Information for undergraduate students | Duke Kunshan University

Information for undergraduate students

Students in Duke Kunshan’s undergraduate program received the following information on email from the Marcia France, dean of undergraduate studies, and Noah Pickus, dean of undergraduate curricular affairs and faculty development, on Feb. 6.

Dear students,

We hope this memo finds you and your family well. We know that this has been a difficult and unsettling time for everyone, between concerns for the health and safety of our friends and families and disruption to our usual routines. Like you, we are eager to get our courses going again. Our intent is for most DKU Session 3 courses to be completed online, and possibly for Session 4 courses to be completed in that way as well if necessary. We are monitoring the situation very closely. The health and safety of every member of the DKU community is our first priority. If we feel that we can safely return to in-person instruction on the DKU campus during Session 4, we will do so. In the meantime, we appreciate your support during this extraordinary – and temporary – situation.

Please know that we remain committed to providing the same DKU-quality education in this new format as we were delivering in Kunshan. DKU’s online courses will offer their own unique benefits including:

  • Flexibility: You’ll have the freedom to manage your own schedules and to work at the times and in the places that you prefer. You get to pause and rewind, to review your notes, or to conduct additional reading or research and then return to the lecture or discussion. Students often report finding it much easier to retain what they’ve studied in an online format.
  • Quality: Communicating your ideas clearly, responding to feedback, and managing projects in a virtual world are just the skills needed in the modern workplace. You and your professor will have the time to craft better arguments and to analyze the work of your peers. You’ll also get intensive feedback on your writing and dedicated attention from faculty who actively nurture relationships with you.
  • Community: Many students find it easier to concentrate and to participate in online class discussions. You’ll have more time to find your way into a conversation, to make your unique contribution, and to draw in your classmates. Team projects often function better online and online discussion forums can foster an especially strong sense of community.  
  • Really Rooted Globalism: You’ll participate in a virtual global conversation with your faculty and peers while you are also embedded in very specific local contexts – a distinct way of experiencing being rooted and being global at the same time. This is a unique opportunity to test out one of DKU’s core principles – and to see what the world can learn from us.

We recognize that internet access may vary by location and some students may not be able to access each course fully. We are committed to finding alternative solutions to help faculty and students who encounter IT difficulties. Students who experience problems should contact the IT Help Desk at All DKU students will be enrolled in a new Sakai site that will contain how-to guides for online learning tools, including using resources on Sakai and Zoom.

Below and attached please find a memo that covers the following subjects:

  • Spring Schedule
  • General Guidance
  • Technology
  • Course Scheduling
  • Changes in Syllabi
  • Laboratory and Other Courses That Require Hands-On Work
  • Textbooks
  • Academic Integrity
  • ARC and WLS

We will be holding an online forum to answer student questions and address any concerns next week. Please look for announcements.

NOTE: An improved VPN system for China-based users is being implemented. You will receive updates shortly. Zoom Pro is also now available for all DKU faculty and students, which should allow for improved performance compared with what some of you might have experienced in the past. You will also be receiving further guidance on accessing Zoom and WebEx (as a backup to Zoom).

Marcia France, dean of undergraduate studies
Noah Pickus, dean of undergraduate curricular affairs and faculty development


Duke Kunshan University
Online Courses, Spring 2020

Spring Schedule:

Session 3
Weeks 1-3: On campus
Weeks 4-7: Online
Feb. 24-March 20: Online session, inclusive of exams
Friday, March 6: Last day to withdraw with a W grade for first seven-week classes. Last day for I grade change.

Mini-Term 2020: Canceled
Class of 2022: A Mini-Term course may be taken in Spring 2021 or 2022 if desired, but it is no longer required.
Class of 2023: Required to take a Mini-Term course in Spring 2021, 2022 or 2023.

Session 4 (tentative)
We want to everyone to be prepared to do Session 4 online if that becomes necessary. If we are able to resume full operations, instruction will be held on the DKU campus. If we have the opportunity to return to campus, we may need to delay a few days to allow for travel.

March 23-May 8: Online session, inclusive of exams
Friday, March 27: Thursday. Drop/add ends for second seven-week undergraduate session.
Friday, April 10: Last day to withdraw with a W grade for 14-week classes.
Friday, April 24: Last day to withdraw with a W grade for second seven-week classes. Last day for I grade change. 

Summer session (tentative)
Military Training begins May 9 as scheduled 


General guidance

  1. Our students are spread all over the world and in different time zones. Some of you may have slow or intermittent internet access that might restrict your ability to stream videos or take part in synchronous class activities. Therefore, we have encouraged faculty to use asynchronous means as much as possible.
  2. While there are many platforms available for delivering online content, we have chosen to focus on a limited number, due to the time constraints we have in implementing online courses and in our ability to provide technical support. (See below.)
  3. If you were traveling over the Chinese New Year break without your laptop and do not have access to one, please contact your instructors and Dean Marcia France as soon as possible.



We will focus DKU online course delivery around three primary technologies, all of which are known to be stable and reliable, globally accessible, and familiar to our students and faculty:

Sakai learning management system

Sakai is already in use at Duke and DKU, and most DKU faculty already have content in Sakai. Think of Sakai as your main ‘hub’ or ‘virtual classroom’ space.  Your instructors will use it to:

  • Post readings and other course materials (using the Resources tool),
  • Hold asynchronous discussion (using the discussion forum),
  • Collect assignments, papers, and presentations (using the Assignments tool),
  • Conduct exams and quizzes (using the Tests & Quizzes tool).
  • See the “How To” guides on the new Student Sakai site when it becomes available. 


Zoom is now available for DKU faculty and students with upgraded access to Zoom Pro, which should allow for improved performance compared to what some of you might have experienced in the past. Use Zoom for:

  • Live (synchronous) online audio or video conferencing*
  • Live office hours
  • Student working groups/teamwork
  • Recorded voice-over 

*Your instructors may hold one to two live Zoom office hours or conversations per week, even if all students can’t attend all sessions. Students should not be penalized if they cannot participate in these sessions. Sessions should also be recorded and distributed to students via Sakai, to accommodate those who are unable to participate. Courses will be assigned time slots for holding synchronous activities in order to minimize conflicts for students. Your instructors will inform you of the times synchronous activities will be held.


We realize most DKU faculty and students already use WeChat, so we encourage your faculty to use WeChat to notify you about upcoming live Zoom sessions and general course administration. However, WeChat should not be used for academic discussions or assignments.


We are setting up “Coursera for DKU”, which will allow students and faculty free access to Coursera content. We are also providing some alternatives technologies as backup plans, such as WebEx. Note that some people may have significant access problems to non-Sakai sites. Students who experience problems should contact the IT Help Desk at


Course scheduling

  1. Faculty are being encouraged to be flexible with the schedule for their online courses. 
  2. To the extent possible, courses should be designed so that students can work at their own pace. 
  3. Each session runs 7 weeks, inclusive of final exams.  This allows us to finish the academic year as originally scheduled to minimize interruption to the military training and summer activities, such as internships, research, and study at Duke or elsewhere.  Since courses can be more self-paced and are no longer restricted to set time blocks, and since we no longer have to reserve Fridays for field trips, we can achieve the same number of teaching days in the revised schedule.  
  4. Your instructors should let you know what time zone they are located in and be explicit about their online availability.  


Changes in syllabi

  1. Some faculty will need to modify their syllabi and assignments for the new platform. 
  2. The updated syllabi for all Session 3 online course must be made available to students no later than the start of online courses on Feb. 24.


Laboratory and other courses that require hands-on work

  1. Some laboratory courses might be possible for students to complete with virtual labs. For those that are not, we will be creating a “continuing course” grading option. Students in these courses will complete the non-lab portion online and receive the “continuing course” grade as a placeholder. The lab portion will be completed once we return to campus and the final grade assigned at that point.
  2. For courses such as MUSIC 210, INFOSCI201 or MEDIART that require equipment or in-person activities that is not possible online, many of our faculty have come up with exciting alternatives. If necessary, we may have to use the “continuing course” designation for a few of these courses.
  3. We will be sharing information on PE courses soon.



  1. We are aware that some students and faculty do not have their textbooks with them. 
  2. The library staff is investigating copyright permissions for scanning materials and sharing them on Sakai under these unusual circumstances. We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
  3. Electronic: All e-textbooks and Kindle books can be accessed on another device.  If you have any problems accessing an electronic textbooks, email for assistance.
  4. Hard copies: If you do not have with you a hard copy of a required text, please inform your instructor as soon as possible so he or she can consider alternatives.
  5. Session 4 electronic books will be delivered to students and faculty as usual. We are working on solutions for hard copies.


Academic integrity

  1. Every student is required to pledge that they have upheld the DKU Community Standard on every assignment/quiz/test. 
  2. Your instructors should provide clear direction on what is and is not permitted, such as whether or not notes can be used.  You are expected to abide by these instructions.
  3. Please remember that quizzes and exams might be taken by different students at different times.  It is everyone’s responsibility to uphold the integrity of the exam. No student should discuss the content of any quiz or exam with any other student or the instructor until after every student has taken the quiz or exam. 



  1. Both the ARC and the WLS will continue to provide support for UG courses. We will be sending out updates on how to access these resources in the next few days.