Last week, we hosted our inaugural Emerging Pedagogies Summit for Duke faculty and administrators, built on the foundational success of the Pandemic Pedagogies Research Symposium that emerged during Covid-19 and the long tradition of academic innovation at Duke.
Our goal for the Summit was to invite faculty from Duke as well as leading thinkers from other institutions to discuss important trends in teaching and learning – including pedagogies of care, gamification, ungrading, AR/VR, generative AI, design-based pedagogy, learning in aging, and learning at scale.
Academic innovation has many different facets – however, it is – it should be, at its core – all about enhancing learning. During this event, we wanted to inspire a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what learning can be; from preK through gray, anytime, anywhere, for all learners. What a lot to tackle in two and a half days! The topics were wide-ranging, but to me, there quickly emerged a strong trend across all panels:
To respond to emerging technologies and new pedagogical frameworks, you cannot simply layer them on top of the traditional classroom. Instead, they require nothing less than a transformation of the way we teach and learn, and the way we think about our learners in higher education.
For instance, Barry Fishman, Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Michigan, doesn’t simply have his students play games as a part of their class. He teaches them to think about any learning experience as a game, and he structures his assignments and assessment around the interplay of curiosity and adventure.
Our colleague Aria Chernik, Associate Professor of the Practice at Duke SSRI, with her co-presenter Lesley-Ann Noel, Assistant Professor of Media Arts, Design and Technology at NC State, guided us through a design-based pedagogy exercise to tackle real challenges at Duke that were surfaced by student feedback – challenging us to center equity, collaboration, creative problem-solving, iteration, and empathy-driven research in the way we teach and the way we support our students on campus.
Several of our Duke colleagues shared how they use generative AI in their teaching and assignments, as well as their student support outside of the classroom – via a tool developed by a Pratt School of Engineering professor that allows students to interact with course content through an AI learning assistant.
Nerissa Brown, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Professor of Accountancy at the Gies School of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, walked us through layers of academic innovation in their first-of-its-kind extremely affordable online MBA program at scale. Programs like these – those that fundamentally alter our assumptions about credentials, platforms, business models, and instructional methodologies – create unprecedented opportunities to expand access to quality educational programs and experiences.
These are just a few examples. In every single panel, I was challenged to think in new ways about how we structure our pedagogy, our learner support, and our program administration.
As Learning Innovation, we should always be looking ahead with both an open mind and a critical eye. I am in awe of all that our speakers shared last week, and the conversations that we began. But we can’t let it stop there. In support of true innovation at Duke, our charge is to carry these conversations forward – building communities of practice, developing resources and frameworks, and supporting applied research.
The work continues – I am excited to continue the conversation and see what emerges.