spring 2021, completed virtual Small Group Instructional Feedback sessions for Duke faculty
  • Over winter break 2020-21, offered 4-session Course Design workshop series (example) and 3 faculty “experience sharing” sessions (example) to help faculty prepare for Spring 2021 teaching.
  • Over winter break 2020-21, hosted Grad Academy on Online Teaching to prepare graduate students as TAs and instructors in online/hybrid courses and faculty course design programs to prepare faculty to teach online/hybrid courses in Spring 2021. 
  • Planned and implemented fall faculty discussion and sharing sessions about hybrid/online teaching (example).
  • Partnered with Bass Connections to help faculty design, develop and teach Collaborative Inquiry courses (program runs Dec 2019-Dec 2020).
  • Provided course design consultation for online/hybrid teaching for almost 60 high enrollment Fall courses.
  • During Summer 2020, scheduled and offered 17 virtual workshops and faculty discussion sessions to help Duke faculty prepare for Fall flexible teaching. 
  • Provided substantial help drafting content for the Flexible Teaching website, including a self-service Course Design Planner to assist faculty with online/hybrid course design. 
  • With others in DLI, staffed 6-15 hours/week (12-45 person hours/week) of online drop-in office hours for instructors. 
  • Provided Teaching Assistant training, a twice-repeated 4-workshop series offered in the summer in partnership with the Graduate School, to support courses that have TAs over the summer, followed by a 6-workshop series in the fall.  Enrolled over 500 TAs.
  • Ran weeklong summer 2020 Graduate Academy on Online Teaching for over 50 graduate students. 
  • Created a teaching guide for TAs on the Flexible Teaching website.
  • Oriented two new staff in term positions as faculty consultants.  

Learning Technologies

The Learning Technologies team breaks down barriers between teaching, learning, and technology at the university.

Up next:

  • Forums.Next project 1) Build a new threaded discussion and Q&A tool for Sakai. 2) Pilot Ed Discussion as a replacement for Piazza.
  • Enter a new phase of product development with Nudge.
  • Deploy Kits user documentation.
  • Deploy new Gradescope and Panopto integrations with Sakai.


  • Lead edtech integrations working group with OIT, SISS, and others.
  • Lead professional education tech stack working group with OIT, Trinity, SISS, and others.
  • Piloting LabsterLabster.com is a tool offering virtual lab environments for a variety of science disciplines.
  • Growing Kits – the Duke Learning App store – displays to learners a unified interface for accessing the instructional tools used by their learning communities. 
  • Piloting Hypothes.isHypothes.is is a tool that lets you collaboratively annotate and discuss webpages and documents.
  • Supporting Gradescope with faculty consultation and training and vendor liaison activities.
  • Developing Sakai UI/UX.
  • Providing ongoing support, communication and documentation of changes and features in tools that support Flexible Teaching — ex: Zoom, PlayPosIt, etc. 
  • Migrating Coursera courses using Microsoft Azure to new Coursera infrastructure.

Recently completed:

  • Investigate the edtech landscape for discussion tools.
  • Upgraded Sakai to version 20 on December 21.
  • Partnered with OIT to allow faculty to more easily create, edit, and share videos by integrating Panopto with Sakai
  • Evaluated online whiteboard tools to support faculty who communicate with students with drawings as well as text and images. 
  • Engaged Hypothes.is to license their enterprise annotation tool to encourage deeper student interactions with texts and one another. 
  • Scoped an Edstem pilot with Computer Science to aid communication in computational courses.
  • Completed Sakai Administrator account audit.
  • Reconfigured Sakai Delegated Access and moved support staff across the university from Sakai Administrator access to Delegated Access.
  • Completed Instructor and Student user story mapping for the next version of Nudge.
  • Added Virtual Computer Manager (VCM) to Kits.
  • Gave Kits administrators the ability to search all kits.

Online Duke

The Online Duke team helps faculty develop online learning opportunities that offer flexibility to Duke students, reach the extended community of alumni and prospective students and extend Duke’s global impact.

Up next:

  • Launch Machine Learning for Surgeons, a continuing medical education course created in partnership with the +Data Science, the American College of Surgeons, and leading data science and medical faculty from Duke, Stanford, Harvard, and the University of Toronto.
  • Complete development of the second course of Duke Divinity’s new Theology in Health Care certificate
  • Launch Coursera Specialization on Cloud Data Analysis at Scale

Ongoing: Courses & Programs Currently in Production

  • Planning online education content development with the Center for Computational Thinking and the Office of Information Technology
  • Infectious Disease Modeling, an online course co-developed by the Duke Global Health Institute and Moi University in Kenya.
  • Developing a summer online course on Space Medicine for Duke students, alumni, and incoming first-year students.
  • Designing the Nicholas School of the Environment’s new non-credit course series on Drones for Environmental Science.
  • Supporting the Pratt School of Engineering in the initial run of their new MasterTrack on Blockchain Applications, a non-credit credential that stacks into Pratt’s new Master of Engineering in Financial Technology.
  • Advising the Duke Divinity School on the design of a new curricular partnership with private colleges, as well as developing a video series on Rediscovering the Heart of Methodism
  • Coursera Specialization: Modeling Predictive Risk in Healthcare
  • Continuing planning with the Sanford School of Public Policy on the upcoming development of new Sanford online programs
  • Advising a Bass Digital Education Fellow on the design of a self-paced online course on introductory programming for online social science experiments.

Recently completed:

  • Completed launch of first course of Divinity’s Theology in Healthcare certificate, Cultivating the Christian Imagination, Part I.
  • Completed market research for the Nicholas School of the Environment to inform the design of stackable credentials for Nicholas’ master’s programs and innovative online executive education offerings.
  • Piloted a training module on Biostatistics for Medical Researchers, in partnership with +Data Science and the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics.
  • Finished course site design consultations for postgraduate education for the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Anesthesiology in the Duke School of Medicine.
  • Expanded Coursera for Duke to give our community access to the full Coursera catalogue (not just Duke-developed courses as we had offered previously) as courseware to accelerate new online course development or as independent learning opportunities. This Coursera learning program has yielded over 4,700 course enrollments in the first three months, between July and September 2020. 
  • Launched Coursera for Duke Alumni.
  • Redesigned assessments for Duke’s English Composition I Coursera course to be completed in a self-assessment format.
  • Re-launched Duke’s four Think Again Coursera courses as a Specialization titled, “Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking”.
  • Launched teaching assistant (TA) training modules to provide TAs foundational knowledge on counseling resources for students, student privacy, academic integrity, and Title IX policies on sexual misconduct and harassment.
  • Hired a new Learning Experience Designer who will support Learning Innovation’s ongoing partnership with the Duke Divinity School.
  • Completed a competitive landscape analysis for the Duke Divinity School to inform their design of a certificate program for health clinicians of faith.
  • Finalized Duke’s agreement with Coursera to launch non-credit MasterTrack Certificates, a new type of credential that stacks into a master’s program. The Pratt School of Engineering will launch Duke’s first MasterTrack in Blockchain in February 2021, which will prepare learners for Pratt’s Master of Engineering in Financial Technology. 

Research, Evaluation & Development

The Teaching Innovation R&D Lab team supports research and experimentation on teaching and learning across the Duke community with an emphasis on early-stage projects and translational research.

Up next:

  • Supporting the Trauma-Informed Teaching, Learning, and Education Bass Connections team to conduct research on how student experiences of trauma affect teaching and learning at Duke.
  • Organizing the Pandemic Pedagogy Research Symposium, an online conference showcasing new research on teaching and learning innovations that have emerged during the global pandemic. The conference will feature 48 presenters from universities around the world and is co-sponsored by Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University.
  • Curate a repository of commonly-used instruments to measure outcomes that are broadly applicable to different types of teaching and learning research.
  • Create a digital library of Qualtrics survey templates for student feedback, program and course evaluation, and assessment of learning outcomes.
  • Promote participatory course and program evaluation methods and data collection instruments that prioritize equity and inclusion:
    • We are providing recommended wording for socio-demographic questions to promote inclusion.
    • We are developing SoTL resources for PIs to support equity and inclusion in research on teaching and learning.
    • We are creating evaluation and assessment tools that departments can use to collect data on diversity, equity, and inclusion.


  • Variations in Student Sense of Community and Self-Efficacy in Introductory Quantitative Courses: Conduct research in partnership with Duke faculty members in math and statistics to determine whether different flexible teaching course structures and formats are associated with increases in student perceptions of community. This project is on-going since fall 2020 and will continue through the summer.
  • Partnering with Dr. Sheila Patek, director and founder of Muser, to conduct research on the impacts of using technology to anonymously match undergraduates to faculty-led research opportunities.
  • Working with the Divinity School to refine their course assessment and evaluation tools for both graduate-level credit programs and non-credit professional development opportunities
  • Conducting a research project on Transformative Learning in German Language Classes: Identifies predictors of transformative learning experiences in beginning, intermediate, and advanced German language classes.
  • Supporting faculty-led research projects related to teaching and learning:
    • Lori Mauger’s research seeks to understand how the implementation of an ant-based CURE influences student understanding of the nature of sciences and its associated skills, their attitudes toward the environment, and their learning of associated content knowledge.
    • Eliana Schonberg, Ann Saterbak and Liz Paley’s research examines the impact of introducing a peer writing consultant on the writing abilities and/or students’ relationship to writing in a first-year engineering design class that is writing-intensive in nature.
    • Ann Saterbak is also leading research examining the impact of an early in-class problem-based learning module on the development of student preparedness, skills and confidence when developing mathematical models of biomedical systems.
    • Tina Davenport’s research evaluates the effectiveness of online modules to teach biostatistics to medical residents.
    • Joan Clifford and Deb Reisinger’s research examines which modes of communication trigger transformative learning in world language undergraduate students.
  • Working with staff at the Duke Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to create online workshops and resources for the Duke community.
  • Collaborating with other Learning Innovation teams to research and develop Nudge, an SMS-based tool to help students remember lecture content longer.
  • Supporting Duke Kunshan University’s efforts to create a team to promote faculty research on teaching and learning.

Working with Prof Amanda Hargrove on a research-based seminar course (Chem 81S) for first year students that will help retain women and underrepresented minorities in STEM majors by giving them early-career access to hands-on research opportunities. Learning Innovation is helping Amanda develop the screening instrument that students will use to apply for this unique course.

Recently completed:

  • Writing book chapters (upcoming):
    • “A Lot Has Become Muted:” Supporting LGBTQ+ Students Living at Home During the Covid-19 Pandemic
    • Pedagogical Implications of Covid-19: A Case Study of What Faculty Learned about Teaching Well by Teaching Remotely During the Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Led several data collection efforts throughout the Summer and Fall to assess faculty needs around flexible teaching and collected feedback.
  • Supporting research out of Pratt to examine the role that 3D printing maker spaces play in attracting women to engineering majors.
    • This research project is a mixed-method design involving both surveys with Pratt undergraduates and in-depth interviews with students who have engaged with the 3D printing spaces on campus.
  • Provided support for Duke’s Flexible Teaching initiative to support faculty members teaching remotely during the Summer and Fall 2020 semesters including:
    • Developing and leading workshops
    • Creating website content
    • Developing course blueprint guides
    • Staffing online office hours for faculty
    • Providing dedicated support to designated large-enrollment classes

Consulted with Nasher staff to develop robust course evaluation tools to incorporate in their thematic learning modules provided to Duke faculty across the university.