The Duke Arts and Sciences Council focused on online education in their first meeting of the year Thursday.
Council Chair Thomas Robisheaux, professor and associate professor of history, began with announcements to update the council on spring and summer news. He highlighted priorities for the academic year, which primarily included the Online Teaching Innovation, Bass Connections, the Duke Kunshan University campus and the current state of undergraduate curriculum.
"I'm very proud of the council for care and thoughtfulness in facing the fast-paced changes we are asked to confront," Robisheaux said.
The council voted against the motion to approve for-credit online courses, with 16 voting to approve the motion, 14 against it and two abstentions April 25. The vote broke a contract with online education company 2U's Semester Online consortium.
The council passed a motion last year, however, to continue embracing online innovation while exploring a variety of online platforms.
The council is therefore seeking input from the broader arts and sciences community and develop curricular policy recommendations, said David Malone, director of the service learning program. The council will determine how many online and non-Duke courses can be used as major requirements as well as the approval procedures for potential online courses. Additionally, the council will decide the criteria students must meet to receive credit for online courses.
Dean of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton said they will also collect information from peer institutions regarding platforms and approaches to online learning. Council members are expected to be even more communicative with their respective departments, especially regarding their expectations for online teaching.
“Online course evaluations have been underway and discussed for a number of years,” Robisheaux said. “The goal is to get this done for this semester.”
Patton mentioned plans to explore different approaches and platforms for online course credit and pay close attention to sounding out what students want—the latter of which will be carried out through a questionnaire that will go out within the next week or two.
Marquee courses—larger classes that focus on introductions to ways of thought— are also in their initial stages, which the council hopes to launch in the 2014-15 academic year, Patton said.
Patton noted that increasing revenue is an important aspect of long-lasting financial sustainability, which can be achieved by increases in sponsored research, Continuing Studies revenue, the number of transfer students as well as the implementation of seven new masters programs.
“Financial sustainability will indeed allow us to continue to research, write and teach at the level that we have come to expect of Duke University,” Patton said.
Patton also discussed achievements made by the University in the last two years, including hiring 48 new faculty members.
“My dream for us is that we find a way to maintain our eminence, without infinite growth of faculty but a wise use of resources,” Patton said.
The current undergraduate curriculum has not been modified since 2000, so revisions have been discussed in recent months. Robisheaux noted that the question to be addressed over the course of this year is whether or not it is time to revise the Duke curriculum.
After leaving the floor open for questions, the council voted for John Brown, associate professor of the practice of music and director of the Duke jazz program, to be the next new member of the executive committee of the Arts and Sciences Council.