LI location at ATC


Welcome to Duke Learning Innovation’s second annual report. Announced in October 2017, Learning Innovation was formed from two predecessor groups, the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) and Online Duke, and adds an R&D approach to the applied science of learning. Our name “puts learning first” and underscores our mission to help Duke students learn more, and to help more people learn from Duke.

You might notice something different about some of the pictures in this year’s report. While there’s still plenty of photos from Duke’s West Campus – you’ll also see images of Durham’s American Tobacco Campus (commonly referred to as “ATC”). In Spring 2019, we moved out of the basement of Bostock library and established our new main offices on the third floor of ATC’s Strickland building. We also set up a new space in Duke University Library’s Ruppert Commons for Research, Technology and Collaboration, known more commonly as The Edge, on West Campus.

Learning Innovation reflection

This move and expansion does more than provide us space to grow – it signifies the evolution of our partnerships and mission. In this report we’ve featured a few initiatives and projects from 2018-2019 that highlight this evolution. For example, our continuing partnership with Duke’s Office of Information Technology (also based out of ATC) and Duke Libraries made the launch of Duke’s +Data Science (+DS) initiative possible. +DS is Duke-wide collaboration among departments, schools, and institutes to enable faculty, students, and staff to deploy the tools and techniques of data science to solve problems in every discipline, from contemporary art to surgery.

Our collaborations with OIT also helped us realize our vision for Kits – Duke’s Learning App Store. Learning technologies across higher education have traditionally focused on meeting faculty’s teaching needs through the campus-wide Learning Management System (LMS). With Kits, we are designing for a more pluralistic and diverse ecosystem of technologies for learning experiences tailored to disciplines and pedagogies. We aim to give faculty and students better options for tools that meet their teaching and learning needs, in a scalable, integrated, secure environment – rather than a single, top-down enterprise “solution.”

Our work in online learning – particularly our ongoing partnership with Coursera – continues to provide Duke faculty a global platform. In the summer of 2018, Learning Innovation launched a more direct, innovative approach to global education. Together with the Global Education Office and two faculty leaders, for the past two summers we have brought a group of Duke students to Berlin for a refugee education program that combines thinking and doing. In the coming year, we plan to expand our global impact, and deeper our collaboration with Global Education and Duke’s Alumni Association as we pilot – a hub for alumni and students to connect to campus and to one another for professional development.

As our strategy has shifted from individual open courses and stand-alone innovations to strategic partnerships with Duke’s 10 schools, our online team has added capacity to support schools with learning experience design and market research. We are currently developing online offerings with Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, Duke’s Global Health Institute, the School of Medicine as well as exploring programs with the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Nicholas School of the Environment, and the Divinity School. Most of these programs will use a “stackable” strategy that unbundles programs to make them more accessible. We are making progress toward our goal of being an essential partner to deans and other school leaders and faculty in strategizing, designing, developing, and launching digital learning programs.

In October 2018, Learning Innovation hosted the second annual NextEd Festival. For this year’s festival, we invited the Duke community to join us as we looked at four critical “Grand Challenges” facing higher education: how to unite the Humanities and STEM; how to “Future-Proof” Learning; Equity, Inclusion and Community in teaching and learning; and Global Engagement. While four weeks and 15 events isn’t enough time to fully unpack these issues, NextEd Fest planted the seeds of ideas, solutions and change for festival guests, partners and friends. In the coming year, NextEd will expand into Durham’s downtown innovation cluster as we launch NextEd Labs at the Bullpen. A collaboration among Learning Innovation, Embark Projects, and Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship, NextEd Labs (located at the I&E space in Durham’s Imperial building) will be a home for Duke students and faculty to engage with the Triangle education innovation community, learn about careers in ed tech and innovation, and find projects and internship opportunities. For the community, NextEd Labs will be a place for Duke to share expertise and resources to help education entrepreneurs succeed.

This year, we launched our Teaching and Learning Innovation Lab to support research and development on teaching and learning across the Duke community. In May 2018, at the Empirical Educator Project (EEP) 2019 Summit at Carnegie Mellon University, we published WALTer (“We Are Learning, Too”), streamlined open source workflow for gaining consent from learners to participate in educational research. WALTer has now been used by a dozen Duke faculty members conducting research in their classrooms and the open source version has been accessed nearly 1,000 times. (To read more about WALTer, visit the EEP’s Educational Research Infrastructure site.) In the coming year, the Teaching and Learning Innovation Lab will welcome new faculty partners and support more research in teaching and learning.

This year, we also looked towards the future of higher education and collaborated with Duke’s Graduate School to launch the Bass Digital Education Fellowship (DEF) – a new PhD student development program featuring a graduate course in digital pedagogy and year-long fellowship with Learning Innovation. Our first cohort of DEF starts their fellowships Fall 2019, working with Duke faculty and Learning Innovation staff to design and develop learning experiences for Duke undergraduates. In the coming year, we’ll also welcome our first Collaborative Project Courses Faculty Fellows. Co-designed with Duke’s Bass Connections team, this fellowship will help Duke faculty design, develop and teach Collaborative Inquiry courses – often hailed as a hallmark of the Duke educational experience.

Learning is changing. Discoveries in computer science, neuroscience, and social science, have advanced the “endless frontier” of the science of learning in remarkable new directions. Researchers now know far more about how people learn than ever before. And that’s good news, because society’s collective need – and our individual needs – for knowledge has never been greater. But we cannot take the translation of the science of learning into practice for granted. To meet social and individual human learning needs, educational institutions must evolve. Great universities like Duke should lead the way in designing evidence-based systems of perpetual learning that apply expertise across fields to help students learn more, and to share our knowledge with the world. At Learning Innovation, we call that idea the “arc of learning” and it is the heart of our vision for the future of Duke.

To join us in this mission and keep up with our progress, please visit our website, sign up for our newsletter, and participate in our events.