Lessons from DKU’s Pivot to Digital Teaching

Dr. Noah Pickus, Dean of Undergraduate Curricula Affairs and Faculty Development at Duke Kunshan University, recently shared a few key lessons with Times Higher Education (THE) from DKU’s pivot to digital teaching and learning. Though many lessons were included in a case study by Ithaka S+R earlier this year, Dr. Pickus gives insights as to what has happened at DKU since the transition in the Spring:


  1. Faculty are embracing a wider use of technology, and are seeing these tools as permanent changes to their teaching – not just temporary aids to be dropped as soon as in-person teaching can fully resume.
  2. Pedagogical shifts are happening, such as a greater focus on shorter lectures and the use of more active learning techniques.
  3. One of the biggest challenges is that instructors have to prepare and deliver courses when they may not yet know the modality (in-person, online or hybrid) and both instructors and students are spread across the world in different regions and timezones. Learning Innovation recommends that instructors design their courses to be delivered online, even if some face-to-face interactions with students may be possible.
  4. One benefit has been the creation of a virtual community that is very intentional about teaching. DKU’s Center for Teaching and Learning spent the summer working with all faculty – both those that taught in the Spring along with 40 new faculty – sharing experiences and working together to plan for Fall. Dr. Pickus noted that the Center for Teaching and Learning was a crucial component of “making this an intellectual and pedagogically innovative kind of time when it could have been one purely of panic.”