The Link: Shaping the Direction of Teaching and Learning at Duke
Located on the lower level of Perkins Library, the Link is an expansive and flexible campus facility. The Link’s technology and spatial design support many teaching and learning options—including classes that incorporate small group breakout sessions, video capture and real-time playback, classroom videoconferencing, presentations involving multiple projections, and interaction with large data files and data sets.
In a recent assessment report, the following factors were cited as some of the Link’s strengths:
- modern and spacious aesthetic
- central location on the West Campus academic quad
- combination of formal and informal learning spaces
- flexibility of classroom spaces
- convenient access to technology, services, and support
The Associate Dean for Arts and Sciences and chair of the assessment committee, Edward Gomes, notes that the Link was designed to provide resources that would equally support everyone engaged in the university’s academic mission. Graduate student use of the Link is recognized as a vital part of that vision.
“We encourage graduate students to experiment with the integration of technology for all facets of the academic experience, and that definitely includes teaching. All of the technology enhancements in the classrooms were implemented with that goal in mind. We encourage all instructors, including faculty, graduate students, and TAs, to think about ways to enhance the teaching and learning experience using the resources available in the Link. That includes working with staff from the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) to understand ways to include instructional technology tools in ways they may not have considered. It also includes opportunities to reserve teaching spaces to experiment with different options for how to use teaching spaces by changing room configurations, combining various types of technology, using breakout sessions in adjoining group study areas, or integration of library resources directly into the classroom experience. By working together with staff providing the services in the Link, graduate students can foster a spirit of collaboration and experimentation with their faculty and students that can help shape the direction of teaching and learning at Duke.”
The Graduate School teaches several classes in the Link, including GS301-Instructional Uses of Technology, GS305– The College Teaching Practicum, and classes in the English for International Students program. In GS305, graduate students from a wide range of disciplines examine practical concerns for teaching, including classroom management, the use of group activities, active learning strategies, and incorporation of visual aids. A main feature of this course is student presentation of a series of progressively longer and more interactive teaching demonstrations which are video recorded using the Link’s video capture capabilities.
Graduate students in these classes have shared several reasons they enjoy class meetings in the Link. Favorite features include light and mobile furniture that can be configured easily to correspond with a variety of class activities, the abundance of whiteboard space, and the laptop carts used extensively in GS 301. Students in GS 301 and GS 305 typically plan on teaching careers, and the Link provides experience with innovative classroom models that will prepare them for the future pedagogical directions being explored in college teaching. After seeing the thought that went into the Link’s design and the kinds of activities in classes held there, they see the possibilities for encouraging active and student-centered learning in the many kinds of classrooms they may encounter in their career.
The Link offers...
- 6 spacious classrooms
- 4 with room for 20-30 people
- 1 seating 40 people
- 1 seating 50 people
- 4 seminar rooms
- 11 group study rooms
- Numerous informal spaces for individual and collaborative work
- Kiosk-style computing
- 40 Tablet PCs and 20 MacBooks for classroom use
- Ready access to library resources and services
- A large pool of multimedia loaner equipment supported by the Duke Digital Initiative, including:
- Flip video cameras
- Web cameras
- Microphone headsets
- Digital Video kits
- Video iPods
- On-site Service Desk providing classroom and individual training, support, and equipment loans.
Service Desk Hours
Monday–Thursday: 8am–MidnightFriday: 8am–5pmSaturday: Noon–4pmSunday: 3pm–midnightFor more information about the Link, its space and equipment reservation policies, and its other resources for teaching and learning, please see link.duke.edu.
— Hugh Crumley, Samantha Earp, Edward Gomes, Erin Nettifee