As the ongoing coronavirus outbreak means students temporarily cannot return to campus, Duke Kunshan University (DKU) will launch a cutting-edge online learning program starting Feb. 24 to guarantee our students’ first-class education continues on track.
Using the latest technologies, the university has devised a dynamic digital teaching plan with updated course schedules and syllabi to ensure the online instruction our graduate and undergraduate students receive is high quality, engaging and effective.
“The situation surrounding the outbreak is continuously evolving at an accelerated pace. Therefore, DKU is unable to confirm a date for when the campus will resume full operation,” said Executive Vice Chancellor Denis Simon. “The health and safety of every member of the DKU community is our first priority, but we also do not intend to allow these circumstances to disrupt our educational mission.”
With this in mind, faculty members are now preparing to deliver a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous online classes that will offer their own unique benefits including:
Students will have the freedom to manage their own schedules and to work at the times and in the places of their choice. They will be able to pause and rewind lectures and discussion sessions, to review notes and conduct additional reading or research while on pause.
How to communicate ideas clearly, respond to feedback and manage projects in a virtual world are essential skills in the modern workplace. Classmates will have the time to craft better arguments and analyze each other’s work. Students will also continue to receive intensive feedback and dedicated attention from their professors.
Many students may find it easier to concentrate and to participate in online class discussions. They will have more time to find their way into a conversation, to make a unique contribution and to draw in their classmates. Team projects often function better online, and online discussion forums can foster an especially strong sense of community.
True rooted globalism
Students will participate in a virtual global conversation with professors and their peers while embedded in specific local contexts – a distinct way of experiencing being both rooted and global at the same time.
Instructors will deliver the online courses using three primary technologies: the Sakai learning management system, which will used for course materials, asynchronous discussions, and exams and quizzes; Zoom Pro for live online audio or video conferencing; and the Coursera online learning platform.
“We’re also providing some alternative technologies as a backup plan,” said Scott MacEachern, vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our faculty and students are currently spread around the globe, and we recognize that internet access may vary by location and that 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 any IT difficulties.”
University leaders are also exploring solutions for classes that traditionally require hands-on work such as laboratory practice and physical exercise.
Throughout the online learning, students will continue to receive comprehensive support from their academic advisers, the Writing and Language Studio, and Counseling and Psychological Services. The Center for Teaching and Learning and Duke Learning Innovation are also helping course instructors prepare by providing best-practice advice, online tutorials and other resources.
The online learning plan is part of a series of strict measures Duke Kunshan has taken to protect the students, staff and faculty from the coronavirus outbreak. In addition to restricting access to the campus, the university has provided financial support to more than 70 students to help them return home to their families and is providing support to students, faculty and staff who remain on campus.
“These are difficult times for DKU, but I am sure this experience will make our community stronger and even more connected,” said Chancellor Youmei Feng. “I’m eternally grateful to everyone who has worked so hard over these past days and weeks to design our online learning plan and keep our entire community safe.”